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, you can just hold down the letter you want on your keyboard until you see options pop up on the screen for the accented versions. Then you just select the corresponding number. If that doesn’t work for you, see the instructions below for Mac and Windows.

Mac

(Windows users are going to hate this…) 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, and you’ll be off to the races.

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 trying 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 two 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

This is where I must ask you to not shoot the messenger… unfortunately, there are 4-digit shortcuts that you have to memorize for every combination of vowels and accents, which require 5 key presses each. Sorry.

(It might be worth checking out some third-party solutions, or perhaps getting used to a Portuguese keyboard configuration. You might also want to check with our beloved forum nerds to see if they have any additional tips: Here’s a thread with more info).

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

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.

  • 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.

What did you think? Leave a Comment for Rui & Joel:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.