How to Access Special Characters on iPhone and Mac (and Emojis on MacBook)


Our keyboards are limited by space and have only the most important keys and functions on them. But what does one do when they need to use more obscure symbols and characters that are not present on our physical or even digital keyboards? Well, the first thing you should do is not worry, because our iPhones, iPad, and Macs can give us easy access to thousands of characters and letters to make our work look more serious than it is.

While the standard keyboard on iOS lets you use lower and upper-case letters along with common characters and punctuation marks, etc., you can go deeper and use letters with umlauts and a lot more too.

Here’s how you can access these extended characters like the degree symbol on your iPhone 13, iPad, or MacBook.

How to Access Special Characters on iPhone and MacBook

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the keyboard in Notes, Messages, or any other app.
  2. Press and hold on a letter
  3. If the letter has extended characters, a popup will appear with options
Special Characters on iPhone

4. Drag your finger to the special character and lift it to select

Here’s a GIF of the process on the iPhone:

Special Characters on iPhone (GIF)

Those letters or keys that don’t have any extended characters won’t show any options so that’s fine.

Here are some more options you should know about:

To get the degree sign, press and hold 0:

Special Characters on iPhone

To get Spanish punctuation, press and hold the exclamation or question mark:

Special Characters on iPhone
Special Characters on iPhone

How to Access Special Characters on MacBook

Accessing special characters on MacBook is very similar as well.

Just go to Notes and hold down a key on your keyboard…

Special Characters on MacBook

Once the special characters popup, either use the number key below the character to choose them or you can simply drag your mouse over it and select as well. Moreover, you can also use the arrow keys to move right or left and press enter to select your chosen character.

Unlocking Emojis on MacBook

While it’s intuitive to use emojis on your iPhone, it’s not so obvious on the MacBook. So here’s the secret:

Press Control + Command + Space and a window will popup that looks like this:

Special Characters on MacBook Menu

This gives you access to a world of symbols, characters, shapes, and most importantly, emojis! 😉

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