In a society as vast and diverse as ours, switching between languages and special characters to communicate with our colleagues, friends, and families is necessary. Have you ever copied and pasted letters with accents from the Internet? Like most of us, you have, but with Windows 10, there are easier ways to add special characters to names, documents, and foreign language homework.

Suppose you use English but use languages with accented letters or diacritical marks. In that case, you may enjoy adding the English International keyboard. The English International keyboard makes adding special characters to your documents easy and seamless.

Installing the English International keyboard

To install the English International keyboard, you will need to have the English (United States) keyboard installed on your computer. Type "language" in the Windows 10 search bar and select Language settings.

Language settings

Once in language settings, scroll down to Preferred languages. Here, you will see the keyboard languages you have installed. If you don’t already have the English (United States) keyboard installed, select Add a language.

Preferred languages

Type “English (United States)” in the Search box and select the English (United States) keyboard and select the Next button.

English_united states_language

Once you have the English (United States) keyboard installed, you can add the English International keyboard. Select English (United States) and choose Options.


Within the Language options: English (United States) settings, scroll down and select Add a keyboard.

Add a keyboard

Scroll down and select United States-International.

Now you should see the United States-International keyboard listed under your installed Keyboards. You can now close out the Language settings unless you would like to install more keyboards or modify the settings.

Switching between keyboards

Now that you have more than one keyboard installed on your computer, there are two ways to quickly switch between them.

1. Keyboard shortcut - press the Windows Key + Space bar to flip through the keyboards installed on your device. Your list of keyboards will appear on the right side of your screen.

keyboard shortcut

You can confirm which keyboard you are currently using by looking at the taskbar next to the date and time. To ensure you are using the international keyboard, it should look like the image below.

International keyboard image

2. Taskbar – You can also change the keyboard language by selecting the language bar on the right side of the taskbar and choosing the keyboard language you would like to use.

Typing international characters

After installing the English International keyboard, there are two ways to type the international characters – typing a keyboard sequence or using the right-Alt key.

1. Keyboard sequence – The easiest way to type the international characters is the learn the keyboard sequence using punctuation characters in combination with the letters. For example, with the English International keyboard active, press 'and then the e key to get é. Or by pressing ~ and then the letter n, you will create ñ.

keyboard sequence

When you type the punctuation mark, nothing will happen until you press the corresponding letter. Once you have pressed the second character, then you will see the accented letter.

Note: The international characters will only appear when you type the correct sequence of special punctuation with the proper letter. Suppose you press the key of a character that can't receive an accent mark. In that case, two separate characters appear – the punctuation mark and the letter. If you want to use the punctuation mark as it is and not as an accent, like a quotation mark, press the punctuation, and then the space bar.

2. Using the right-Alt key – another way of typing the international characters is to press the right-Alt key while typing the corresponding letters. There are two Alt keys on most keyboards. To create the international characters, hold down the Alt key to the space bar's right, and press the letter you want. If you wish the accented character to be capitalized, hold down the right-Alt key, the Shift key, and then press the corresponding letter.

Below is a diagram of the English United States - International keyboard:

The diagram is color coordinated because you can activate a different set of characters depending on the keys you choose. The orange characters or the characters to the left of a key are activated by the right-Alt + Shift + desired letter. The blue characters or the characters to the right of the key are activated by right-Alt + desired letter.

If you don't type international letters regularly, then you can use your regular keyboard most of the time and then quickly switch to the English International keyboard by pressing Windows Key + Space. When you're done, press Windows Key + Space to switch back. If you type a lot with two or more languages, you can add additional languages to your computer. On the other hand, if you type primarily in English, but on rare occasions need to type letters with diacritical marks, you can use the emoji keyboard shortcut without having install additional languages.

The English International keyboard can be a real time-saver when typing in multiple languages. It takes a little bit of effort to learn the key combinations, but once you have used them a few times, it will become relatively quick and handy. Install it today and give it a try.