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How to type tilde on mac

how to type tilde on mac

As a Mac user, mastering the keyboard is like holding the secrets to a treasure trove of shortcuts and symbols. One of the characters that can sometimes puzzle users is the ’tilde’ (~). It’s more than just a squiggly line; in computing, it often represents the home directory on Unix-like systems, can be used in web addresses, and is even a part of some programming languages. In this animated guide, I’m going to share a variety of methods I’ve personally utilized to type the elusive ’tilde’ on a Mac with tried and tested steps that will make you a tilde-typing whiz in no time!


Common Scenarios:

Frequent Use in Programming and Scripting 🖥

  • Using the tilde in file paths as a shortcut to the home directory.
  • Employing the tilde in Unix commands or when working with Bash shells.
  • Incorporating the tilde in programming languages for various operators or string formats.

Navigating International Keyboards 🔣

  • Attempting to type the tilde when using international keyboard layouts can be confusing.
  • Utilizing keyboard shortcuts that include the tilde in special characters or accents.
  • Troubleshooting when the tilde key doesn’t produce the expected character.

Design and Typography Challenges 🎨

  • Including a tilde in graphic design projects for artistic effect.
  • Typesetting documents that require the tilde for special notations, such as in mathematical or scientific contexts.
  • Accessing the hidden typography gems in Mavericks, and beyond for using tilde in creative ways.

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Type Tilde On Mac:

Method 1: Standard Keyboard Shortcut 📋

  • Press and hold the ‘Option’ key, then press the ‘N’ key.
  • Release both keys and press the ‘Spacebar’ to place a standalone tilde (~).
  • If you’re looking to place a tilde over a letter (ñ, ã), type the desired letter immediately after the above combination without the ‘Spacebar’.

Note: This is the quickest way to type a tilde and is handy for frequent use.

Conclusion: This method allows for efficient use of the tilde in most day-to-day scenarios.

Method 2: Using the Character Viewer 🧐

  • Open the Character Viewer by pressing ‘Control + Command + Space’.
  • Type ‘tilde‘ into the search bar to locate the symbol.
  • Double-click the tilde symbol to insert it into your text.

Note: Great for finding various styles of tilde and other unique characters.

Conclusion: A reliable method when in need of different styles or when standard keyboard shortcuts fail.

Method 3: ASCII Code Input ✍

  • Ensure that ‘Unicode Hex Input‘ is enabled in System Preferences under the Keyboard section.
  • Hold down the ‘Option’ key and type ‘007E‘ to create the tilde.

Note: This method is reserved for users comfortable with hex codes and alternate keyboard layouts.

Conclusion: It’s a more technical approach but can be very precise and useful for certain users.

Method 4: Text Replacement Feature 🔄

  • Open System Preferences and navigate to the ‘Keyboard‘ then ‘Text‘ tab.
  • Click the ‘+‘ button to add a new text replacement.
  • In the ‘Replace‘ column, type a unique abbreviation you’ll remember (e.g., ‘;;tld’).
  • In the ‘With‘ column, enter the tilde (~).

Note: Perfect for those who need to type the tilde frequently in their work.

Conclusion: Once set up, it can be a real time-saver and highly customized.

Method 5: Customize Keyboard Layout 🛠

  • Download and use a tool like Ukelele to create a custom keyboard layout.
  • Assign the tilde symbol to a key of your choice within the software.
  • Install your custom layout and select it in System Preferences under Keyboard and Input Sources.

Note: Best suited for users with unique typing needs that go beyond standard configurations.

Conclusion: This permanent solution allows for completely personalized typing experiences.


Precautions and Tips:

Enhance Your Typing Skills ✨

  • Practice the shortcuts until they become second nature, ensuring quick and efficient typing.
  • Explore keyboard customizations to accommodate your workflow; a personalized layout can enhance productivity.
  • Remember to use the Character Viewer for symbols and accents that are less commonly used, providing access to a vast array of characters.

Mastering Mac Typing

Navigating the intricacies of a Mac keyboard should not be an arduous task. Indeed, the tilde is not a character most people use daily, but for those in specific fields like programming or design, or those immersed in languages where the tilde plays a crucial role, knowing how to summon it effortlessly is invaluable.

There are additional considerations to factor in when mastering the Mac keyboard. For instance, familiarize yourself with the shortcuts for other frequently used characters and signs for a more streamlined typing experience. Explore more shortcuts on Apple’s support page.

Also, take advantage of the accessibility features Apple offers, such as Sticky Keys, which can be particularly helpful if holding multiple keys at once proves difficult. More information on that can be found through the Apple Support Center.

Lastly, as the nature of communication grows ever more digital, refining your keyboard prowess will undoubtedly pay dividends in terms of productivity and efficiency. From programmers to writers to the everyday user, familiarizing oneself with these tips will certainly set you on the path of becoming a Mac keyboard maestro.


By now, the tilde should hold no secrets from you on a Mac. Whether it’s for coding, design or to inflect a span of text with a touch of the Spanish language, the methods shared above cover all the bases for typing this wavy little character. Experiment with these strategies and find the one, or perhaps the combination of several, that resonate best with your regular typing habits. Continual practice will engrain these methods into your muscle memory and before long, you’ll be typing tildes as smoothly as the character’s elegant curves. For more keyboard expertise, never hesitate to refer to the comprehensive Apple Keyboard Shortcuts list.


To type a tilde (~) on a Mac, press the ‘Option’ (or ‘Alt’) key and the ‘N’ key simultaneously, then release.

Yes, the shortcut is ‘Option’ + ‘N’, then press the spacebar if you want the tilde standalone.

No, the tilde requires the ‘Option’ key along with the ‘N’ key to type it on a Mac.

If you have a Mac keyboard without an ‘Option’ key, it might be labeled as ‘Alt’ instead. Use ‘Alt’ + ‘N’ to type a tilde.

First press ‘Option’ + ‘N’ to create the tilde accent, then press the ‘n’ key to place it over the letter.

You cannot change system preferences for the tilde specifically, but you can add keyboard inputs under ‘Keyboard’ preferences.

Custom shortcuts can be made in System Preferences under ‘Keyboard’ > ‘Shortcuts’, but not for individual characters like the tilde.

Visit the Apple support homepage at Apple Support for detailed guides on typing special characters.

Check your keyboard layout settings or try using the onscreen keyboard. Further troubleshooting can be done via Apple Support.

Third-party software options exist, but for the tilde, it’s straightforward to use the built-in keyboard shortcut so additional software typically isn’t necessary.