Free Macron Writing/Typing Program for Windows and Linux… See Below
When you’re learning Latin, there’s good reason to use macrons; lines above vowels that indicate that the vowel is long. Macrons are useful for learning pronunciation and for telling certain words apart that are otherwise spelled the same. Romans did not use macrons, so you won’t see them in the works of ancient Romans, but macrons serve as a sort of training wheel for Latin learners. Some teachers require students to use them; some don’t. Personally, I think you should use them when you are starting out.
Unfortunately, typing them into a computer is not an easy task. Unicode, which is the text encoding that modern computers use, contains characters from many languages and includes vowels with macrons. So there’s no problem on the computer’s end. The problem is that macrons are not located on the keyboard. There are some key combinations that you can use to type them, and some programs to help you cut and paste, but both of those methods are pretty cumbersome.
The good news is that I’ve come up with two ways to automate the process for you. The first will work in Linux, and the second will work in Windows. If you’re a Mac user, I can offer you a suggestion that might work. With my methods, when you want to type the letter ‘o’ with a macron over it, you’ll just type ‘o’ and ‘-’ and it will automatically be converted to ‘ō’. If you really did want an ‘o’ with a ‘-’ after it, there’s a way to get that too.
For windows, there is an excellent application called autohotkey that can replace text strings just as you see in the video at the top of this post. Rather than walk you through installing and configuring autohotkey and writing a script that will do what you want, I’ll just provide you with a program I made for free!
MacronMaker is a program I created to help you easily type macrons in Windows. MacronMaker is a tiny utility that sits in your application tray and waits until you type in something such as a-, A-, o-, E-, or any vowel followed by a dash except y. Then it swiftly replaces what you’ve typed with ā, Ā, ō, Ē, or any other vowel with a macron (except y). You can see it in action in the video at the top of the post. If you want to type a vowel with a hyphen after it, and you don’t want a macron, just type the vowel followed by a period and a hyphen (.-). MacronMaker will replace the period-hyphen with a regular hyphen.
- To get a vowel with a macron:
- Type the vowel followed by a hyphen
- To get a vowel followed by a hyphen:
- Type the vowel, a period, and a hyphen
If you want to stop Macron Maker from making replacements, you can either stop running it, or right-click on the tray icon and choose ‘Pause Script’.
I am offering Macron Maker free of charge in exchange for joining my email list for Latin learners. I will not send you many emails and you are free to unsubscribe. I just want to see how the program works for you and find out what else I can do to help you learn the language.
To get the same functionality in Linux, the program you want is called AutoKey. It automatically translates key sequences that you type into any application into any text that you supply. AutoKey has many other possibilities and is highly configurable. I’ll just show you how to use it for macrons. Here’s what you have to do.
- Install and start Autokey (since you’re a Linux user, I’ll assume you can find and install software for your distribution). Ubuntu users can type: sudo apt-get install autokey
- Start Autokey
- Right-click a folder in the left-hand pane and choose ‘New Folder’
- Name the new folder ‘Macrons’
- Now we will create phrases in the Macrons folder. Just right-click the Macrons folder and choose New Phrase
- Create a phrase for each vowel in both lower-case and upper-case form.
- Name these phrases a-macron, A-Macron, e-macron, E-macron, etc.
- Click on each phrase and paste the character you want into the large text box in the right-hand panel.
- To get the macron characters you can just copy/paste from Wikipedia’s macron article.
- Click on the ‘Set’ button next to ‘Abbreviation’.
- enter a-, A-, e-, E-, etc. according to which macron it will make.
- Check the box next to:
- Remove typed abbreviation
- Trigger when typed a part of a word
- Trigger immediately (don’t require a trigger character)
- Hit OK
- Hit ‘Save’ after each phrase is configured
Now test it out. Whenever Autokey is running, it will replace those abbrevietions with the macrons you pasted into the window. If you don’t want a replacement, hit the backspace key and it will un-do it. If you don’t want any replacements to be made, quit autokey, or right-click on the autokey tray icon and un-click ‘Enable Expansions’.
If you use a Mac, then you probaby won’t be able to use either of the above approaches. My advice to you would be to look into an application called Typinator that does something similar to what AutoKey for Linux does.
Ā ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū