General Question

flo's avatar

What if the computer keyboard doesn't have the key with the < and the > signs?

Asked by flo (10479points) December 30th, 2012

Also the backward slash, is often missing from certain keyboards. If it were a typewriter, to make an X you can use the backward slash, go back and type the forward slash key over it. Why don’t the keyboards have that feature?

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9 Answers

jerv's avatar

Backslash is an important character, at least to hardcore PC users, and it used to be mandatory back in the days of DOS, so any keyboard that is missing them is incompletely marked and any keyboard config file that omits them is non-compliant.

Look for the | (pipe) key and you will often find your backslash, just as the comma and period are usually your < and > whether they are marked thusly or not.

There are all sorts of things that you don’t see on the keyboard that are actually there. Look for the ½ key, or the ¿.

jaytkay's avatar

I Google the missing character and then copy and paste.

Just wanted to add my 2¢.

CWOTUS's avatar

On a Windows PC, learn the “charmap” application (charmap.exe). You can run it from Start / Run / charmap. This will show you ALL of the characters you can type on nearly any keyboard (including characters in languages you may never have heard of). You can find the characters you need, “select” and “copy” them for pasting into other applications or documents.

If you look around, you can also learn how to enter a lot of common characters, such as °, ÷, ¥, £, ¢ and others (anything you want, really, if it’s an ASCII character) using the Alt key and the number keys from the numeric keypad. I think what you’d want to look for is “ASCII” in Wikipedia. That’ll get you a good start.

There are also easy programs to enable you to “remap” keys on your keyboard into characters that you frequently require.

You can also use Microsoft Office programs (and others, I suppose, but I use Office) to do “Autocorrect”. So, for example, I can set up an Autocorrect in Word or Excel that will look for times when I type in $yen$ and have that replaced (automatically, as I type) with ¥.

gailcalled's avatar

Mac has a character viewer with gillions of characters and a keyboard viewer with many interesting ones, such as the diacritical ones for language.

flo's avatar

Thank you all very much.

All the keyboards I used have always ½ but right now it is not working when I use it with the Alt key as usual I am using the forward slash

2davidc8's avatar

Great suggestions, @CWOTUS! I hadn’t thought of using Autocorrect to type the occasional foreign word with diacritical marks.

CWOTUS's avatar

The tough thing about using shortcut keys and Autocorrect is memorizing what your shortcut combo really is. Hence $yen$ and $pound$ for ¥ and £, for example.

I hadn’t even mentioned my absolute favorite method, though. I use AutoHotKeys (free from to store all kinds of key remaps, password shortcuts (for example, one of my work passwords is F00Kingpassw0rd – because of the combination of length, uppercase, lowercase and digits that have to be included, which I have mapped to a much simpler – and easier to remember and type – combination of keys that types F00Kingpassw0rd instead).

I wouldn’t recommend AHK to someone who wasn’t already pretty familiar with all of the above, though. It’s powerful as hell, but you can also get into trouble with it. (I also have hotkey combinations to start programs, so that I don’t have to hunt for them on the desktop or in the Programs listing, for example, all managed in AHK. This can also be done in native Windows, of course, but AHK lets me see everything at once, without having to examine each program, icon by icon.)

2davidc8's avatar

@CWOTUS Thanks for the tip. But if you use Autohotkeys for passwords, won’t that make your passwords easier to crack?

CWOTUS's avatar

Easier to crack on my machine, I suppose. But whenever I walk away from the keyboard I lock it with Windows Key + L combination (a normal Windows shortcut), so they’d have to crack the computer password first.

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