Normally on OS X if you hold down a key, e.g. the a you get a menu after a little while that allows you to input an accented character. It looks like this:

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Is it possible to activate this input dialogue from Emacs? Doing it the same way as on other OS X apps (by holding down a key) would be great, but I'd accept just being able to bind it to a key combination.

Edit: I install Emacs from http://emacsformacosx.com

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    Can you provide an example of an application that behaves this way? Is there an option in OS X that needs to be activated to get access to this menu, or does it require a specific OS X version? (I've heard people ask for this before but haven't been able find any program that actually work this way.) Dec 30, 2015 at 15:51
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    It works almost anywhere, except Emacs (which I run in GUI mode) and Terminal. I'm not sure when it was introduced, but I'm on OS X 10.11.2. I've gone through Settings app but cannot find any related setting, so I believe it's on by default behaviour. You have to hold down a key for some time though. BTW, I install emacs from emacsformacosx.com Dec 30, 2015 at 16:34
  • As far as I know, there is no support for this in Emacs. However, if this is a feature provided by OS X, it might be possible to add support for it in Emacs. Unfortunately, I'm on 10.10, so if this is a 10.11 feature, I can't do anything about it at the moment. Dec 30, 2015 at 17:24
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    Back when the "Press and Hold" feature appeared, it generated problems with Emacs behaviour. There seems to be no ongoing plans to support the accent pop-up. Personally, I use the alt modifiers for accents, or emacs input methods, or insert-char (C-x 8 RET) to insert characters by name or code.
    – Juancho
    Dec 30, 2015 at 17:41
  • @Juancho I use the alt modifiers for the ones I type often, and I found out about C-x 8 C-h recently, which is useful. But occasionally I need to type an unfamiliar accent and then the Press and Hold feature really shines. Dec 31, 2015 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you may not be familiar with Emacs' built-in accented character input system? Run toggle-input-method and you can pick from tons of different input methods. Start with something simple like latin-postfix and every time you type a character that has possible combining accents defined for the input method, there is an indicator in the minibuffer of the choices of keys you can strike to accent or modify the first character.

IMHO once you get familiar with one of these input methods it is much simpler and faster to use this than the "Press and Hold" dialog model.

You can read more about this in the info manual section "International Character Set Support".

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    Thank you, I did indeed not know about that, and it's as close to perfect as one could expect and so I have accepted it. This method seems preferrable to press-and-hold when there are lots of special chars, but I'd still prefer the press-and-hold for consistency with the rest of the apps on the OS and for those odd characters in a long document where activating a different input method is more of a hassle. Feb 15, 2017 at 10:25

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