Instructions for Configuring Your Keyboard for Spanish Without Disabling it for English

Procedure and Settings for Bilingual Keyboard

Follow these steps and your keyboard will work in English and Spanish without requiring you to reset, disable or do without any key functions!

Open any WORD document, blank or not. Then go to the Menu and click INSERT, then SYMBOL. Select NORMAL TEXT. A chart showing small characters will appear; in order to read them or select them, you have to run the cursor over them and LEFT CLICK to enlarge or highlight them.

You have to create the shortcut key settings one letter at a time. The following procedure for configuring the “á” can be used to configure all the others.

A. Highlight the á in the chart and select SHORTCUT KEY. Another window will open presenting you more options.

B. The first option asks the user to enter the key combination desired to produce the á. For this accented vowel, and for all the other vowels, it is recommended that you select the use of ALT + the vowel, in order to be able to type the accented vowel by holding down the ALT key and typing the vowel.

C. Click ASSIGN.

D. Highlight any other key combinations that may appear in that window and click REMOVE.

E. Return to the character chart in order to continue assigning the desired key combinations to produce the various accented vowels or other characters needed, as well as to erase the unwanted default combinations previously set up by MICROSOFT or another user. I highly recommend the following key combinations:

á = ALT + a

é = ALT +e

í = ALT + i

ó = ALT + o

ú = ALT + u

ñ = ALT + n

¿ = ALT + l (ele)

Ñ = CTRL + n

¡ = CTRL + l (ele)

ü = CTRL + u

NOTE: The above method will NOT work in e-mail, unless you have set WORD to be your text editor in Outlook. Other programs, such as PPT also require a different solution. In order to type the characters in these environments, use NUMBER LOCK and the numeric keypad to the right of the typical desktop keyboard. Simply hold down ALT, then enter the following numbers to obtain the following characters.

160 = á

130 = é

161 = í

162 = ó

163 = ú

129 = ü

164 = ñ

165 = Ñ

168 = ¿

173 = ¡

Happy Keyboarding! Now your semicolon will still be a semicolon instead of an ñ and ALT + n will give you ñ when you want it!


  • Author's more than 20 years experience teaching and translating Spanish.