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.
Add Unicode Hex Input Method in macOS Monterey or Earlier
Mac offers a Unicode Hex Input method to help users directly using the Unicode codepoint value. Follow the below instructions to change the default keyboard input method in macOS Monterey or earlier versions.
- Go to “Apple Menu > System Preferences…” and 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 using which you can easily toggle the input source.
- 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 in macOS Ventura or Later
Apple changed macOS interface and introduced a new Settings app from macOS Ventura. Follow the below steps to add new input method if you are using the latest macOS version.
- Click the Apple menu and select “System Settings…” option.
- Scroll down to bottom in the left sidebar and select “Keyboard” option.
- On the right pane, click “Edit” button against “Input Sources” (under “Text Input” heading).
- On the next screen, you will see the current list of input sources and click the + icon showing on bottom left corner. Also, make sure to turn on “Show Input menu in menu bar” option to enable the icon on top menu bar.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the language list and select “Others” option.
- Select “Unicode Hex Input” from the right pane and click “Add” button.
Toggling Keyboard Input Method
The default English keyboard input in Mac is ABC which will show as A in the top menu bar on your Mac. You can click on this input menu 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+.
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 typing 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 app. On the search bar, you can type the five digits hex code and find the relevant character. For example, type 1F313 to find the first quarter moon symbol like 🌓.
Remember, this will work on all applications in Mac including third-party applications like Microsoft Word.