One of the improvements which Irish language students/teachers have enjoyed as we've moved from the typewriter to the computer is the expanded character sets of our digital fonts, which include extra characters with various diacritical/accent characteristics. The acute accent, drawn ascending left-to-right over vowels, is the most important diacritical in modern Irish. For some, their computers make it easy to include such accented letters in their writing, while for others the "trick" remains elusive.
Fadas on the Macintosh computer
From its inception, the Apple Macintosh computer has offered support for non-English character sets, keyboards and characters. For folks using a Mac with an English-language keyboard and the "Classic" Mac OS (systems 6 through 9.2.2), you can add a fada by typing the "option" key, then e, then the vowel on which you want a fada placed. Thankfully, Micheal Brady came up with some nifty "tweaks" that allow Mac users to apply a fada by simply typing the "option" button before the vowel they want to accent. You can find Irish Accessories here:
(There are also some other goodies in the Accessories package).
Alas, Irish Accessories does not work for Mac OS X (10.x), but the option-e trick mentioned above still works. Know any shortcuts for fadas on OS X? E-mail us.
Fadas on Microsoft Windows computers
The slightly older world of "IBM compatible" computers which run one of the many flavours of Microsoft Windows is an entirely different story. These computers account for more than 90% of home & business computers, due in large part to the successful early marketing of the Microsoft Windows operating system. If you own a Windows PC, here below are some approaches you can try.
With most versions of Windows, you can type fadas using the following keyboard commands:
á : ALT + 0225
Á : ALT + 0193
é : ALT + 0233
É : ALT + 0201
í : ALT + 0237
Í : ALT + 0205
ó : ALT + 0243
Ó : ALT + 0211
ú : ALT + 0250
Ú : ALT + 0218
For Windows 2000 & XP:
Install the MS "Gaelic" keyboard layout, following the instructions under "How to add an input locale or keyboard layout?" at http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/drintl/faqs/kbdfaq.mspx. You may need to have your Windows CD-ROM handy during installation.
When it is installed, you may obtain:
* acute-accented vowels by apostrophe, then the vowel;
* grave-accented vowels by backquote (`), then the vowel.
The apostrophe is also obtained by ALTGR/apostrophe.
The acute-accented vowels are alternatively obtained by ALTGR/vowel, if the application in use allows it.
For a graphic of this keyboard, go to http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/reference/keyboards.aspx and choose "Gaelic".
Unlike earlier versions of Windows, 2000 and XP facilitate installation of several MS keyboard layouts and dynamic switching between them.
Fadas using "Macros" in Microsoft Word
If you only ever use fadas in a word processor, then check your user MS Word manual about how to create a "macro" shortcut. Alas, these gimmicks don't work system-wide, so are impractical for most folks.
Fadas on other operating systems
Got a tip about typing fadas of systems other than Mac or Windows? Let us know!