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The Apple UK Anti-CSS Conspiracy

Monday 31 January, 2005 ( 5:06PM GMT)

So, I got me one o'them Mac things that people go on about so much.

I like it.

It's not long before I'm tinkering away, installing this and that - Firefox, Thunderbird, a couple of code editors... hold on a minute... Where's the bloody hash?

No, my friends, I do not expect Apple, as liberal and "down with the kids" as they appear to be, to bundle herbal narcotics with their machines, I mean the "#" character. Commonly known as the "pound sign" in the USA, here in the UK we've already got one of those - "£". And "£" is what sits on top of the "3" key on every UK keyboard. I understand that on US keyboards, "#" appears on the "3" key, but here, on any non-Apple keyboard, it gets its very own key. So where do Apple put "#" on their UK keyboards?

Scan keyboard once... can't see it. Scan it again... still can't see it. Carefully work my eyes over each key. It's not there! What am I supposed to do? Write CSS without ID selectors?! This is insane! Where's my hash?! Don't Apple want me to make lovely CSS with their sexy computers? You might as well just omit the "<" character, or even a letter or two. Space bar? Who needs it?!

Now this obviously won't come as news to any Mac savvy chappy, but I had to rely on a friendly detective to reveal that the secret lay in "alt"+"3". Oh, joy of joys, I can write CSS after all.

I'm Ali Baba, "#" is the treasure behind the door and "alt"+"3" is "Open, Sesame!"

Or something.


Comment 1

Maybe that's the official layout for the UK. How do PC keyboards look?

So said Gabriel Mihalache on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 5:26PM GMT.

Comment 2

It's just an Apple thing, as far as I'm aware. All UK PC keyboards that I've come across have a seperate "#" key just to the left of the carriage return.

So said Patrick on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 5:32PM GMT.

Comment 3

Congratulations on getting a Mac Mini! I'd get one myself if I didn't already have two Macs.

About the keyboard thing... on my Swedish keyboard, "shift"+"3" is "#", while "alt" + "3" is "£". I guess they figured that UK residents are more likely to want to type "£" than "#". That's probably also the reason for "shift" + "4" producing "€" instead of "$" on EU keyboards.

As a general rule, if "shift" + something doesn't produce what you expect on an Apple keyboard, try "alt" instead. Or even "shift" + "alt".

So said Roger Johansson on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 5:35PM GMT.

Comment 4

I have to say, your analogy is fantastic.

You get an extra guy, and five hundred points.

So said Dave Vogt on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 5:55PM GMT.

Comment 5

Its true, Apple wants you to stick to table-layouts. They'd remove the full stop to prevent you writing classes if they could!

So said Jon Hicks on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 7:35PM GMT.

Comment 6

Or perhaps they're just doing their part in the fight against "div-itis."

So said Sharif on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 8:53PM GMT.

Comment 7

lol... you think that is bad, I was at my brother in laws stag party when things went pear shaped at my work, I got an irate call so I decided to try and rectify the problem only to find that my brother in laws pride and joy was a german laptop. Not easy to figure out after a few drinks so I ended up having to phone my fiancee to pick me up and take me to work :-(

So said Alan on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 9:26PM GMT.

Comment 8

So what character do you get with Shift-4 on a U.K. keyboard? Seems to me like that's where I would've put a pound sign, to replace the dollar sign on a U.S. keyboard.

So said Jennifer Grucza on Monday 31 January, 2005 at 11:50PM GMT.

Comment 9

It's called an 'octothorpe'.
Not hash, not pound.
I know this anal comment qualifies me as a troll... I'm ok with that :)

So said Andrew K on Tuesday 1 February, 2005 at 12:58AM GMT.

Comment 10

In Spain it is in the alt+3 combo too, but it is printed on the keys :)

Here, the shift+3 is the · symbol.

So said nikilauda on Tuesday 1 February, 2005 at 1:22AM GMT.

Comment 11

Octothorpe is one of the names, yet it's not the only name. Hash is perfectly acceptable.

Shift-4 is the dollar sign, although there's also a Euro sign to the right of the number - anyone any idea how one would type this?

