France, UK, international? - laptop keyboard choice

Buying new laptop – plenty of advice threads, and including keyboard choice, but not specifically keyboard choice. Many on ‘how can I avoid buying a France keyboard laptop in France…’

So on the apple site I have a choice (many) –


International English





Amongst others…

Key (hah hah – sorry) considerations:

Work – UK clients (I’m in IT)

Work – France (don’t they all use English?)

Language courses – for nationality

Writing French for the heck of it (presuming the authorities don’t give a toss about unaccented e-mails)

Hey – how about future social media (you never know what’s ‘dans l’avenir’)?

And don’t we just want to immerse in French…

Could just plug in my querty keyboard to the laptop – (or won’t that work)

And also all the other considerations I don’t know I’ve yet considered.

What I’ve seen so far (including SF)

France keyboard is shit – they have a key for an accented letter which appears in only one word (ou)

You have to shift to get a full stop - and numbers?

Much nicer for accents obvs

The german keyboard is actually better for typing French!

So let me know your thoughts – what have you got (keyboard wise), and how do you get along with it…

And your recommendations of course!

Thanks in advance

I use English (United Kingdom) keyboard (the one with two Win keys, one either side of the space bar and the £ sign over 3) and France formats with Ubuntu as the OS. I can get all the accents I require using (in my case) the right Windoze key as a Compose key which latches followed by a keyboard shortcut to produce things like è é ç ê etc as required. Other key combinations use Alt Gr to produce «» and € (Alt Gr + $). The keyboard has a dedicated numeric pad on the right.


I can switch between the 2 on my android tablet and as my brain is still quicker than my 2 fingers, it makes bugger all difference :joy:

Well, ‘où’.
It makes a big difference, où or ou, là or la etc. Very sensible to have a key for it.

No we don’t, and why should we?


20 + years using french Keyboards, no problem at all, on the contrat, QWERTY Keyboards are a problem when you’re not used to them and so fiddly to use with languages that require accents. And while we’re talking accents … anything written without accents is wrong//not spelt correctly : ou and où, la or là used incorrectly are like to, too and two or there and their used incorrectly :thinking::wink:


Well, yes but there are some awkward features to AZERTY - the fact that full stop and numbers are on the shift key being one of them.

Also I’m not convinced you need μ, and there’s no œ


That’s annoying.

What is that character used for on a French keyboard? I thought it was a scientific notation…

Bloke who was in charge of pc marketing in France way back when decided it should be so. Micro- whatevers clearly featured a lot in his writing.

No doubt there will be disapproval of this, but I use a QWERTY keyboard and never ever use accents when writing in any other language but English. And I am always understood without them. Just as I understand people who write ‘too’ etc. in English when they mean ‘to’ or ‘two’. It is all about context. When I pass a shop with a notice on the door saying ‘ferme’ I don’t assume it is a farm. So I am not alone, the French do it tooooo. :rofl:

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I agree with you an_droo. I like my Apple AZERTY keyboard especially for the accented characters. I’ve got used to the shift key for numbers. Certain accented characters also come in useful for spanish.
Alt/o gives me œ. Shift/Alt/O gives me Œ. Surprisingly I have not had much use for it…

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I’ve both keyboards Azerty and Qwerty…
I use the Qwerty everyday and have a chart on the wall to enable me to do the accents etc…
Although I know most of them off by heart now and rarely look at anything but the screen… or what I’m typing from…
alt 0200 = È
alt 0128 = €
alt 130 = é
alt0156 = œ
etc etc

But… they don’t work on my Ubuntu PC using a QWERTY keyboard

never said they would… :rofl: my qwerty keyboard is logitech (English English)… as you know I know nuffink about such things… so no idea about your PC

@graham try the AltGr with whichever Qwerty letter needs the accent…

My preference is a qwerty which I then use the alt button to do accents. Currently I have a Norwegian qwerty which is a bit annoying as not all the same so gets confusing if having a blond moment with my touch typing. Have a new to me HP laptop waiting in UK, hubby leaves Tuesday :grinning: I’m getting better on the azerty as have to use them at lycée.

This is a slightly sideways question but one of the things that occurred to me yesterday is that, if I take one of those DELF exams to get a B1 certificate, I assume I’ll have to use their (AZERTY?) keyboards? In which case I’d probably better get used to one… Anyone know if this is correct?

I have an Italian keyboard on my laptop – basically QWERTY, with the addition of the more common accented keys, including ù and à. It doesn’t have a dedicated circumflex key, so I’m stuck with using an alt code for that. It may be worth checking Google for the exact layout to see if it would be any use to you.

If it is written in capital letters, that’s normal, you aren’t supposed to put accents on capital letters.
Edited to add that you do if there is ambiguity as a result, and actually the académie française aka the dead hand of cardinal Richelieu says now you should put them on.
So I am wrong, but when I was a tiny child putting them on was like dotting a capital i, you didn’t do it.

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Macbook with FR Azerty keyboard, works fine for me, typing in English, French or German.
Have a Dell laptop with AZERTY keyboard too, which is where the main differences between Apple’s bizarre keyboard layout and the rest of the world’s really comes to the fore.

Having had typing lessons on a French typewriter before I even got a computer means that the full stop key on an AZERTY keyboard isn’t an issue.

I occasionally have to switch to a Qwerty keyboard from a Chinese laptop manufacturer, and make do, no biggie.

If I were to buy a new laptop today, I might look at a Swiss keyboard. When I started typing on computers in Germany, this is what I had, and what served me well writing in German, French and English.

Yes, as I found out fairly recently myself that accents on capitalized letters were now a thing :scream: