France, UK, international? - laptop keyboard choice

I seem to recall that the deadkey combo for this on Ubuntu is AltGr ?
Or maybe configure a keyboard variant (probably declared “obsolete” by Ubuntu) that uses the deadkeys to get accented characters ? Don’t have a Qwerty keyboard with Ubuntu to hand any more.

Ha ha, I Iike that, but doesn’t it prove my point that accents aren’t, or perhaps rather, shouldn’t, be necessary and the English language is the absolute proof of that?

There is no sound you can say that at present needs(?) an accent that can’t perfectly well be made using existing letters. I do admit though that that might mean extra letters already in the alphabet, but surely better than adding to that alphabet.

This keyboard, as I said is a qwerty but my pc was bought in France and my friend had a helluva job to get it to recognise the keyboard completely, but even now, if I hit a ‘magic’ key or combination by accident it suddenly converts itself back to an azerty. Really annoying if I don’t notice till the end of the sentence. :rage:

Option-O key combo on Macbook for “œ”. Agree about the “µ” key though, although I do use it a lot in my work.

In Ubuntu you can set the Compose key (I use right Win).
The Compose key latches so you don’t have to do finger acrobatics to get the accented chars as indicated in post #2 :arrow_up:

A lot has to do with how you type - you can add a keyboard to a laptop - but the older desktop ones don’t have the right connectors for modern laptops - but a cheap USB keyboard is an option.

You can tell windows to be whatever keyboard map you like regardless of the actual keyboard.

So a touch typist can get away with setting windows to qwerty and using an azerty physical keyboard. I’ve seen it on a Korean keyboard and that was impressive.

Hunt and peck typing makes little odds what keyboards in front of you you’re still looking for the keys.

Those of us who’ve typed enough to be borderline touch typing really need QWERTY otherwise it drives you to distraction - not good enough to ignore the keyboard completely but good enough my fingers know where things should be.

My partner’s recent cheapo Chinese laptop arrived with a bag of keyboards - well plastic mats - you just drop in. About 20 of them - obviously you set the keyboard in Windows but qwerty azerty Chinese the whole shebang. Saves faffing with regional settings for them I guess

I use a virtual keyboard on my tablet for Korean and Arabic.

I think the AZERTY clavier could be re-designed in several ways, for instance, if there’s a numerique keypad do away with the line of Shift numbers and replace them with more accented letters

Full stops are used more frequently than commas, semi-colons and colons, but require Shift, whereas the others don’t

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If you use a Mac you can hold down any key that might have accented options in any language & you get a pop-up list with each option numbered. You then just press that number.

e.g. if you hold down Z you get ž ź or ż as options.

There’s also the option of using the pop-up character viewer, or various keyboard shortcuts i.e. there’s no excuse not to use proper accents when writing in any language.


If I’m writing French I just set the spell check language - which generally does a good job of spotting what accents are needed.

Doesn’t work 100% of course à is difficult, as is où, as “a” and “ou” are valid French words.

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I used to have a UK keyboard on my iMac and my work computer too. Then I joined a French company and had AZERTY for work and QWERTY for home. I used to sign off as qlqn all the time! I got fed up with it and when I changed computer at home (by this time living in France) I was quite happy to go with the flow and the AZERTY keyboard…

Many thanks for responses so far, much appreciated and much to think about!

On keyboard preferences expressed I make – approximately of course

5 french – but possible 1 segue to swiss (@vero didn’t express a preference, I’m taking French as a given here)

1 italian

1 querty

Several comments on having to shift for digits – digits are an issue for me as a spreadsheet user, how do people with French keyboards get on with spreadsheets? Work, personal finance…?

Full stop maybe less so but still …………

The comments on obtaining accented characters from any keyboard are fascinating and really useful showing that whatever keyboard one can get there. Tested some of them out. Guess they have to evaluate ease of use.

And the comments on virtual keyboards on ipads etc I find superb, virtual keyboards never crossed my mind before (doh) and give me pause for thought! Should have realised before – phones can be set to all sorts of different languages, I could set my iPhone to French to test, though might go bankrupt if unable to use the bank apps :blush:

And finally, so far, the importance of accents in meaning, expressed eloquently in several posts - more to think about.

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Apologies, I didn’t mean all work in France, just meant IT work / IT security - in job adverts was possible to work cross border, English OK, the other language a +.

Appreciate that bit of post not well worded and came out as presumptuous - including for IT jobs.

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Are you sure? I use lots more commas in my writing than full stops, and I notice that in your sentence above there are 3 commas and 1 full stop. Or rather there would be if you hadn’t forgotten the final one. :wink: :grinning:

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… and for semi-colons and colons?

Oh yes, don’t use them much, except for :wink:

That didn’t work, did it? I typed ; - ). :roll_eyes:

I have a wireless Apple Azerty keyboard at work for the MacMini, which has an included numpad, so no need for shift. If I have to use my Azerty keyboard Mac laptop to just enter digits, put CapsLock on.

I often have to enter dates into my various database applications/forms/tables, etc, and don’t have an issue with that on my Macbook laptop either.

In terms of word processing, I write fairly long patent applications, anywhere between 30 to 40 pages of A4 (approx 300 wds/page), and quite frankly, typing full stops is not an issue (but I am an approximately 80% touch-type typist).

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I use an AZERTY French keyboard with an incorporated numerical pad, so shift accents etc isn’t a problem.
Never seen any job offers stipulating proficiency in using XXX keyboards. In our company, we are ask our prefered keyboard when ordering new laptops.
Our Geek IT dev’s mostly use an English keyboard and have for some reason mostly all their programs in English (maybe because most programming is in English or maybe it’s a geek thing) whereas most of mine are (my preference) in Fr.

You can get external USB numeric keypads which make life much easier.

Just adjust to your surroundings. It doesn’t really matter what keyboard you have as evidently we can all type on here with or without accents and are understood. French or English or any other language will understand. I have a French operating system so all my searches come up in French which I prefer, I also have an azerty keyboard which I prefer. However, my husband has all in English which he prefers. It really doesn’t matter what your preference is. Choose what you like!

Agreed, but I think these conversations are worth having as a lot of people are unaware of how to easily type special characters.

Sharing tips, tricks & knowledge is what forums like this are (for me) all about.