Entering International Characters
or "How Do I Enter That Accent on Your Name?"
Being a guy with an accent on one of the letters of his name, you can imagine that I probably spend a lot of time entering so-called "special characters" in my documents and e-mails. Short of keeping a document with these letters already written, then copying, and pasting them, entering an é can be amazingly time consuming. Worst of all, while OpenOffice.org lets me click Insert, Special Character to select from a list, not all applications have a handy list of characters to choose from. For everyone out there who routinely has to enter special characters or letters with accents, I'm going to give you a great KDE trick to use that will ease the pain.
Start by firing up kcontrol, the KDE control center. Under "Regional & Accessibility", select the submenu for Keyboard Layout. Over on the right hand pane, you'll see a bunch of flags from different countries listed. Click "Enable keyboard layouts" to un-gray these choices. The default is to provide you with "U.S. English". I always add "U.S. English w/deadkeys" to that list. Click the image below to see a full size capture of this dialog.
You'll notice I didn't add French. That's because I honestly don't know how a French keyboard is laid out.
When you click OK or Apply, a little icon that looks like a tiny flag will appear in your icon tray -- there's a small screen capture of the system tray part of my Kicker panel below. Clicking that will switch between the various layouts (of which there are two at the moment). Notice that the flag changes to highlight that you are working with a different layout.
When you are on the "U.S. English w/deadkeys" layout, you can touch the single quote before entering an "e" and a "e" with an acute accent will appear. Same trick works for the "c" with a cedilla. Now, for an accent grave, use the back quote before the
character and so on.
é è ê ç à É À
The grave accent is the back quote while the circumflex accent is your basic Shift-6. Cool? Best of all, I don't have to remember Alt+somedarncode to enter a "é" at the end of my name. The only catch is that you have to return the keyboard to normal (U.S. English) before you continue or you'll find that things don't work the way you expect them to. A single or double quote won't enter when you expect it to.