How to Type Portuguese Accents on an English Keyboard

How do I type Portuguese accents? This is a common question for learners, since if you’re like myself (Joel), you primarily use an English keyboard.

To help you make the transition to typing accented characters in Portuguese, our Lessons include an accent toolbar that should appear at the bottom of the screen, whenever you’re asked to type.

Mobile Devices

The aforementioned accent toolbar is hidden on mobile devices, because on modern iOS (iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch) and Android devices, there is an easier way. Simply press and hold on any vowel (on your software keyboard), then slide your finger over to the correct character, and release. This should work regardless of whether or not you have the Portuguese keyboard enabled in settings.

Computers

As mentioned above, you can use our accent toolbar on the site, but we recommend learning how to create the accents yourself early on so that it becomes second nature. You obviously won’t have the luxury of using an accent toolbar when you’re writing an email or in most of your other apps!

In many cases, it’s the same as on mobile: you can just hold down the letter you want on your keyboard until you see options pop up for the accented versions. Then select the corresponding number. If that doesn’t work, or you’d prefer a different method, see the instructions below for Mac and Windows.

Mac

Typing accents on a Mac happens to be quite easy, to the point where even when typing in Portuguese, I am much more comfortable using my English keyboard than when I try to use a native Portuguese keyboard… it’s just a matter of getting used to a few key commands.

Once you practice and train your muscle memory for a week or so, it’s really just a matter of holding down one extra key than if you had an actual Portuguese keyboard, (with the benefit of not having to unlearn a lifetime of using an English keyboard layout!).

Step 1: Hold down the Option key (located a couple keys to the left of the spacebar)

Step 2: Type one of letters below to “tell” your system which accent you need.

  • Tilde ˜ = Option   n
  • Acute ´ = Option   e
  • Grave ` = Option   `
  • Circumflex ˆ = Option   i
  • Cedilha ç = Option   c

Step 3: Release those keys and then type the letter you want to apply the accent to.

For example…

  • To type ã as in pão:  Option   n   (release)   a
  • To type é as in café:  Option   e   (release)   e
  • To type à as in Vou à escola:  Option   `   (release)   a
  • To type ê as in mês:  Option   i   (release)   e
  • To type ç as in peço:  Option   c   (no need to hit c again for this one!)

Windows

Update: Thanks to tips from our members, we’re able to update this section with an easier method: setting up your keyboard to QWERTY International / US International). To find this setting on Windows 10, go to Settings > Time&Language > Language. Under Preferred Languages, choose your language. Then click Options > Add a keyboard and select United States International.

Now you just need to switch to that keyboard. Your bottom right toolbar should show which keyboard language you’re currently using, so you’ll just click on that and choose US International. Now you can simply type the accent and then the letter it goes on. For example:

  • To type ã as in pão:  Shift   ~   (release)   a
  • To type é as in café:  ‘  e
  • To type à as in Vou à escola:  `  a
  • To type ê as in mês:  Shift    ^   (release)   e
  • To type ç as in peço:   ‘  c

If that doesn’t work for you, unfortunately there are 4-digit unicode shortcuts that you have to memorize for every combination of vowels and accents. For the shortcuts below, you first hold down ALT, then type the 4-digit numbers in succession.

é 0233
É 0201
ê 0234
Ê 0202
á 0225
Á 0193
à 0224
À 0192
â 0226
 0194
ã 0227
à 0195
í 0237
Í 0205
ó 0243
Ó 0211
õ 0245
Õ 0213
ô 0244
Ô 0212
ú 0250
Ú 0218
ç 0231
Ç 0199
(If none of these methods work for you, check the comments below or visit our forum to see if other members have any additional tips: Here’s a thread with more info)

Ready to try it out?

Head back to the units and practice your new skills in the listen and type questions: Units

Comments

  • For Windows and Mac users, and if you’re using Qwerty US, an easier way than to try to remember the Unicode values of the letters, is to set your keyboard to QWERTY-International. The layout, is the same as the US QWERTY, but it allows you to type the accents with easy to remember key combinations. First type the key that represents the accent, then the letter itself.
    ‘a -> á
    `a -> à
    “o -> ö
    ^o -> ô
    ,c -> ç
    I do that for almost 20 years already…
    To set up your keyboard to QWERTY International (or US International), on a Mac I don’t remember, but it’s fairly trivial. On Windows 10; Settings/Time&Language/Language and in the Preferred Langguages, click on the language that ou use, like English United States or Français (Belgique), then Options/Add a keyboard and select United States International.

