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A mac US-based keyboard layout thought for people who have to write Spanish characters from time to time


This keyboard layout for mac moves/changes some of the "option" key modifiers so they are more useful to people who have to switch between English and Spanish on their day-to-day job using mac.

In other words, this layout makes easier to write the characters on this list: ¡¿áéíóúüÁÉÍÓÚÜñÑ

Glyph   Us Layout   us-4-es layout   us-4-es  alt
  á       ⌥ e, a         ⌥ a            ⌥ ', a
  é       ⌥ e, e         ⌥ e            ⌥ ', e
  í       ⌥ e, i         ⌥ i            ⌥ ', i
  ó       ⌥ e, o         ⌥ o            ⌥ ', o
  ú       ⌥ e, u         ⌥ u            ⌥ ', u
  Á       ⌥ e, ⇧ a       ⌥ ⇧ a          ⌥ ', ⇧ a
  É       ⌥ e, ⇧ e       ⌥ ⇧ e          ⌥ ', ⇧ e
  Í       ⌥ e, ⇧ i       ⌥ ⇧ i          ⌥ ', ⇧ i
  Ó       ⌥ e, ⇧ o       ⌥ ⇧ o          ⌥ ', ⇧ o
  Ú       ⌥ e, ⇧ u       ⌥ ⇧ u          ⌥ ', ⇧ u
  ñ       ⌥ n, n         ⌥ n
  Ñ       ⌥ n, ⇧ n       ⌥ ⇧ n
  ü       ⌥ u, u         ⌥ ⇧ ', u
  Ü       ⌥ u, ⇧ u       ⌥ ⇧ ', ⇧ u
  ¿       ⌥ ⇧ /          ⌥ /
  ¡       ⌥ 1            ⌥ 1


  • Accented vowels are accesible via ⌥ + vowel / uppercase vowel.
  • On the ES layout, accent is on the ' key. That's why I've included an "alternative" way to type the words, using ⌥ ' and then the vowel. This makes the ' key behave like on the ES layout, except that you need to remember to press ⌥ before the accent.
  • The ~ accent is not possible to produce. Istead, ñ and Ñ are produced directly with ⌥ n and ⌥ N.
  • The ¨ accent has been moved to ⌥ ⇧ '. This makes tying ü and Ü a bit more complex, but simplifies the much common case (ú and Ú).
  • The opening exclamation mark makes a lot of sense on the US layout, so I have not modified it on this layout. I wanted to include it on the list above for completeness.


  1. Download the us-4-es.keylayout file from this repository
  2. Copy it to /Library/Keyboard Layouts (You will need administrative persmissions)
  3. Go to System Preferences/Language & Text/Input Sources and activate us-4-es (you might need to scroll quite a bit to find it on the list)
  4. Make sure "Show input menu in menu bar" is activated
  5. A flag representing your current keyboard layout should have appeared in the menu bar, near the top right. Click on it, and you should see us-4-es in the menu that will appear.
  6. You can use us-4-es now

What you lose

This new mapping makes the Spanish Glyphs easier to type, but at a (normally negligible) price. The Spanish glyphs now "obscure" some glyphs that previously existed in the U.S. layout.

Most of those glyphs are greek/mathematical in nature, and most people will not need them anyway.

One important exception are the ¨ and ^ accents, previosly on the u and i letters, respectively. If you need to use those frequently, you might not want to use this layout.


The .keylayout format is xml-based, and a bit of a pain to work with via a text editor. Instead of using vim to create this layout, I used a tiny app called ukeleke. It provides a more human-friendly way to create keyboard layouts, and I definitively recommend it (just remember that "Dead keys" means "accent keys"). Give it a look if you want to do a uk-4-es layout, for example.


Mac keyboard layout for users of U.S. layout who need to write Spanish characters occasionally.







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