How To: Writing French Accents with a QWERTY Keyboard


You might be confronted with this problem if you bought your PC in the States and are using it to write in French. Writing even a short text can be very tedious when you have to use the insert symbol function everytime you want to write an “e” with an accent aigu…and there are a lot of accent aigus! Here’s an easy technique that will allow you to type French accents in a snap:

  • Go to  Start > Control Panel > Regional and Language Options
  • When the new window pops up, select the 3rd tab: “Keyboards and Languages
  • Click on “Change keyboards…” to see a list of your keyboard languages.
  • Add the following language: “United States-International”.

**I would advise you remove your previous language as it can be a pain to switch from one keyboard to another, and it sometimes does do this while typing. Very irritating…. Or you can leave it as it is and come back later. Just make sure “United States-International” is now at the top of the keyboard list (using the “move up” button).

Now, open now a blank e-mail or Word document to try it out! If you wish to write a word with “é”, type your accent first “ ’ ” followed by “e”

Here is a summary for the most common accents and tricky French letters:

‘ + e = é
` + e = è
^ + e = ê
^ + u = û
‘ + c = ç
` + a = à
“ + o = ö
“ + i = ï

One thing you will notice now that you have switched to the United States-International keyboard is that some of your actions in need to be followed by the space bar to become effective. This is the case with apostrophes. If you’d like to cite something, you need to type on the apostrophe symbol and then the space bar to make it appear.

This can seem a bit complicated at first, but I can assure you it all becomes automatic and efficient after a short while.

Here’s to the being rid of “accentless” or painstakingly tedious French texts for good!


  1. Avatar

    It doesn’t work for me, when I try your solution I get :


    I don’t see any help on the web

    • Avatar

      Hmm, that’s odd, I use this solution myself on my personal laptop without any issue. The only thing I could think of is your computer may be defaulting to the standard US keyboard still, even though you’ve added the US International keyboard. Do check the bottom bar just to be sure; if you’re seeing “ENG US” next to the time on the bottom right instead of “ENG INTL”, you need to click on it and manually select the Intl counterpart. One easy way to fix this issue is to use the same steps described in the article to manually delete the standard US keyboard, so the only one Windows will be able to default to will be the international version. Just be aware you’ll need to get used to using spaces to getting characters such as ‘ on their own!

  2. Avatar
    free proxy

    Hello,I log on to your new stuff named “How To: Writing French Accents with a QWERTY Keyboard” like every week.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about free proxy.

  3. Avatar
    Nicolas Cadilhac

    You may be interested by the Keyxpat tool. It gives you instant access to all accentuated and special characters of any language without any shortcut or virtual keyboard. For example é, è and ê are all on the E key and you won’t have to move your hands.


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