Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jun 2015 13:51 UTC
Windows Windows is an old and complex operating system. It's been around for a very long time, and while it's been continuously updated and altered, and parts are removed or replaced all the time, the operating system still houses quite a few tools, utilities, and assets that haven't been updated or replaced in a long, long time. Most of these are hidden in deep nooks and crannies, and you rarely encounter them, unless you start hunting for them.

Most. But not all.

There's one utility that I need to use quite often that, seemingly, hasn't been updated - at least, not considerably - since at least Windows 95, or possibly even Windows 3.x. Using this utility is an exercise in pure frustration, riddled as it is with terrible user interface design and behaviour that never should have shipped as part of any serious software product.

This is the story of the dreaded Character Map. I'll first explain just how bad it really is, after which I'll dive into the little application's history, to try and find out why, exactly, it is as bad as it is. It turns out that the Character Map - or charmap.exe - seems to exist in a sort-of Windows build limbo, and has been stuck there since the days Microsoft scrapped Longhorn, and started over.

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a better special character entry method
by mrbumpy409 on Thu 18th Jun 2015 01:33 UTC
mrbumpy409
Member since:
2013-07-19

Linux seems to have the best method for entering special characters, at least in my opinion. If you set this command to run on startup: "setxkbmap -option compose:ralt", it allows you to enter special characters by holding down the right alt key and typing a two-character combination. For example, to enter á you would hold down right alt and type 'a or a'. This is obvious and easy to remember (as opposed to Windows Alt-codes). Other common characters:

Type: Result:
`a - - - à
'a - - - á
"a - - - ä
oa - - - å
^o - - - ô
/o - - - ø
ss - - - ß
oc - - - ©
or - - - ®
PP - - -

It also handles capitalization, so 'A gives you Á. No need to open a character map!

Does anybody know if there is a way to do this in Windows as well. My online searches have turned up nothing.

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