So said Wereon on Tuesday 1 February, 2005 at 4:52PM GMT.

Comment 12

Italian keyboards got £ on 3 and $ on 4, and the # is with the à sign (alt+à). I know this does not help but anyway...

So said Simone on Tuesday 1 February, 2005 at 4:59PM GMT.

Comment 13

to get the Euro symbol on a brit keyboard type CTRL-ALT-4 .... €


So said stoo on Wednesday 2 February, 2005 at 7:41PM GMT.

Comment 14

If you want to know where a key is, there's a keyboard viewer. It's not very easy to access, but still it exists ;)

Go to System Preferences -> International -> Input Menu. Check "Keyboard Viewer" in the list. It automically checks "Show input menu in menu bar".
You can now access the Keyboard Viewer from the input menu.
Then, as Roger Johansson said, try shift, alt, shift+alt...

(I hope there are no English errors in these sentences, I'm french and I don't speak English very well ^^)

So said Maryla on Wednesday 2 February, 2005 at 8:19PM GMT.

Comment 15

It's a little-known secret that we Americans have a 'Cheeseburger' key that when pressed, places an order at McDonalds for delivery, right to our office chair. Ahh I love slovenly capitalism.

So said will on Wednesday 2 February, 2005 at 8:34PM GMT.

Comment 16

And we have an "Afternoon tea with the Queen" key.

She'd kill me if I told you what it is though...

So said Ade Rowbotham on Monday 14 February, 2005 at 7:13PM GMT.

Comment 17


So said dan on Thursday 17 February, 2005 at 4:19AM GMT.

Comment 18

I'm a Mac user and I've recently borrowed a Linux machine from a friend. Believe it or not, it took me AGES to find the hash key (somewhere over to the right hand side); to start with I was cutting and pasting it out of a text editor's list of special characters.

So said Judes on Thursday 17 February, 2005 at 3:42PM GMT.

Comment 19

Belgian keyboard layout :
all numbers require SHIFT.
Alt Gr + 3 = #
Alt Gr + E = €
Alternate key combo for "Alt Gr" = Alt + Ctrl

So said Stef Nighthawk on Monday 28 February, 2005 at 11:40AM GMT.

Comment 20

Glad I found this thread! I thought I had a dodgy UK keyboard - Alt+3 for # though? Shame on them! ;)

I've had my iMac for 3 days now, and still don't quite understand why the " and @ are switched around from the keyboards in the PCworld - I just assumed that all key layouts were standard, but clearly not! So much to learn - still it's fun!

Can anyone explain to me how Home and End are implemented on the Mac keyboard, for use in web form text fields? I know I can use CTRL+Right arrow (or is at ALT+Right Arrow - I forget, I'm on a Thinkpad right now), but I would have thought that there would be keys that did that by default?

Sorry, completey newbie questions.....

I should really read that "flipping" manual I suppose :o)

So said JY on Friday 4 March, 2005 at 3:22PM GMT.

Comment 21

Hello everybody. I've made a UK.keylayout file which can easily be installed in OS X. This file will map the " @ # ~ \ | £ ` keys to be where you would expect them to be on a UK keyboard.

How to install
1. Unzip archive
2. Copy UK.keylayout to /Library/Keyboard Layouts/
3. Log out and then back in again
4. Go to System Preferences -> International -> Input Menu
5. Scroll down half-way to UK, tick check box
6. Scroll back to top, un-check previous setting

Download at:

Let me know what you think of it.

So said Matt Sephton on Sunday 6 March, 2005 at 1:35PM GMT.

Comment 22

That's fantastic Matt, especially as I'm using the same keyboard and a switcher device to change between a PC and a Mac. The differences between keyboard layouts was very annoying!


So said Ade Rowbotham on Saturday 12 March, 2005 at 1:12PM GMT.

Comment 23

Actually, there is a MUCH easier way to show the hash characters.

Simply switch your language from US to UK English in the International Panel in System Preferences, what is # on the keyboard will now be £.

It annoyed me to no end because I am in UK English most of the time due to spelling differences and suddenly my # character disappeared!

