Note: Mac users can easily type German characters using the "Option" key. See item 6 below.
1. Use "telegraph" style. You can always put an 'e' after an umlauted vowel: ä = ae, ö = oe, ü = ue, and you can also write ß as ss (as the German Swiss do).
2. Use 'alt' codes. You can write umlauts by holding down the 'alt' key and using the following codes on the number pad (not the numbers across the top of the keyboard):
- ä = Alt + 132
- ö = Alt + 148
- ü = Alt +129
- Ä = Alt + 142
- Ö = Alt + 153
- Ü = Alt + 154
- ß = Alt + 225
4. Change your keyboard to US-International Keyboard. This is similar to #3, but keeps all the symbols as on an English keyboard. This is really a good method if you are using a laptop without a number pad.
a) In the Control Panel folder, click on "Regional and Language options."
b) Select the "Languages" tab, and then click the "Details" button. This brings up "Text Services and Input Languages."
c) On the "Settings" tab of the new window, click on "Add.." This brings up the "Add Input Language" window.
d) Input language should be English (United States). Click to check the "Keyboard layout/IME" radio box, and in the drop-down box, select "United States - International". (If it's already installed, it won't be there). Click on OK, click on Apply then OK on the Text Services and Input Languages window, and click OK on the Regional and Languages Options window.
e) You should now see a small keyboard icon on the lower right part of your display, just to the left of the System Tray and just to the right of the "EN" English keyboard indicator (Fig 1 below). Alternatively, if you have the Microsoft Language Bar open, it will be at the top of your display (Fig 2 below). You need to select the "United States - International" option.
5. Use DeKey. For Windows users (from XP on), we offer DeKey, a free utility that makes it much easier to type German characters using the right Alt key. For example, right Alt + s = ß or right Alt + a = ä.
Download DeKey from this site.
6. Mac user options. To type an umlauted character such as ä, use 'option' + u, and then type an 'a' (or o, or u) which will produce ä (or ö or ü). This also works for uppercase (capital) letters. To type the ß, simply type 'option' + s. The Mac OS also offers various international keyboard settings, similar to those in Windows.