Using the input mode latin-1-prefix I can enter "~a" which gives me "ã". I am looking for a similar way to enter the characters "āēīōū" (vocals with bars).

So my question is:

  1. What input mode does allow me to input the characters "āēīōū"?
  2. Is there a general method to retreive a list of input modes that include a specified character?
  • How about C-x 8 C-h to get a list of possible diacritics?
    – lawlist
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 1:39
  • I just wrote this comment to the answer you deleted: For most (if not all) the Spanish characters you are using, you can simply go C-x C-m C-\ and select latin-1-prefix. C-h C-\ then shows you how to enter them. Unfortunately I don't know which input mode the characters "āēīōū" belong to that I need for typesetting Latin. Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 1:40
  • Thank you very much -- I'm now in the process of revising my user configuration files to free up some of the keyboard shortcuts I had previously assigned to dedicated Spanish characters -- Emacs is a never ending learning curve. :)
    – lawlist
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 1:43
  • Good to hear it helped. However your C-x 8 way doesn't seem to include the characters I need, but thank you for pointing it out to me. Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 1:46

1 Answer 1


There's no general way to find out what input methods give access to a given set of characters. An input method is written in Emacs Lisp, and it can use any Emacs Lisp primitives to build characters. From a quick look under lisp/leim/quail, I see that the latin-4-postfix, latin-4-alt-postfix, and TeX input methods include vowels with macrons.

The whole point of Emacs, however, is that it is extensible — so why don't you define your own input method? Say, something like the following:

(quail-define-package "macron-underline" "Macron" "MC")

 ("_a" ?ā)
 ("_e" ?ē)
 ("_i" ?ī)
 ("_o" ?ō)
 ("_u" ?ū)
 ("__" ?_))

Then say M-x set-input-method macron-underline, and you're all set.

(Aside. Many, many years ago, under the old, pre-Unicode MULE, I designed and implemented the polish-slash input method. While the code included in Emacs is no longer my original code, I'm still using it today. End of aside.)

  • Thank you! You are right it might be the easiest to just define my own input mode. Didn't even think of this, but makes perfect sense! Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 11:26

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