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I've said it before and I'll say it again: Somebody really just needs to clone Apple's input method on Linux and Windows. Then you don't need to copy and paste — "é" is just one more keystroke than normal "e", option-e-e. This alone solves probably 95% of the international issues I encounter to the satisfaction of everyone involved.

I believe that is the purpose of the AltGr [0] key, is it not?

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AltGr_key#US_international

On X11, the keymap can be set to "US International" which is the same as a stock US layout but with deadkeys and an AltGr key. I find it to be even easier than Apple's input method.

You're right, I should have mentioned that. I admit to only having learned about that recently, but it didn't sound quite right to me. You really like it better? As I understand it, the US International keymap makes any character that might be used as a deadkey always act as a deadkey, right? Because that sounds a little annoying for programming. In a Ruby program, even a French or Spanish one, probably most of the ` and ~ characters are going to be syntax, not diacritics. (But like I said, I haven't gotten to try it, so I might have gotten the wrong impression.)

I found it annoying enough that I now use US International without deadkeys. And definitely "Alt gr-o" is a lot easier than the "Option-e o" that I'm forced to use on the school's Macs.

Actually that's my configuration of choice, being Spanish, I use a UK keyboard + AltGr and it's perfect. I find the UK layout more comfortable for programming, and still can type Spanish when needed.

This is just the same for me in Norway. The Norwegian layout has open curly brace on AltGr + 7, which is very painful when programming. US with AltGr is so nice, but it just makes me more of a weirdo up here..

I'm a Norwegian living in the UK using a US keyboard layout.. Definitively couldn't handle using a Norwegian layout for programming any more.

Have you tried to use a Compose Key on X servers? You can use it as follows:

    Compose-Key e ' => é
    Compose-Key e ` => è
    Compose-Key e " => ë
    Compose-Key e ^ => ê
I wonder how this is done on Mac?

  Option-e e => é
  Option-` e => è
  Option-u e => ë
  Option-i e => ê

On Lion and later, it's even easier. Just hold down the e key and you get a list of the various accented versions.

Granted, it doesn't work in the Terminal, or certain other apps that don't use the standard text edit widgets (e.g. MacVim, TextMate), but in those apps you can continue to use the old ⌥e+e trick.

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