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I've seen it's possible to insert characters with their hex codes by using ctrl+x 8 RET but on regular buffers. I'd like to insert in the minibuffer itself.

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By doing C-x 8 RET, just as if you were inserting into any other buffer. The prompt to insert a character will replace the existing prompt in the minibuffer, but the existing prompt is not gone. It is merely hidden, and it will return once you are done picking a character to insert.

Incidentally, it allows you to type character names as well as their number, and the names are usually easier to remember.

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