Spanish Keyboard and Punctuation

You don't need to know a lot of Spanish to know that this language uses some strange looking symbols and punctuation marks. If you've ever had to type in Spanish, you've probably struggled trying to find characters like ¿, ¡, «, », á, é, í, ó, ú, ü or ñ.

young woman typing on laptop in library young woman typing on laptop in library

Sure, you can always copy these characters from somewhere and simply paste them into the document you're working on, but if you're writing more than a short sentence, that will soon become tedious.

There are actually a few simple ways to type these characters without the need to copy and paste, keep reading to learn what they are!

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Change Your Keyboard Settings

This method might take a bit more time, but it is definitely the best if you are going to be writing in Spanish often. By changing your keyboard language to Spanish, Spanish symbols will become easier to access at any time, and you can simply switch back to English when you are done.

How to Change Your Keyboard Language on Windows

To change your keyboard settings on Windows 10, follow these steps:

  • Click on the Windows icon on the bottom left corner of your screen.
  • Click on "Settings".
  • Click on "Time & language".
  • Click on "Region and language".
  • Choose Spanish.
  • Click on "Options".
  • Click on "Add a keyboard".
  • Select a Spanish keyboard.

Once you have done this, you can switch between keyboards by clicking on the keyboard language shown on the bottom right of your screen, or simply by holding the windows key and pressing the spacebar until you find the language you are looking for.

On Windows Vista and Windows XP, you will have to go to your Control Panel to add a new keyboard Language.

On Windows Vista, go to "Clock, Language, Region" > "Change Keyboards" > "Add" and select a keyboard.

On Windows XP, go to "Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options" > "Regional and Language Options", click on the languages tab and then go to "Details" > "Add" to select a language.

How to Change Your Keyboard Language on Mac OS

To add a new language on a Mac, you will have to start by opening System Preferences. Once there, go to "Language & Region" and click on "Keyboard Preferences...". On the bottom left, you will find a "+" sign to add new languages. Make sure you check the "Show Input menu in bar" box to toggle between keyboards easily once you are done.

The Spanish Keyboard Layout

Once you've changed your keyboard settings to Spanish, you will find that some characters are not where you are used to finding them. This is because, to accommodate some of the symbols that are unique to Spanish, your layout will have changed a bit.

The new layout will probably look something like this:

spanish keyboard

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To type á, é, í, ó, ú and ü, you will have to first type the tilde or umlaut, and then the desired vowel. The ñ, luckily, is its own letter and will have its own key.

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How to Type Spanish Characters Without Changing Your Keyboard Settings

The method above is great if you are working on your own computer and will be typing in Spanish often. If you are working on someone else's computer, however, you probably don't want to mess with their keyboard settings. Luckily, there are a couple of other methods you can use to type Spanish characters.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Even if you are not using a Spanish keyboard, there are keyboard combinations that will let you type most common Spanish characters.

With your keyboard set to English, try the following key combinations to type the ñ and accented vowels:

On Windows:

  • Accented vowels: press ctrl and ' at the same time, then press the vowel you want to put the accent on.
  • Ñ: press control and ~at the same time, then press n.

On Mac OS:

  • Accented vowels: press option (alt) and e at the same time, then press the vowel you want to put the accent on.
  • Ñ: press option (alt) and n at the same time, then press n.

Using the ASCII system

No matter what language your keyboard is set to, there is a code you can use to type any character you want. This code is set by something called the ASCII system. To type a character, press and hold the alt key while you type in the character's ASCII code on the numeric keypad of your computer (keep in mind this only works with numeric keypads).

You can find many tables with ASCII character codes on the Internet, but below are the characters you will need if you want to type something in Spanish:

Character

Code

Ñ

165

ñ

164

Á

181

á

160

É

144

é

130

Í

161

í

161

Ó

224

ó

162

Ú

233

ú

163

ü

129

¿

191

¡

161

«

174

»

175

Try out these different methods and choose the one that works best for you. Happy Spanish typing!