How to easily use French accents on any computer

I am so sorry that it took me so long to find out the information I am giving here.  For years as a French teacher, I tried numerous ways of producing the accents, some better than others.  My biggest frustration was  when the method I chose ended up looking like what I call “gobbledygook” in the e-mail I sent to my francophone friends.  I finally ended up using the ALT key + a number for the accented letters and memorized that until I found out that you can easily add different keyboards on any computer and toggle between the American one and the other ones you choose. 

In my job with ASC Direct Inc., I have shared this information with many language teachers, most of whom had never heard of this.

I have to say, that while in France, I never told Fabienne that I did this to her computer so as not to have to deal with the difference between the American QWERTY and the AZERTY keyboard.  She would have freaked so I set it up upon arrival and cleared it out before leaving!

Anyway, here is how you can do it, you cannot believe how many different language options are available.  The best is that you can use this in e-mail and it works.

Canadian Multilingual Standard 

This keyboard layout is commonly used in French speaking Canada. English speaking Canadians mostly use the same keyboard layout as in the United States, unless they are in a position where they have to write French on a regular basis. In addition, the Canadian Multilingual Standard layout can commonly be found on portable computers (laptops) marketed in Canada.

A remarkable characteristic of the Canadian Multilingual Standard keyboard is the number and variety of its shift states and dead keys, thanks to which it can be used to type just about all accented Latin characters, including such exotica as the ġ (dotted g) of Maltese or the ĵ (circumflexed j) of Esperanto.

 To set this up on a PC, follow this protocol:Select:

  • Start
  • Control Panel
  • Regional and Language Options (this may change slightly from PC to PC)
  • Languages
    • Click on “Details”
    • Under “Input Languages,” scroll to:  FR  French  (Canada)…(you will probably also see just below the explanation of  “Canadian Multilingual Standard”)
    • Click on “Okay”
    • Click on “Okay”


You can toggle between the French and English and also between other keyboards if you choose to add them.  You will see EN for English and FR for French on the screen tool strip.  You can also usually toggle by hitting the shift and Alt keys as well.

For other languages, just decide which keyboard you want and locate it…you can find this on all computers.  To select a keyboard you are interested in using, check out Wikipedia.

To set up on Mac, follow this protocol:


  • System Preferences
  • Click on:
    • International
    • Input Menu
      • Scroll down to Canadian French – CSA
        • check it
      • Check Show Input if it was not already checked

You can then toggle between flags

Once you set this up, go to Wikipedia and make a copy of the look of the keyboard you have chosen and you can use it as you type until you have memorized the locations!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s