Typing in random Unicode code points

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/05/18 10:00 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/05/18/419117.aspx

People ask all the time how they can type in random Unicode data.

Some people point out the vast array of supported Keyboard Layouts on Windows.

Others point out how you can create your own keyboards with MSKLC.

Still others talk about fancy things you can do with the numeric keypad.

And then still others like to go on about typing a code point value in Word, highlighting it, and then hitting <Alt+X>.

Personally, I like to just install the Unicode IME, first added for Traditional Chinese in Windows 2000 and available in every version of Windows since then. Just install it:

and then it will be on your list of available input languages....

Simple to use -- just switch to it with <Left Alt+ Shift> and start typing hex numbers in any application....

and then when you type a full Unicode code point, it will commit the character automatically!

A very cool stealth feature available in all even moderately recent versions of Windows! :-)


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# KJK::Hyperion on 18 May 2005 12:32 PM:

Hmmm, can't see it in Windows 2000. The "Chinese (Traditional)" layout doesn't even appear to be an IME

# Eusebio Rufian-Zilbermann on 18 May 2005 2:33 PM:

Cool! With this and http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U16A0.pdf I can type Runic in Word 2006!

Jokes aside, this may be a very useful tip for our QA people. Thank you very much.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 18 May 2005 8:57 PM:

On Win2000, when I choose Chinese - Taiwan in the first dropdown, I have "Unicode IME" for Chinese - Traditional in the 2nd.

# Isaac Chen on 19 May 2005 3:51 AM:

How do we type in random Unicode code points in Windows 98?
I know this OS is old, but there are still many using it. And your execelent MSLU makes Unicode Applications possible.

# BobH on 19 May 2005 6:00 AM:

Very cool -- thx for the tip.

A minor issue is that if you use this to input non-Chinese characters (e.g., Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew) in apps that keep track of language info (e.g., Word), all non-Chinese text seems to be identified as English -- not very helpful in a lot of cases. Thinking of workarounds to this lead to the following:

Question: I thought I'd try adding Hebrew input language but use this Unicode layout IME -- but Windows XP doesn't offer this layout for Hebrew (or Arabic or English or probably lots of other languages). Why not?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 19 May 2005 11:14 AM:

I will cover the Language Bar in a special posting all of it own, soon. :-)

# Michael S. Kaplan on 19 May 2005 11:16 AM:

Regarding win98, I do not really have an answer for there -- not even MSLU really helps there much since almlost every API converts out of Unicode and calls the OS version....

# KJK::Hyperion on 19 May 2005 5:55 PM:

Ok, it looks like the elusive IME only appears if you choose Chinese as a language. Not an optimal solution :-|

# Michael S. Kaplan on 19 May 2005 6:09 PM:

It may be possible to use an unattend file with intl.cpl to install it under other languages, as described in http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=289125 (this interface has more flexibility than the Language Bar UI).

# Harold Fuchs on 4 Jan 2008 1:28 PM:

I'm on Win XP Pro SP2 + all updates. There is no version of Chinese in the list of available languages. What am I doing wrong, please?

[e-mail address removed]

# Michael S. Kaplan on 4 Jan 2008 1:55 PM:

Sounds like somethng for the Suggestion Box (link over on the right side)?

# Harold Fuchs on 4 Jan 2008 2:36 PM:

Well, I found out how to install Chinese on my XP system but, having done so and rebooted the thing simply doesn't work in any application I have: IE7, Wordpad, Outlook Express etc.

Also, how do you hold down the Alt key and type an "E" *without* invoking the current program's Edit menu? (See the examples where the hex value 00E is entered)

Please, is this an April Fool or what?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 4 Jan 2008 2:44 PM:

Harold -- SUGGESTION BOX.  This is a new topic (actually three new topics at this point, one that you figured out) you are asking about so I am not going to answer it here....

# Harold Fuchs on 4 Jan 2008 2:49 PM:

Sorry but why is it a *new* topic? Your method for entering Unicode characters in Windows doesn't seem to work on a perfectly standard Windows XP system. I'm trying to find out why. How can that be a new topic? What would you suggest I call it?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 4 Jan 2008 3:08 PM:

If you leave it here and I forget that it is here before I get a chance to answer it (keeping in mind the tons of other questions I hvae gotten first, etc.), then it will never be answered.

Bottom line -- I can't litter posts that are 2.5 years old with new thing to talk about that require fuller info like screen shots or formatted datas or whatever.

I will leave the choice to you on whether that is an acceptable risk....

# Harold Fuchs on 4 Jan 2008 7:13 PM:

OK, I've entered a new topic ...

Michael S. Kaplan on 14 Feb 2008 10:38 AM:

# me on 22 Jun 2008 9:43 AM:

can you do this in vista too?

I don't find a unicode layout!

# Michael S. Kaplan on 22 Jun 2008 11:30 AM:

In other blogs within this Blog I explain that it has been removed and even provide workarounds....

kinokijuf on 30 Dec 2011 11:14 AM:

How do I make it work in command prompt?

Michael S. Kaplan on 30 Dec 2011 2:16 PM:

Use the PowerShell ISE! :-)

Michael_Grant on 4 Mar 2012 1:19 AM:

It's interesting to know there is a way to type in an arbitrary hex code to get a unicode character.  But I was wondering, could an input method like used with Japanese, Chinese, or Korean be used to enter those fancy characters and display them on the screen so you know what you're typing?

For example, one might want to enter say the symbol '≆'.  Using a technique similar to the Asian input method, one could visually find the Unicode character they are looking for without needing to pull up a chart of characters and track down the numeric code.

Abhijeet on 1 Oct 2012 4:58 AM:

How to type 'बॅटरी' using unicode (phonetic)?

aspaceswithnowordsingle on 29 Aug 2013 5:35 PM:

Just a heads-up, "Keyboard Layouts on Windows" linked in this thread 2 www.microsoft.com/.../keyboards.aspx is now a 404; looks like this might be the new location?.. msdn.microsoft.com/.../bb964651.aspx

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referenced by

2008/06/26 Using one Unicode input method at a time (Using the Unicode IME on XP)

2007/11/29 The UK Extended keyboard -- over-extended? Or weirdly extended?

2006/07/20 Return of the Unicode IME

2006/05/29 When ALT+X seems to be failing...

2005/12/16 More on handling [Unicode] input in the console

2005/12/15 Handling [Unicode] input in the console

2005/07/18 Typing in random Unicode code points redux

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