How do French people usually type extra letters on their laptops?

What’s the usual way for someone from France to type out extended characters on a laptop? I’ve been researching, and it is still difficult to find the answer. I know how to type in English and Vietnamese (has a sofeware).
Merci pour votre temps.

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Most French people use keyboards with an AZERTY layout for convenient access to accented letters.

‘The digits 0 to 9 are on the same keys, but to be typed the shift key must be pressed. The unshifted positions are used for accented characters.’ (AZERTY - Wikipedia)

Some hipster developers might rock an US QWERTY keyboard, but they are in the minority.


If you’re having trouble getting used to the FR_FR keyboard, you might want to give the FR_CA one a go - a bit more intuitive coming from a typical US QWERTY setup!

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There are ALT codes you can use to type every accented letter, even on a qwerty keyboard. For example, ALT+ 0202 becomes É. A simple Google search will tell you what the exact codes are.

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Correct, in France people use AZERTY layout which allows to easily type in French. Everywhere I went there was this type of layout.

This is an option, however I suppose this is for Windows.

On Mac I use different commands, for example:
option+8+the letter = á
option+9+the letter = à
there is already ç included, and the capital letter is option+shift+o= Ç

Correct. You can digitally change your keyboard layout to make it whatever you want to, even an AZERTY. However, you have to remember the layout and train yourself with a different keyboard, which might not be so always easy to do.

French doesn’t really require many different characters, and they can easily done with those keyboard combinations. Unless, you have to type a lot of stuff in French, and in this case it might be worth to learn an additional layout to improve speed performance.

@CloverLE2211 is that what you were asking for ?

(Not from France. American.)

The Alt code method that somebody already described use to be the only solution that I could find, but now a lot of systems use the Compose key method which is a lot more intuitive. You don’t have to memorize or refer to a list of Alt codes. You just use a ComposeKey-AccentKey-Letter combination.

I use Linux Mint, but I’m pretty sure that Windows also has the feature. Within Linux how it works probably depends on the distribution. In Mint I went to:
Preferences - Keyboard - Layout - Options - Position of Compose Key

(And, yeah, it was hard to find even after having already been there.)

Then you pick which key you want the Compose key to be.

To type an accented character using the Compose key on MY system:

  • Press the Compose key.
  • Press the diacritic (accent) designator character [` ’ ^~ , : ]
  • Press the desired letter.

For a diphthong it’s ComposeKey - FirstLetter - SecondLetter

I can use that to type all of these: à á â è é ê ë í ì ï î ö ô ù æ ñ ç « » and more.

But it’s going to depend on your system. I initially learned through somebody else’s instructions which said ComposeKey - Letter - AccentKey. That worked for some characters but not for others. So I experimented and switched the order to ComposeKey - AccentKey - Letter and that worked for all of them. So unless you find some good docs you’ll probably have to play with it.

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setting your language/keyboard to “English (United States) international” is really the easiest option if using windows. basically the same as using azerty except that the accents are in a different place. To get " é " I simply type " ’ " and then " e " .
You can setup multiple language/keyboard profiles and easily switch between: I have setups for ENG international and Japanese to accomodate different setups.