The GTK+ Compose Key…for Windows

So last year I got a netbook with rather poor Linux support. I finally got elementary OS working on it (a blog post in itself), but for the past several months I was using Windows alone. And it was terrible, for many reasons.

  1. It looks like ass.
  2. Mobile and desktop elements are mashed together awkwardly and it just doesn’t work. A desktop user should never see a message telling them to “swipe down” to continue shutdown. Jesus.
  3. Literally every software download site is super dodgy.
  4. The default user is administrator by default??? No wonder people get viruses!
  5. No fucking compose key!

In GTK+ desktop environments like Unity, Gnome, Cinnamon, Pantheon, and more, the compose key (the right Alt key, by default) lets you type special characters with intuitive key combinations. For example, AltGr + T + M creates ™. AltGr + . + . creates an ellipsis, …. This is very useful, especially on Twitter, where em-dashes and ellipses save valuable characters, or if you need to type accented characters often. It was one of the Linux features I missed the most, especially because Windows doesn’t have a universal way of entering Unicode code points like Linux’s Ctrl+Shift+U.

There were some custom keyboard layouts floating around, but none were quite right. I got so fed up that I downloaded Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator and made my own, which you can find here.

There are a few missing characters—MSKLC doesn’t allow for third- and fourth-level dead keys, like Linux—but for the most part, it works the same. Use the right Alt key to add accents to characters, create degree and currency symbols, and more. I’ve included the source file in case anyone wants to make modifications. Hopefully other Linux users in exile can get use out of it!

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