If you enable International language to be shown on the top bar you can switch between your two most used languages with Apple-Spacebar. I switch between Japanese and UK English quite often, and when I need the # key I click US English on the pull-down menu.

So said Lili on Wednesday 16 March, 2005 at 2:34AM GMT.

Comment 24

Well, alot of good stuff here. I came looking because I couldn't get the `€ symbol on a UK keyboard no matter what I tried.
"stoo" recommends "to get the Euro symbol on a UK keyboard type CTRL-ALT-4 .... €"------- but that doesn't do it for me.
The way I stumbled upon is (alt ~ 2,) I think that middle one is known as tilde. This assumes your keyboard has the € above the 2 number and next to the @.

Apologies for the lumpy prose!

So said Joe on Friday 18 March, 2005 at 6:34PM GMT.

Comment 25

In case anybody was wondering where the fraction keys were in OSX, here's a handy way to make your own, in any font.

Open an Appleworks page, (it's still the coolest word processor and much under-rated.)
Now, type 1/4 into the page, select the / symbol and press this combination alt shift 1, the / should now look like this ⁄ .
Next select the 1 and in the Text menu change its style to Superior. All thats left is to select the 4 and change that font size to half the size that all the characters had been originally. Voila, you now have a fraction.
It's possible to do a little extra tweeking by selecting each component and adjusting its size in small steps via the Font / Size / Smaller or Larger dialogue box. You might like to try this first at a larger font size like 36pt because it can get a bit hard to see.

So said Joe on Saturday 19 March, 2005 at 1:27AM GMT.

Comment 26

A little notice :
in FR layout, the # and the @ are placed on the same key ;)
That's make it very easy to access.

So said on Tuesday 22 March, 2005 at 9:54PM GMT.

Comment 27

I want my alt gr key to work exactly as my alt key, what should i do? please help me

So said Krishna on Friday 27 May, 2005 at 3:23PM GMT.

Comment 28

What a fuss. After over 20 years of using various systems, this has never bothered me a bit. Maybe character encodings and ffont mappings have hardened me...

So said Andy Macaulay on Tuesday 14 June, 2005 at 3:12PM GMT.

Comment 29

Not only do Apple Cupertino kidnap the '#' key on UK keyboards but they don't even think us Brits can speak (or read) English!

To whit, the Tab, Shift, Caps Lock, Return, Enter, and Backspace keys all have these funny foreign symbols on them. Whereas the US keyboard has ENGLISH words on them.

A clue to the clueless Americans reading this. The English language was invented in ENGLAND which is part of the UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, and not part of the Eastern USA (that's NEW ENGLAND). This means that we do know how to read English over here.

Those looking for a Mac compatible keyboard which shows the #, €, $, AND £ should look at it even has ENGLISH words for Shift, Tab, etc.!!

So said A loyal subject of the Queen on Tuesday 28 June, 2005 at 1:33PM GMT.

Comment 30

Thanks Patrick! My last iBook (which i promptly broke) had an American keyboard layout. My replacement has a UK keyboard and i was just pulling my hair out trying to write CSS.

So said Zach on Saturday 23 July, 2005 at 3:03PM GMT.

Comment 31

Thanks for the useful info, but I'm using a UK 15" PowerBook that does not have a delete key. Most of the time this is not a problem as the Backspace key usually does the job. The problem arises, however, in Excel when trying to delete more than one cell at a time. Any suggestions? The Delete option in the Edit menu only deletes multiple cells by actually removing rows and/or columns, which is not always what one wants. So my question is: is there a hidden delete key? Sorry if this question is a bit off the subject.

So said Matt on Sunday 24 July, 2005 at 7:53PM GMT.

Comment 32

On my 12in iBook I can press FN+Backspace and that works as a traditional 'Delete' key.

So said Phill on Monday 1 August, 2005 at 1:52PM GMT.

Comment 33

Cool Phill, that was worth waiting for - thanks!

So said Matt on Thursday 4 August, 2005 at 7:47AM GMT.

