Utilized on IBM-compatible and Windows computers, Alt codes are keyboard combinations used to produce special characters. They work by pressing and holding an Alt key, and then typing a sequence of numbers on the numeric keypad. For example, pressing Alt+160 could create an accented letter.
In this example, the Alt code creates an "a" with an accent (á) in all programs that allow text to be typed. An Alt code is written as "Alt+number" (e.g., Alt+160), which indicates holding down Alt, and while continuing to hold it down, press 1, 6, and then 0 on the keypad.
The code page 437 includes a large list of available Alt codes and their associated glyphs.
What is the number in an Alt code?
The number in an Alt code is the decimal value of the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) character you want to create. For example, a capital "A" has a decimal value of 65. Knowing the decimal value lets you surmise that the Alt code for this character is Alt+65. See our ASCII page to get the decimal values of all characters.
Nothing happens when entering an Alt code
If nothing appears when entering an Alt code, you're most likely using the number keys in the row above the alphabet keys and not on the numeric keypad. If your computer keyboard doesn't have a keypad, you cannot enter Alt codes.
On desktop and laptop computers, press the Num Lock key to enable and disable the numeric keypad.
The Alt code creates a different character
When entering an Alt code, your computer may return a character you didn't expect. The different character could be caused by any of the following reasons.
- The Alt code number was not entered correctly.
- The Alt code begins with a 0, and it was not entered. For example, the German Eszett character is created with the Alt code Alt+0223. If the zero is not entered, a different character appears.
- Num Lock is not turned on.
- That specific Alt key may not be working; try using the other one on the keyboard.
- The computer's operating system or program uses a different code page.