Character Map

What Does Character Map Mean?

Character Map is a free utility available in all Windows operating systems for inserting special symbols, accented letters or foreign-language characters into any Windows-based application. Character Map is a useful utility program, especially when dealing with word-processing programs like Microsoft Word.


Techopedia Explains Character Map

As keys are not allocated for certain special characters, Character Map serves as an important utility for placing special symbols into applications. Character Map can be invoked in Windows by typing charmap in the command prompt or by navigating to System Tools and then clicking Character Map or double clicking the charpmap.exe from its location in the system. Additionally, many applications that use Character Map have an “Insert Symbol” feature that opens Character Map.

Upon selecting a character in Character Map it is magnified, allowing the user to have a closer look at it. Microsoft Windows also has provided keyboard shortcuts for the characters found in Character Map. In the case that a user is frequently using a particular character, he/she can learn the keystroke allocated to the character which is available in the status bar of the Character Map. Holding down the Alt key and the corresponding letter or number key on the keyboard, the character is placed in the application.

Character Map is useful in many ways. For one, most special characters need not be assigned on the keyboard and can be found in the Character Map. Therefore, a special keyboard is not necessary. Character Map is especially useful in the case of foreign languages, and for certain symbols used in mathematics or word processing.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…