Comment 34

well talking about keyboard problems.......I have a G4 PowerBook 1.67 which my parents bought me but it has a 'Finnish' keyboard. Anyone know where to get a new 'English' keyboard or is there anyone who needs a 'Finnish keyboard and has a 'English' one they want to swap . Just converted to Mac and I'm very happy so far :-)

So said Nigel on Monday 29 August, 2005 at 12:25PM GMT.

Comment 35

Does anybody have a keyboard with cyrillic characters? And what does a portugese keyboard look like, since you guys have a slightly different alphabet to us?

So said gavin on Sunday 16 October, 2005 at 2:54PM GMT.

Comment 36

just wanted to say thanks for this. Been trying to putter around on my new mac and I'd almost given up on doing anything serious with it!

Your a star. Ok, not quite on topic but just wanted to say thanks.

So said Sarah on Wednesday 26 October, 2005 at 10:27PM GMT.

Comment 37


As someone who's also made the move, I'm rather frustrated at the change in keyboard layout. I've been a touch typist for years and just hate using another layout - especially when the label on the keys are different. A PC is easy to change, a Mac is another matter; until I found this script.

Now, I've a keyboard where the key to the right of the left shift is a backslash & pipe. The trouble is the Mac refuses to regognise this key and insists I'm typing the key to the left of the enter key.

Anyone any ideas how to use a full 102 key keyboard?

Thankyou. No, thankyou *very* much for regaining my sanity!

Oh, BTW, how do you get the keyboard to do home to the BOL and end to the EOL. Those keys seem to not work!


So said GlennG on Monday 31 October, 2005 at 1:03PM GMT.

Comment 38

. After over 20 years of using various systems, this has never bothered me a bit. Maybe character encodings and ffont mappings have hardened me.

So said patrick on Tuesday 8 November, 2005 at 2:38PM GMT.

Comment 39

Thank god someone posted this on their blog! IRC without channels is a lonely experience. Stupid apple.

So said gah on Tuesday 6 December, 2005 at 4:46PM GMT.

Comment 40

Thanks for this! I had been looking for the # key for ages and got very frustrated!

Speaking of < and >, I was in an Internet cafe in Peru 2 months ago where they had US English keyboard configured with a Spanish layout. Apart from some symbols not being where the keybord said they were, the Spanish international layout assumes you have one extra key left of the right SHIFT key to type < and >. Obviously, the keyboard being US English didn't have that key. It made it very difficult to write any HTML...

So said Bruno on Thursday 29 December, 2005 at 4:57PM GMT.

Comment 41

thanks a lot man... this really helped... ive been looking for the dumb key like crazy... i recently started programming in c++ and the first character in any c++ program has to be #... i was surviving by running macros on editors.. but this really helped...

So said Joel on Saturday 28 January, 2006 at 6:50PM GMT.

Comment 42

Fabulous! Got my Mac Mini today and was starting to think I'd bought a "Friday afternoon" keyboard ...

So said Chris on Friday 10 February, 2006 at 1:46AM GMT.

Comment 43

Thanks for this post - like others I thought I was going crazy - no # sign!!!
I agree that swapping the " and @ is going to be frustrating but hopefully I'll get used to it quickly.

So said cat on Saturday 4 March, 2006 at 11:42AM GMT.

Comment 44

Another thank you for helping me locate the hash key... was trying to port an app of mine to OS X, and couldn't find the hash key to #include anything with! You'd think they could stick a little # next to the £ on the key itself like they did with the euro. *sigh*

So said Owen Rudge on Sunday 2 April, 2006 at 10:30PM GMT.

Comment 45

Thankk you. You are a god! That was driving me insane!!

So said Aimee Tyrrell on Thursday 6 July, 2006 at 6:08PM GMT.

Comment 46

I bought a mac, what, a month now? And it's only today that I finally figured out how to write the # character without resorting to the clipboard ;-)

So said Olly on Wednesday 26 July, 2006 at 8:37PM GMT.

Comment 47

caps lock + alt + 3

odd, I know.

So said on Tuesday 1 August, 2006 at 11:08AM GMT.

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