    • Just to add:-
      ~a->ã
      If you are using a smaller keyboard like me (the popular Dell XPS 13) then instead of ~ you will need to use ¬ which is uppercase on the top left key.

      Most PC’s won’t have the international keyboard option installed. Make sure you follow the Francois lagrange’s instructions:-

      To set up your keyboard to QWERTY International (or US International) on Windows 10:
      – Settings [ie Windows settings]/Time&Language/Language
      – In the Preferred Languages, CLICK ON THE LANGUAGE THAT YOU USE, like English United States or Français (Belgique), [or English (United Kingdom) in my case] and it will then display an Options button
      – Click on Options button
      – Then Add a keyboard
      – Then scroll to United States International and select it

      In the bottom right of your status bar should be a display of the keyboard language you are using eg ENG in my case. Click on this and it should now display a menu which includes US International. To use the sequential key strokes described above you will need to select the US International keyboard you have just installed.

      Here is a summary of all the things you can do, but the ones above are sufficient for our Português. https://slcr.wsu.edu/help-pages/microsoft-keyboards-us-international/

      Having explored all the options I believe this is by far the simplest.

  • Another method for Windows users: If you use Google Docs, you can use Chrome extensions which will complete spelling and grammar checks for you after typing and you can amend them this way.

  • You guys are AMAZING! Obrigada!

    I’ve been scouring the internet for workarounds on how to get accent marks in google docs and adobe acrobat for a week now and it’s been making me kuh-razy. The vowel ‘press and hold’ trick doesn’t work in Acrobat and works 5% of the time in google docs. I was so frustrated that I had no choice but to eat pizza twice in one week. Then THIS post magically showed up. IT WORKS! You don’t know how excited I am right now.

    And yes, it’s a little thing, but it’s 2020 so this is probably the best thing that’s happened to me this year lol.

    • So glad we could help! But if you want to keep eating pizza twice a week anyway, we won’t judge. It might help get you through the rest of 2020.

  • For Windows users, another method is to use the Keyxpat tool (https://keyxpat.com) that lets you access any accent, diacritic and other special characters without having to move your hands or remembering shortcuts. It is supplied with several languages/key assignments. Portuguese is one of them. It is totally customizable.

  • It doesn’t work for me :-(. I’ve came to this site to learn how to type ã and Ã, but holding Alt and typing 0227 or 0195 writes ă and Ă, what are Romanian letters :-(.

    • Olá, Žaba. I’m not sure, but I think it could be because of the keyboard language setting on your device. Maybe try changing your keyboard language (you might have to look around in the settings or Google the instructions for your specific device/operating system) and see if that works.

  • Hello Joseph, thank for the quick answer. It seems you are right – I’ve got two keyboards installed, Czech and Russian. Other symbols I type using Alt and numbers are not affected by changing keyboard, but these two are, so it’s likely if i had an English keyboard, it would work, but… installing English keyboard to type Portuguese letters seems stupid :-). I’ll solve it some way, thanks a lot.

  • I´ve installed Portuguese keyboard in Language settings (Windows 7) and all works just fine, but you need to investigate fisrt and get used to the all these accents and punctuation position since they are in the different places comparing to Eng or Rus.
    So when you are in PT
    ] + e = é
    Shift + ] + e = è
    \ + a = ã

    The only guy i couldn’t find yet is circumflex

  • Thanks for all your great resources. You may want to mention that in order to use the “Alt-4-digit” method, you must use the NUMERIC KEYPAD to enter the 4-digit number. (I kept trying to use the numbers above the keyboard, but that wouldn’t work. Then I went to the link you provided to the original thread where they mentioned that you must use the numeric keypad while holding the Alt key.) Thanks again!

  • I have driving myself crazy trying to use any of the suggestions given.
    –I have no options key on my Dell laptop so none of those suggestions work
    –installing a Portuguese language option helped with some accents, but cannot find the circumflex anywhere and don’t have a corresponding key
    Are there updates for Windows 10?

    • Sorry for the trouble! The option key is only for Macs, so you won’t need that section since you’re using Windows.

      Now that you’ve installed and selected the international keyboard, you should be able to use the instructions under the Windows section. For the circumflex accent, it’s the ^ key, which is normally the same key as the number 6. So for example, if you wanted to type ê, you would type Shift ^ (release) e. Does that work for you?

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