For symbols not there, hit Control+Command+Space to open the emoji/unicode typer. Hit the icon in the upper right to switch to a view where you can add favorites, like those arrows above.
Some favorite shortcuts of mine besides the dashes:
- Option+; → … (proper ellipsis)
- Option+[ and Option+Shift+[ → “ and ” (admittedly, typing in an editor with smart quotes is better)
- Option+] and Option+Shift+] → ‘ and ’
- Option+= → ≠
- Option+Shift+= → ±
- Option+x → ≈
- Option+, → ≤
- Option+. → ≥
- Option+Shift+8 → ° (degree symbol, don’t confuse with similar characters)
- Option+p → π
I read something related to Perl 6 work that resonated: Unicode opens up a lot more possibilities than we’ve taken advantage of, we just don’t yet have the hardware to make it convenient. Keys labels as screens is a perennial idea; maybe once somebody does a great job of it, we’ll see those Option shortcuts frequently used.
• Compose . . → …
• Compose < " and Compose > " → “ and ”
• Compose < ' and Compose > ' → ‘ and ’
• Compose / = → ≠
• Compose + - → ±
• (couldn't figure out ≈)
• Compose < = → ≤
• Compose > = → ≥
• Compose o o → °
• (no compose for π)
I’ve customised my Compose key quite a bit.
I added things like:
- Greek characters from Vim’s digraphs, so p star = π, l star = λ, &c. (Looks like WinCompose’s defaults now actually include asterisk-first ones, star p → π, so I might drop my additions.)
- Emoji, :), :D, XD, :/, :S, &c.
- Improved curly quotes, whereby I super-conveniently type curly quotes all the time: ;; → ‘, :: → “, '' → ’, "" → ”. (Look at them on the keyboard to figure out the reasoning. ∷ is available as 2:.)
I contemplated, but didn’t add, Vim’s box drawing digraphs; there are a few collisions, and I only ever use box drawing characters in Vim, so I’ll just use Ctrl+K there.
http://temp.chrismorgan.info/.XCompose is my current .XCompose. I’m using Windows these days, so that’s with WinCompose.
Aagh! I mean... and so it comes full circle. Does no one remember when "emoticons" were sideways ASCII art? Does no one wonder why entry (8) in a list gets turned into "open paren smiley face with sunglasses?" Kids these days...
Why do I use all the fancy Unicode things? Because they’re there!
You can create your own compose sequences in ~/.XCompose. I mapped pi to Compose * p, taking the idea from Plan 9: https://9fans.github.io/plan9port/man/man7/keyboard.html
I've did this for vowels with macrons — ā (-a), ō (-o), ū (-u), in particular because they are useful in romanised Japanese.