FreeCompose: Easily Type Special Characters on a Regular Keyboard

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On a regular Windows computer, if you wanted to type special characters like © or ™ you would either enter the character’s Alt code (Ex. Alt + 0169 for ©) or copy-paste the character directly from the Windows Character Map application to your desired location. If you frequently need to enter some Unicode character, you may find this cumbersome. So here’s FreeCompose, a great tool that lets you enter special characters directly from your regular keyboard.

FreeCompose
FreeCompose

Once you install and run the program, you can simply press the special Compose key (more about it below) followed by ‘O’ and ‘C’ to render © on the screen. By default it comes pre-set with key sequences for many special characters. You can edit any of these characters key sequence in the Options settings tab (right-click on FreeCompose system tray icon > Options), or a add a new key sequence if you find one missing in the list.

FreeCompose works by replicating the Compose key functionality on a regular keyboard. Compose key is a special modifier key that’s available on some keyboards which allows users to type characters that are not found directly on the keyboard. As a substitute to the Compose key, this program lets you use your keyboard’s Application key (default), Caps lock key, Print key, or any other key from the list of supported Compose keys in Features tab. If you find no use for the existing Caps lock key, this is a nice one.

Inside the Features tab, you will find more settings to configure the program to automatically start with Windows and enable Compose key. Other settings here include to swap Caps lock key with any other key, and to change the Caps lock function, or disable it completely.

FreeCompose Features tab
FreeCompose Features tab

A system beep is heard every time FreeCompose is activated. Unfortunately, if it gets annoyting, you cannot disable it from within the program. But the developer has suggested some other ways:

  • On Windows 7, you can mute “System Sounds” in the Volume Mixer (right-click on Volume tray icon > Volume Mixer).
  • Or run this command inside the command prompt to disable the beep driver: “sc stop beep” /li>
    To re-enable beeps, you will have to restart your computer. Other than this little issue, the program works great and is quite easy to use.

    FreeCompose works with Windows XP and above versions. Download links for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available at the below link.

    Download: FreeCompose