Issue 61540 - Standard MS Windows Alt-Key Unicode input fails
Summary: Standard MS Windows Alt-Key Unicode input fails
Alias: None
Product: General
Classification: Code
Component: code (show other issues)
Version: OOo 2.0.1
Hardware: All Windows XP
: P3 Trivial with 7 votes (vote)
Target Milestone: AOO Later
Assignee: AOO issues mailing list
QA Contact:
Keywords: oooqa
Depends on:
Reported: 2006-02-02 19:08 UTC by jallan3
Modified: 2014-07-11 15:17 UTC (History)
4 users (show)

See Also:
Issue Type: DEFECT
Latest Confirmation in: ---
Developer Difficulty: ---


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Description jallan3 2006-02-02 19:08:38 UTC
Microsoft Windows has from the beginning had a method of inputting characters
from  the user's 8-bit character set though the numeric keybad with Num Lock on.
The user holds down the Alt key (left Alt key on keyboards where the right Alt
Key is a Gr Alt key) while entering the decimal number of the character
required. An initial 0 indicates the the current 8-bit Windows character set is
to be referenced. No initial zero indicates the current 8-bit MS-DOS character
set is to be referenced.

This works fine in all modules, eg. holding down ALT and entering
1 inserts the happy face from the DOS character set, holding down ALT and
entering 0256 produces ÿ (y-dieresis) from the Windows 1252 Latin-1 character
set (if that is what is installed as the Windows code page.)

Under Windows XP this method was extended to allow characters above U+00FF
(decimal 255) in the Unicode set to be accessed in the same way, with or without
leading zero. So to produce a Greek lower-case alpha, which is Unicode U+03B1,
one holds down the ALT key and enters the decimal equivalent: 945, and the alpha
is inserted in most programs the allow Unicode input.

This can be tested in the WordPad program that comes with Windows XP.

However this useful method, which works in Microsoft Office also, does not work
in (I am currently running OpenOffice 2.0.1.)

Instead, the character insered is the one that corresponds to the numeric value
of what would be the last byte in the Unicode value. Alt 945 instead of a Greek
lower case alpha produces ± (a plus-minus symbol), Unicode U+00B1 instead of U+03B1.

This stripping of the second byte also occurs in some other programs in Windows,
including the system program Notepad, though Notepad can accept Unicode values
if they are pasted into its window.

Since the data from keyboard input is being received, I would think (hopefully)
that a change to allow OpenOffice to accept the full Unicode value instead of a
truncated value would be a simple one.

Inasmuch as currently OpenOffice receives incorrect values, I consider the
current behavior to be a defect.

Comment 1 lars 2006-02-04 10:18:38 UTC
confirmed with 680_m154 on WinXP Pro SP2
Comment 2 Olaf Felka 2006-03-08 12:44:45 UTC
@ sba: Is this an input method that should be supported in OOo?
Comment 3 stefan.baltzer 2006-04-05 14:44:20 UTC
SBA-ES: Please proceed.
Comment 4 eric.savary 2006-05-17 15:06:36 UTC
ES->PL: still the same in m169
Comment 5 account-to-delete 2006-06-01 13:52:05 UTC
This is confirmed on Windows 2K.

I jut want to add one more thing.

Under Wordpad, by example, it is possible to enter Unicode characters using the
following method:

<unicode-hexadecimal-character-code> alt+x


type 3BB in Wordpad followed by the key combination alt+x

The sign λ should be displayed.

My 2 cents.
Comment 6 john_jason_jordan 2008-03-28 21:10:01 UTC
This is still not fixed on OOo 2.3.1 on Windows 2000 and Windows XP, using a
variety of computers (mine and at university computer labs). The problem does
not exist on Linux, where Ctrl-Shift+u and hex works properly.
There is no way to insert characters in the Windows version except by Insert >
Special Character, or using Windows Character Map utility. Both are extremely
clumsy if you need to enter special characters a lot, as I do for linguistics
work. For me this is a showstopper. I'm having to use MS Office instead, much as
I'd prefer to use OOo.
Comment 7 jallan3 2008-03-29 19:23:32 UTC
I agree with John Jason Jordan that it is sad that neither (with
OpenOffice, version 4.0) or Microsoft (with Vista) has yet to address this issue
in respect to all programs.

However a free (though not Open Source) utility named “Quick Unicode Input†is
available at . This doesn’t handle characters
beyond the base plane but within the base plane allows input of Unicode
characters by entering either the decimal value of the character on the Unicode
keypad while holding down the Alt key or entering the hex value of the character
by entering Alt-numerickeybard-. and then the hex value (on numeric keypad or
regular keyboard) while holding down the Alt key.

This I believe is the model that should follow, save that it
should allow input of characters beyond the base plane.

Using Quick Unicode Input will probably be sufficient for John Jason Jordan’s
needs unless he is using characters beyond the base plane, so that he need not
go back to using MS Word.

Note that under Windows Vista, if you set up the program to run automatically by
putting its icon in the Startup menu folder, it doesn’t work properly, at least
on my machine. I have to start it up manually after the current session has
booted. But then it works wonderfully. I have no such problems with Windows XP.

Perhaps a note in documentation that such free programs exist with a pointer to
the website of Quick Unicode Inputm (and any other similar utilities that might
appear) would be an acceptable solution for many users until either developers or Microsoft provides a solution that works out of the

Comment 8 michael.ruess 2009-08-09 12:54:54 UTC
*** Issue 104111 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 9 michael.ruess 2009-08-09 12:55:09 UTC
*** Issue 104111 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 10 Rob Weir 2013-07-30 02:24:36 UTC
Reset assignee on issues not touched by assignee in more than 2000 days.
Comment 11 Regina Henschel 2014-01-17 14:27:55 UTC
Windows has the ability to input unicode charcters with Alt and +nnnn, but this feature has to be switched on in the registry, see
Comment 12 efa 2014-07-11 15:17:19 UTC
the Unicode Input ISO 14755 require the use of 
sequence to input unicode symbols.
You can open a bug against Windows that require a modification to the registry to accept the common universal hexcodes, still with a non standard key sequence