How to Use Unicode Hex Input Method in Mac?

Unicode Consortium is a non-profit organization that focuses on standardizing the language inputs. There are many Unicode blocks for special symbols and characters that you can’t type using standard English keyboard layout. In this article, let us explain how to change the input method in Mac to Unicode Hex Input and insert the Unicode characters.

Windows Alt Code Vs Mac Option Code

In order to enable typing the special characters, Microsoft uses alt keys on the keyboard as a modifier. You can use the alt key and the decimal value of the Unicode character to insert symbols on your PC. Things are different on macOS. Apple keyboard has option keys (also called alt keys) which you can use to insert symbols. However, you need to use the Unicode hexadecimal values of the character which is not possible using standard input method. Therefore, you should add Unicode compatible input method to type the characters.

How to Change Unicode Hex Input Method in Mac? 

Mac offers a Unicode Hex Input method to help users directly using the Unicode point value. Follow the below instructions to change the default keyboard input method.

  • Go to “Apple Menu > System Preferences…” and open “Keyboard” preferences.
Open Keyboard Preferences
Open Keyboard Preferences
  • You will see lot of options for customizing your keyboard settings.
  • Navigate to “Input Sources” tab and first ensure to enable “Show Input menu in menu bar” checkbox. This will add an icon on the top menu bar as we have shown above. You can easily toggle the input source from the top menu bar’s icon.
Add Keyboard Input in Mac
Add Keyboard Input in Mac

Adding Unicode Hex Input Method

  • Click on the + button to add a new keyboard input method.
  • You will see all the languages that Mac supports in the next popup.
  • Scroll down to the bottom and click on “Others” option.
  • Select “Unicode Hex Input” and click on “Add” button.
  • Now you have successfully added Unicode input method on your Mac.
Add Unicode Hex Input Keyboard in Mac
Add Unicode Hex Input Keyboard in Mac

Related: How to type accented letters in Mac?

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Toggling Keyboard Input Method

The default English keyboard input in Mac is ABC. Check the top menu bar on your Mac showing A icon nearer to the time. You can click on the icon to see multiple options and change your preferred keyboard input method.

Open your document where you want to insert Unicode symbols. Click on the “Input Menu” on the top bar and choose “Unicode Hex Input” option. Now the icon should show as U+.

Toggle Keyboard Input in Mac
Toggle Keyboard Input in Mac

Typing Unicode Symbols

Hold one of the option keys and type the Unicode hexadecimal values to insert symbols. For example, option + 2A37 will produce the double circle cross sign like .

You can toggle the input method back to ABC after you type the symbols. In most cases, you can continue with U+ input method as it should still work for typing standard letters.

Limitations of Unicode Hex Input

Though it is easy to toggle the input method, it supports only four digit hex code value. However, Unicode has many 5 digits hex values which you can’t insert using the Unicode Hex Inputs method.

The solution is to press “Command + Control + Space” and open Character Viewer. On the search bar, you can type to five digits hex code to find the relevant character. For example, type 1F313 to find the first quarter moon symbol like ?.

Search with Unicode Point
Search with Unicode Point

Remember, this will work on all Mac applications. However, Character Viewer will not work on other applications like Microsoft Word on Mac.

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