Reader's question: Enter the double hyphen ⸗ on the Mac

Double hyphen on macOS

A reader wrote to me today as he was looking for a special character to use handwritten on his birth certificate to separate his double first name. He described it as a “slanting upward and slightly shortened equal sign”.

I admit, I was at first confused and didn't quite know what was meant. The crux of this type of special character is often that you don't know the correct typographic name and therefore don't know what to look for. After a few emails, my reader Wolf-Dieter found out what the sign is called. It is the so-called “double hyphen”.

Unfortunately, the double hyphen cannot be reached with a short key combination on the Mac (Photo: Sir Apfelot).
Unfortunately, the double hyphen cannot be reached with a short key combination on the Mac ... Usually. But with our trick it is (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

No input option for the double hyphen under macOS

For most special characters, macOS usually has a keyboard shortcut that you can use to call them up. With the double hyphen, however, I found that I couldn't find a combination with the ALT, SHIFT or CTRL key that would have output a double hyphen.

The detour via text replacement of the Mac

But we're not so easily defeated, because if you often need the double hyphen, for example because it is part of your own name, you want to have a short way to enter it.

Fortunately, the Mac offers a kind of text abbreviation for such things, with which you can replace one character string with another while typing. Can practically do what the autocorrection always does if you have written something wrong from their point of view and it is then replaced without feedback from them.

The way to this little help works like this:

System Preferences> Keyboard> Text

The text abbreviations and the appropriate outputs can be defined there. In our case, I've decided that I want to type two equal signs in a row for a double hyphen in the text.

An abbreviation can be created via the system settings of the keyboard, which in future will bring the double hyphen to light - with two keystrokes.
An abbreviation can be created via the system settings of the keyboard, which in future will bring the double hyphen to light - with two keystrokes.

So I create a new entry and enter the two equal signs at the front. The double hyphen must now go to the back. Since I don't know how to type it, I just steal it from the Wikipedia page with copy and paste and put it in my abbreviation. You can poke him right here: ⸗.

I now write in any text under Word, Pages, Numbers or two equal signs in Apple Mail or anywhere else, the Mac replaces them with the double hyphen (⸗).

Mission complete, I would say! : D

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2 Responses to “Reader question: Enter double hyphen ⸗ on Mac”

  1. Hey Jens
    A second method of installing the "DOUBLE OBLIQUE HYPHEN" works via the character overview of the keyboard system setting. ME is an underestimated functionality of OSX: in the menu bar under the flag icon (to do this, the "Emoji and symbol overview" must be clicked via the keyboard system setting) call up the "Show emoji and symbols".
    Admittedly a somewhat restrictive name, but in the window you will find (almost) all characters that can be reached in any way. The window is divided into three vertical columns:

    - on the left a list of character categories (in which we mostly only use the category "Latin")
    - in the middle an overview of the characters available in the categories (some characters are listed in more than one category)
    - If you click on a character, it appears in the upper right corner with a preview, the name and the Unicode + UTF-8 code.

    For everyday use, the area at the bottom right is interesting, where all active fonts are listed that contain the clicked character.

    If you don't know what a character is called or the large Wikipedia overview is too confusing, this route may be faster.
    The corresponding character (if it is contained in the active font) is placed at the current cursor position in the text or in the layout by double-clicking or by copy / paste.

    A useful method for me when designing fonts to test the integrity of my fonts in everyday life.

    1. Hello Martin! Thank you for your note or your addition. I also had this list of characters in my head and tried it out with Wolf-Dieter, but this double, slanted hyphen does not appear in either his or my case. Maybe we have “lost our sight”. In any case, this tool is very useful for finding special characters with just a few clicks.

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