Ever had to type a hash on your Mac? That’s a ‘#’, by the way. It turns up in HTML mark-up and, of course, Twitter. But look for it on a standard Mac keyboard and it’s nowhere to be seen. Hit Option-3, and there it is, problem solved.
Here’s a trickier one. You’re using a PC keyboard on a Mac. We sometimes do and we know that many others are stuck with them. How do you type a backslash? Hit the PC key and you get §. Which isn’t much use. It’s time to delve into your Mac’s Language & Text settings.
Open up the panel in System Preferences and click Input Sources. Tick the box labelled Keyboard and Character Viewer. This adds a new icon to the main menu bar. Click it and choose Show Character Viewer. You’ll find several categories of special character. Head down to punctuation and the backslash is there, alongside the equally elusive pipe symbol. Both are used in programming. If you need it frequently, select the character and click the Settings menu. Choose Add to Favourites. The next time you need it you can select the required character and click Insert or, more simply, drag and drop the special character into place. You can do the same for other difficult-to-find keys – like the tilde (~) key
Want to take it a step further? You can assign a keyboard shortcut to type any special character. If you’re using a PC keyboard, it might as well be the backslash key! Go back to Language & Text, choosing Text this time. Make sure the Character Viewer is on display. Under the Symbol and Text substitution box, click the plus icon. In the Replace column, hit the backslash key (or any key combo you choose). Next, drag and drop a backslash from the Character Viewer to the With column. Note: this only works with desktop Mac applications – we were unable to make it work with Gmail in Chrome, for example.