I wrote a post last year that covered how to access special characters on your Mac. In it, I went over using the built-in keyboard and character viewers to access many characters and accents that aren’t visible options on a standard Mac keyboard. To access this post and learn all about these features, click here.
While these are still very useful features, Mountain Lion introduced a much quicker and more convenient way to access some of the more common special characters needed. This shortcut was one of the features Mountain Lion borrowed from iOS on the iPhone and iPad, where it has been available since their initial release.
Let us say, for example, that I needed to write the name Françoise. The cedilla (ç) needed for the fifth character is not one of the standard characters on the English keyboard. In Mountain Lion, all I would need to do is press and hold the C key until a small menu of choices appeared near my cursor.
This particular key gives me three options, and there are numbers under each of them. To choose one, I could click on with my mouse, or simply press the corresponding number on my keyboard.
Not every key on the keyboard hides these extras. As of this writing, the keys with these type of special characters available are: e, y, u, i, o, a, s, l, z, c, and n.
Jason Merrill, Mac & iOS Consultant