How do I make a keyboard shortcut for special characters?

I’m taking several courses that require the use of IPA extensions. I’m really tired of going to special characters every time I need an engma (ŋ).

You can see this Hotkeys for other languages' characters - #2 by KamilLanda

Since 5.1 (I think) it is possible to quickly insert any character by it’s unicode ID. For example, the ŋ character is U+014B so in your document just type “014b” (without quotes) and then press Alt-X. You can see the unicode ID on the insert special character dialogue.

In order to get simpler shortcuts to special characters you need to use macros. There was an extension called “compose special character” or something like that, but I think is not maintained any more and in fact I cannot find it on the extensions site.

Slow. OP’s asking for something quick.

If you have characters you use frequently, the easiest way may be to simply map an autocorrect word completion. Something like :n: could be a trigger. This wouldn’t clog up the normal keyboard shortcuts, and I would think memorization would be easier.

3 letters for each symbol? “Clog up”?? Really…? If that really were an issue, there’s always the option of loading different keyboard customisations (see my answer).

On Windows you could use autohotkey, or “c’t active aid” which allows to set keystroke patterns (such as “en#” which then immediately replaces the pattern by the special character you need).

On Apple there are also some shortcut apps, however, the Keyboard preferences has a “Text” section, which offers the same functionality as described before.

A third way may be to use AutoReplace in LibreOffice, or AutoText, which I use to insert large text templates and tables.

The accents and special characters available directly on the keyboard are dependant on the operating system definition. On my system Alt Gr g and G become ŋ and Ŋ.
What language keyboard are you using or have you defined? On some keyboards, for example English (GB) extended, French, German, Swiss for example, ŋ and Ŋ are defined using the right Alt Gr key. g becomes ŋ, G Ŋ, and a number of European accented characters are available. American has some accents but not ŋ nor Ŋ. It is worth exploring the keys already directly available or could be available.

Wheee! These Alt Grs come up with some funny combos all right! But the OP has (I assume) installed an IPA font … the question is how to use this, and the answer is quite simple (see my answer)

The main point is to get Libre, at least on the Mac, to do what nearly every other program can do, which is to press and hold the letter you want, a table with the French accents associated with that letter pops up, and choose the right accent with the arrow keys or the number listed with the accent. Far faster and more intuitive than the Microsoft-like table Libre seems to rely on. Come on, Libre, step to Apple standards on this one and get this fixed!

Unfortunately I can’t yet downvote. Inherently slow. The OP is asking for something quick.

Look. Not only did you not answer the question, there is literally nothing whatsoever intuitive about this suggestion. You know what’s the intuitive result of holding the N key down? A line of Ns.

The copy of Office that my dad copied onto our Windows XP from his old Windows 98 back in 2001… that old thing was able to type the French accents faster than what you’re saying. I know that because I actually did French in gradeschool. All you had to know was that you hold Ctrl while typing the accent you want, and then you’d get that accent on the next letter you typed. Ctrl-’, then a. What do you get? “á”. Ctrl-’, A? Á. Three guesses what Ctrl-’, o would get you. What about Ctrl-~, n? I bet you can guess what those give you too, because that’s an intuitive system.

Having to know the precise order of all possible accents for this letter, so that you can know the precise number of times to tap on the arrow keys to get the letter you want… that’s not even intuitive.

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The OP is clearly seeking a one-keystroke solution.

The simplest way to do what the OP wants is the most obvious: record a macro inserting a symbol, then set a key combo under Tools → Customise.

I assume you have installed an IPA font, as your example, engma, seems usually to be absent from the small section of “IPA extensions” for general-purpose fonts.

Alt+key or Alt-Shift-key are probably going be a pretty good choice, the only problem then being that that can then interfere with selecting menus if, like me, you are dedicated keyboard user and hate having to use the mouse.

NB customisation is universal (i.e. you can’t have it just for one document, or say one template), but it is possible to save and load customisation configurations under Tools → Customise → Keyboard … so you could load a specific set of IPA hotkeys if you knew you were going to be working on an IPA-heavy document, and then go back to another configuration when finished.

The single application case will require to press one key and some modifiers. The time saved within a year this way as compared with hitting five keys per single insertion may not pay for the time needed to record macros and to customize…
At the time of the original question there was no exectly satisfying solution, but now the input of 4 Hex digits and a subsequent Alt+X (probably locale dependent) should mostly be satisfying.
The engma e.g. which was mentioned in the OQ would be 014bAlt+X(lower) then. (And you can toggle the representation for the character in front of the insertion cursor to learn its unicode in Hex).


“should mostly be satisfying”


As per the comment by SvenrykHauser above, this is a very standard thing which is a major deficiency in Writer as it currently stands. This lack of functionality is pathetic.

Didn’t get the clue.

You are answering my more than two years old comment referring to a different comment from the same old time where the typing (insertion) of some letters with French accents was stressed. Anyway I missed a mention concerning the keyboard and it’s layout. Using my (logitech) keyboard with German standard layout in Writer with English UI and locale, I easily get é, É, è, È, ê, Ê by first pressing the accent key, and then the letter key whether with or without the Shift modifier.

The original question (again 2 years older) was about IPA extensions, and a generalizing anwer can only be that a limited set of glyphs not already assigned in a simple way to keys in the used layout can be made available. This can either be done assigning little macros to (modified) keys, by using the autocorrect tool the clever way @paul1149 suggested, or probably even by defining AutoText entries with well rememberable shortcuts. A special variant of the macro approach is Compose Special Characters v 2.0.11 » Extensions. (I don’t use it myself.)

There simply are too many unicode code-points and too many thinkable use-cases to do “it” for all of them. What’s “pathetic” about that?

OK, you want to use IPA fonts.
If you are a Windows user (if not, sorry), you may want to install SIL IPA fonts and Keyman Desktop.

(Choose ‘Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic Fonts’, Charis SIL, or Doulos SIL)

The method I use is to employ the ASCII codes with the keyboard in Numlock.
Hence à is ALT and 133, é is ALT and 130 etc. This works in e-mail clients such as Thunderbird and on web sites as well.
Lists of ASCII codes are readily available on the web.


The original question contained the (small) engma (U+014B) as an example, and talked of IPA extensions.
It thus was about characters not available using ASCII.
Do you know of a related update of the Alt+NumPad feature?

I was just looking at the topic heading and did not appreciate the particular problem detailed by the initial poster.