Banishing the Dreaded É

Computer MonsterIf you live and write in Canada, and you use a PC, you have probably come across the dreaded É syndrome. That’s when you go to type a question mark, and instead of ‘?’, you see ‘É’.

Then you quickly find out that other keys (most notably your quote keys) are screwed up too.

I used to have to shut down all twenty windows I was working with, close the other programs I had open, save all my notes and reboot my computer. (BIG pain, since it inevitably decided it had to install fifty updates before it came back online.)

And it always, ALWAYS happened on a Deadline day.

As the Jacques-Cousteau-mimicking announcer says in Spongebob Squarepants, “Theurty mineets lateuuur” (…or should I say, ÉTheurty mineets lateuuurÉ)

How to Fix It

What’s happening here, I think, is that you’ve hit CTRL +Shift together and accidentally enabled the French-Canadian keyboard.

(Either that or your computer is Possessed).

Ready for the Big Fix? Here it is…

  • Simply press CTRL and, while holding it down, hit the Shift key. Your Anglo keyboard should be back.

Try it right now. Toggle CTRL+Shift on and off to flip backwards and forwards between the two versions.

But What if it Doesn’t Work?

Of course, since we’re talking about computers here, the same fix will not work on all machines. My system is a Dell laptop with 64-bit Windows 10. Others have reported the following fixes:

  • SHIFT+4
  • SHIFT+6
  • FN

The key point to remember is that this is usually a toggle problem if it occurs out of the blue, in the middle of a document — you’ve accidentally touched the specific key combo that toggles it on, and you need to repeat that combo to toggle it off again.

Hope one of these suggested keys or key combos works for you!