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How to type the delta symbol on mac

how to type the delta symbol on mac

Many of us who often work with mathematical, technical, or scientific documents occasionally need to type various special symbols that aren’t readily available on standard keyboards. The delta symbol ( <3> ), for instance, is an essential character in various fields such as mathematics, engineering, and the sciences to represent change or difference. As a Mac user, you can insert the delta symbol in several ways, from keyboard shortcuts to special character menus. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my personal experiences with different methods to type the delta symbol on a Mac, ensuring you have all the necessary tools for your documentation needs.


Common Scenarios:

Mathematical Equations

  • Writing equations in a document or email where the delta symbol represents a variable or change.
  • Editing an academic paper that requires the use of Greek letters like delta in formulas and expressions.

Scientific Documentation

  • Creating scientific reports or papers that involve thermodynamic changes, represented as delta.
  • Labelling graphs or charts where the delta symbol indicates a difference between values.

Engineering Design

  • Annotating blueprints or schematics where delta represents tolerances or variations.
  • Preparing engineering specifications, which include thermal expansion coefficients usually expressed using the delta symbol.

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Type The Delta Symbol On Mac:

Method 1: Keyboard Shortcut

  • Place the cursor in the document where you want to insert the delta symbol.
  • Press Option + J on your Mac keyboard to type the lowercase delta symbol ( ).

Note: This keyboard shortcut inserts the lowercase delta symbol, which is more stylized than the uppercase delta symbol ( ). Depending on the font, it may appear more like a fish than a triangle.

Conclusion: This method is the quickest for inserting a lowercase delta symbol. It’s convenient for users who need to type this symbol frequently in their work.

Method 2: Using Special Characters Menu

  • To insert an uppercase or lowercase delta, click where you want to place the delta symbol in your document.
  • Press Command + Control + Space to open the Character Viewer.
  • Type ‘delta’ in the search box, and you’ll see a list of delta symbols in different fonts and styles.
  • Select the delta symbol you prefer and click to insert it into your document.

Note: The Character Viewer offers a variety of symbols and is useful when you need different styles or fonts for the delta symbol.

Conclusion: This method provides more variety and style choices for the delta symbol, perfect for documents requiring a specific appearance.

Method 3: Using Unicode Hex Input

  • Enable Unicode Hex Input in System Preferences under ‘Keyboard’ settings and select ‘Input Sources’.
  • Switch your keyboard input to Unicode Hex Input from the top menu bar.
  • Hold down the Option key and type 0394 for uppercase delta (Δ) or 03B4 for lowercase delta (δ).

Note: Ensure that the Unicode Hex Input is enabled in your keyboard preferences before attempting to use the Unicode.

Conclusion: Using Unicode Hex Input is a reliable way to insert the exact delta symbol you need based on its Unicode standard.

Method 4: Copy and Paste from Web

  • Locate the delta symbol on a webpage, such as a Unicode character table or other online resource.
  • Select the delta symbol, right-click and choose ‘Copy’ or simply use Command + C.
  • Go to your document and paste the symbol using Command + V.

Note: Make sure to check the font styling as it might differ after pasting into your document.

Conclusion: Copy and paste method is straightforward and efficient, especially for those who do not need to insert the delta symbol frequently.

Method 5: Text Replacement Feature

  • Open System Preferences and navigate to ‘Keyboard’ then click on ‘Text’.
  • Click the ‘+’ button to add a new text replacement. In the ‘Replace’ column, type an abbreviation you’ll remember, such as ‘;delta’.
  • In the ‘With’ column, paste the delta symbol that you’ve copied from a webpage or Character Viewer.
  • Whenever you type the chosen abbreviation in any document, your Mac will automatically replace it with the delta symbol.

Note: This can save a lot of time if you type the delta symbol regularly.

Conclusion: The text replacement feature is a convenient automation tool for inserting the delta symbol effortlessly in repetitive tasks.


Precautions and Tips:

Smart Shortcuts 🧠

  • Learn and regularly use keyboard shortcuts for quick access to symbols like the delta if you type them frequently.
  • Set up text replacement shortcuts in your Mac system preferences for symbols that you use often.
  • For heavy documentation needs, consider using a third-party app like TextExpander that provides extended text replacement features.

Additional Resources for Mac Users

For Mac users, knowing how to type special characters and symbols can significantly streamline your workflow. Apple provides various support articles on how to use special characters, which can be found on their support page. Don’t hesitate to refer to these resources or the Apple Support Community for additional assistance.

Moreover, consider exploring other keyboard layouts like the U.S. Extended or ABC Extended keyboard options that offer more options for special characters. These can be accessed from the same ‘Input Sources’ section under the Keyboard preferences where you enabled Unicode Hex Input.

Familiarizing yourself with the Character Viewer can be highly beneficial. It houses a plethora of characters from various languages and symbols, which can come in handy for various professions and academic fields.

Finally, remember the importance of having your system software updated. Apple often includes new features and improvements that may enhance the usability of special characters and symbols. Hence, checking for updates in the ‘Software Update’ section of System Preferences can ensure your Mac is equipped with the latest functionality.


While it may initially appear daunting to type the delta symbol on a Mac, the methods I’ve shared—leveraging keyboard shortcuts, the Character Viewer, Unicode inputs, web resources, and text replacements—should provide ample options to suit your needs. Whether you’re composing complex scientific papers or simply need to express mathematical changes, these techniques offer efficient ways to incorporate the delta symbol into your documents. Don’t forget to check out the vast array of symbols available in the Character Viewer and explore additional typing options under Mac’s keyboard preferences for facilitating your documentation tasks.


To type the uppercase Delta (Δ), press Option + J on your Mac keyboard.

For the lowercase delta (δ), there isn’t a direct shortcut, but you can use the Character Viewer. Press Control + Command + Space to open it and search for delta.

Yes, you can use the Unicode Hex Input method. Enable it in System Preferences, then type 0394 (uppercase) or 03B4 (lowercase) while holding the Option key.

In Word for Mac, go to the ‘Insert’ menu, select ‘Symbol’, and then find the delta symbol to insert it quickly.

Activate the Emoji & Symbol viewer by pressing Control + Command + Space, search for delta, and double-click the symbol to insert it.

Yes, in Photoshop on Mac, you can use the Glyphs panel or the Character Viewer to find and insert the delta symbol.

Custom shortcuts can be set in System Preferences under Keyboard > Text, where you can create a replacement text with the delta symbol.

Without a numerical keypad, you can still use the Character Viewer (Control + Command + Space) or copy and paste the symbol from the web.

For frequent use, consider creating a Text Replacement in System Preferences > Keyboard > Text or use a specialized snippet tool for quick insertion.

To learn more about typing special characters on a Mac, explore Apple’s official support page at