Eh? What was that?

It is quite easy for many of us that use English on a day to day basis dealing with the ACSII character set. Give a moments thought to the users that use languages that do not use the ASCII set, many European languages are still easily covered within the ASCII set with accented characters but languages like Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Indian Langauges, Thai, Cryllic and the list goes on.
When working with text, there comes a point where it is required to type in special characters, the good thing about German is that the umlaut (the two dots on top of a character like U, E or O) can be represented by adding an "e", so fuer is the acceptable variation of für. Now, if this was to be placed into a HTML document... Hmmm, you can see the issue that arises, HTML encodes it with an Unicode equivalent.

PopChar X or PopChar Win (X for OS X and Win for Windows) are the software that can be called the character Map on steroids. (The word steroids make it sound bad, but in fact it just means it is the superman version of an application) It lists out all the fonts and the characters found in that font and displays the Unicode in ASCII and in Hexadecimal, the key shortcut (if any) and the description of the character. So, I learned the hard way that I can have accented characters on the Mac by pressing the ⌥+U for umlauts ( ü ), ⌥+` for grave accents ( à ), ⌥+E for acute accent ( á ), ⌥+I for circumflex ( ô ), and ⌥+S for the ( ß ) and ⌥+⇧+2 for the € sign.

This was there but there was no app that introduced the shortcut keys to get these. Microsoft Word had a similar mapping for foreign accented characters. Even the OS X built-in Character Viewer does not display the key mapping.

PopChar sits on the Mac OS X MenuBar in the corner (by default) which is a bit strange and difficult to spot at first, but given that the menus can sometimes override and hide the menu bar icons, this is a good place for it to reside and be available at any and every invocation.

Characters can be added to a favourites list by just right clicking the characters.

The advantages of this utility can be just explained by words, it has to be seen and used to know how it works and what it can do. To give it a try, Ergonis offer a 14 day trial for the product.

Software : PopCharX
Version : 5.1
Publisher : Ergonis
Website :
Twitter : @ergonis
Platform : Mac OS X (10.4)
Demo : 14 days
Price : € 29.99

And we have a copy of PopCharX for one lucky winner, all you need to do
1. Follow @whatsin4me
2. Retweet the message "Read, follow @whatsin4me and RT this msg. You might win a copy of #PopCharX from @ergonis"