The Ultimate Guide to Windows ALT Codes: Unlocking Special Characters and Symbols

7 minutes reading time (1419 words)

## Introduction

If you've ever found yourself in need of typing special characters, signs, symbols, or even emojis that are not readily available on your keyboard, then you're in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the world of Windows ALT codes and how they can be used as keyboard shortcuts to quickly input a wide range of non-ASCII characters.

What are ALT Codes?

ALT codes are a set of keyboard shortcuts specifically designed for Microsoft Windows operating systems. These codes allow users to enter special characters, signs, symbols, and even emojis that are not present on the standard QWERTY keyboard. By holding down the ALT (Alternate) key and typing a sequence of numbers on the numeric keypad, users can insert these unique characters into their text.

How to Use ALT Codes?

To use ALT codes, you'll need a keyboard that has a separate numeric keypad on the right side. If your keyboard doesn't have a numeric keypad, don't worry. We'll explore alternative methods for inputting accents and special characters later in this guide.

To type a special character using an ALT code, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the NumLock key is turned on.
  2. Press and hold down the ALT key.
  3. On the numeric keypad, type the ALT code value for the desired character.
  4. Release the ALT key.

For example, let's say you want to type the degree symbol (°). With the ALT code value of 0176, you would hold down the ALT key, type 0176 on the numeric keypad, and then release the ALT key to insert the degree symbol.

It's important to note that ALT codes can vary depending on the OEM Code Page setting on your computer. Additionally, using ALT codes without the NumLock key turned on may result in unintended characters being inserted.

The Original Set of Windows ALT Codes

The original set of Windows ALT codes, also known as OEM codes, were developed by IBM and later adopted by Microsoft. These codes have become widely popular and are still used today, alongside the newer ANSI codes introduced by Microsoft.

Here's a table of the original Windows ALT codes for special characters, signs, symbols, and emojis:

SymbolALT Code
§ 21

Additional Groups of Special Characters

In addition to the original set of ALT codes, Windows provides shortcuts for entering various groups of special characters. These include accented Latin letters, non-Latin letters, infrequently used punctuation marks, mathematical symbols, currency symbols, emojis, letter-like symbols, and other miscellaneous graphical symbols and signs.

Let's explore these additional groups of special characters and their corresponding ALT codes.

Accented Latin Letters

Accented Latin letters are commonly used in Western European languages. Here are the ALT codes for accented vowels:

AccentCapitalLower Case
Grave À (0192) à (0224)
Acute Á (0193) á (0225)
Circumflex  (0194) â (0226)
Tilde à (0195) ã (0227)
Umlaut Ä (0196) ä (0228)

To input an accented letter, hold down the ALT key, type the corresponding ALT code on the numeric keypad, and then release the ALT key.

Non-Latin Letters

Windows ALT codes also support the input of non-Latin letters, such as Chinese, Cyrillic, or Greek letters. These codes vary depending on the specific character set or language. For a comprehensive list of ALT codes for non-Latin letters, refer to the specific language pages.

Punctuation Marks

ALT codes provide quick access to infrequently used or uncommon punctuation marks. Here are some examples:

  • En Dash (–): ALT code 0150
  • Em Dash (—): ALT code 0151
  • Ellipsis (…): ALT code 0133
  • Quotation Marks (“”): ALT codes 0147 and 0148
  • Exclamation Point Inverted (¡): ALT code 0161
  • Question Mark Inverted (¿): ALT code 0191

To insert these punctuation marks, follow the same steps as before: hold down the ALT key, type the corresponding ALT code, and release the ALT key.

Mathematical Symbols

ALT codes also provide shortcuts for entering various mathematical symbols. Here are a few examples:

  • Plus-Minus (±): ALT code 0177
  • Greater Than or Equal To (≥): ALT code 242
  • Less Than or Equal To (≤): ALT code 243
  • Square Root (√): ALT code 251
  • Infinity (∞): ALT code 236

These symbols can be useful for mathematical equations or scientific notations. Remember to use the same ALT code entry method as described earlier.

Currency Symbols

ALT codes offer easy access to currency symbols from around the world. Here are a few examples:

  • Euro (€): ALT code 0128
  • Pound Sterling (£): ALT code 0163
  • Yen (¥): ALT code 0165
  • Cent (¢): ALT code 0162
  • Dollar (₧): ALT code 158

These symbols can be handy when working with different currencies in financial or business contexts.


Yes, you read that right! ALT codes can even be used to input emojis. While not as extensive as the range of emojis available on modern devices, there are still a few classic options you can use:

  • Smiley Face (☺): ALT code 1
  • Heart (♥): ALT code 3
  • Male Symbol (♂): ALT code 11
  • Female Symbol (♀): ALT code 12
  • Musical Note (♪): ALT code 13

These emojis can add a touch of fun and expressiveness to your text.

Letter-Like Symbols

ALT codes provide access to various letter-like symbols. These symbols resemble letters of the alphabet and can be used for stylistic purposes or to create unique visual effects. Here are a few examples:

  • Alpha (α): ALT code 224
  • Beta (ß): ALT code 225
  • Gamma (Γ): ALT code 226
  • Delta (δ): ALT code 235
  • Omega (Ω): ALT code 234

Explore these symbols to add a creative flair to your text.

Miscellaneous Graphical Symbols and Signs

ALT codes also cover a range of miscellaneous graphical symbols and signs. These symbols can be used to represent various concepts or objects. Here are a few examples:

  • Smiley Face (☻): ALT code 2
  • Eighth Note (♪): ALT code 13
  • Sun (☼): ALT code 15
  • Up Arrow (↑): ALT code 24
  • Down Arrow (↓): ALT code 25

These symbols can be utilized in various contexts, such as graphic design, presentations, or personal messaging.

Alternative Methods for Inputting Accents and Special Characters

If your keyboard doesn't have a separate numeric keypad, or you prefer alternative methods for inputting accents and special characters, there are other options available.

One popular method is to use the Character Map utility provided by Windows. This utility allows you to search for and select specific characters, including accents and special symbols, from a comprehensive database. To access the Character Map utility, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Start menu and search for "Character Map."
  2. Open the Character Map application.
  3. Browse or search for the desired character.
  4. Click on the character to select it.
  5. Click the "Copy" button to copy the character to your clipboard.
  6. Paste the character into your text document or application.

Another option is to use keyboard shortcuts specific to certain applications, such as Microsoft Office. These shortcuts may differ from the standard ALT codes but can provide convenient access to commonly used special characters within those applications.

For more information on alternative methods for inputting accents and special characters, refer to the specific language pages or consult the documentation of your preferred text editing software.


Windows ALT codes are a powerful tool for quickly inputting special characters, signs, symbols, and even emojis into your text. Whether you need to add accents to letters, insert mathematical symbols, or convey emotions with emojis, ALT codes provide a convenient and efficient solution. Remember to use the correct ALT code for the desired character, hold down the ALT key, and release it to insert the character into your text.

With this ultimate guide to Windows ALT codes, you now have the knowledge and resources to unlock a world of special characters and symbols. Explore the possibilities, express yourself creatively, and enhance your text with the power of ALT codes!

Additional Information: Please note that ALT codes may vary depending on the language settings and keyboard layout of your computer. Some applications or software may have their own specific shortcuts or methods for entering special characters. Always refer to the documentation or help resources of your specific software for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

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