How to type umlaut äëïöü in Microsoft Word and Office

Once you know the ‘secret’ shortcut, it’s easy to type the umlaut vowels ä ë ï ö ü Ä Ë Ï Ö Ü in Word and Outlook but, alas, it’s not the same in Excel or PowerPoint. There are alternatives in Windows and Mac if you’re not using Word. 

Umlauts are important because they’re not just a guide to pronunciation.  Sometimes adding an umlaut alters the whole meaning of the word.   

Plenty of languages use umlauts. In Deutsch/German Ä, Ö, and Ü are used.  French have them too in words like naïve. Also in Finnish, Estonian, Turkish and others. 

Word Autocorrect to add umlaut

Speaking of ‘naïve’ that’s an example of a word autocorrected to add an umlaut in Word’s default English AutoCorrect list.  Type ‘naive’ and Word will add the umlaut automatically. 

Word shortcut for umlaut

In Microsoft Word or Outlook for Windows, the shortcut is  Ctrl + Shift +  : (hold down Ctrl and Shift then type the colon key).  After that press the vowel key you want and, presto, the letter appears with an umlaut. 

Umlaut shortcut on Mac computers

It’s a lot easier on a Mac computer because there’s a shortcut that works in all apps. It’s a global macOS shortcut. 

Press Option + U (U for umlaut, geddit?) then the letter you want. 

Typing Option + U makes an umlaut appear in the document, typing another letter adds the umlaut if there’s an umlauted letter available. 

What about Excel and PowerPoint?

If you thought the same Ctrl + Shift + : trick would work in Windows versions of Excel or PowerPoint, you’re in for a disappointment.  Consistency across the Office apps is something Microsoft talks about but doesn’t manage too well. 

In Excel,  Ctrl + Shift + : inserts the current time as a string (not the Time() or Now()  functions). 

PowerPoint totally ignores the Word umlaut shortcut.  

Windows Emoji Panel

The Emoji Panel in Windows 10/11 has the umlaut and other accented characters buried deep.  Win + . opens the Emoji Panel, then Symbols and scroll down to Latin Symbols. 

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