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How to Disable the Character Accent Menu in OS X Mountain Lion

Posted by Jim Tanous on May 28, 2013
Disable Accent Menu OS X Mountain Lion

A handy new feature in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is the character accent pop-up menu. Users with English keyboards who frequently type in accent-heavy foreign languages will likely love the new feature, which allows a user to bring up common accents for each character simply by holding the key for the letter you wish to accent.
Disable Accent Menu OS X Mountain Lion
For example, in the screenshot above, we’re trying to spell the world “touché” properly with an acute accent. We typed the word normally until we reached the “e.” Instead of simply tapping the “e” key on the keyboard, we held it down until the new accent menu popped up. Once visible, users can select the desired accent either by clicking on it with the mouse or pressing the number key on the keyboard that corresponds to the number below each accent.
But what if you need to type a line of repeated characters? Pre-Mountain Lion, holding down the “e” key (or any other character) would create an indefinite output of repeating “e” characters. Now, holding down the key brings up the accent menu. Thankfully, a Terminal command command comes to the rescue.
To disable the character accent menu in OS X, launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities, enter the following command and press Return:

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

Now, log out of your user account and then log back in for the change to take effect. Head over to your word processing or text app and try to hold down a key. You’ll now notice that the accent menu does not appear and that your character repeats, just as it did in older versions of OS X.
Disable Accent Menu OS X Mountain Lion
If you decide that you prefer the default behavior of the accent menu, use Terminal to enter the following command, press Return, and then log out and back in:

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool true

With this handy Terminal command, users are no longer restricted by Apple’s well-meaning attempts to improve typing. Those without the need to frequently use accented characters can return to the practice of repeating characters to their hearts’ content.

16 thoughts on “How to Disable the Character Accent Menu in OS X Mountain Lion”

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Brett Ryan says:
This solution doesn’t seem to be working with 10.11.4
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Chryst says:
Same here in Yosemite. Have you found a solution in the meantime? Thanks!
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Rob Wise says:
Worked great for me, thank you!
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Victoria Dunmesswithme says:
Great job! It works! Thanks a million!
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Slam says:
This is yet another feature that is the result of Mac OS X “iOS-ification”.
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vichug says:
It does not effing work on Yosemite !!!!! Driving me maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad
edit : now it works… i don’t know why, maybe because i used it with sudo previously
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coyr says:
Thank you. Do you know how turn off the shortcut Option + E in Yosemite? It create an accent before type a vocal.
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Andy Brice says:
Thank you!!
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bompf says:
For some reason, I had to remove the -g flag in order to get it working on Yosemite.
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James says:
This feature wasn’t really needed. There was a way to input accented characters that was faster than this before it. I hate how apple (and microsoft) are trying to unite their mobile and computer UIs.
(to get é you can type alt+e then e.) Now they’re starting to back port features and it’s scaring me. This is now a thing on Lion.
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dudeYouKidding? says:
Speak for yourself, for translators like me, that feature is a life saver.
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Slam says:
This kind of feature should be disabled by default, since the majority of people are presumed to know their keyboard’s layout, but let the user enable the feature if desired, somewhere in the System Settings.
Radam Rolson says:
For what it’s worth in the preference pane go under keyboard and then the first tab “Keyboard” and change “Delay Until Repeat” to Long and a lot of the annoyance of it popping up goes away. For me I found that TextExpander was slowing things down so I would type the same letter several times and then it would set off the charters frequently which was a drag. Might help if you like the feature just not how fast it pops up.
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Brandy Alexander says:
This didn’t work for me. I copied, pasted in terminal and pressed RETURN, logged out, logged back in and the keys still pop up that stupid menu instead of repeating the characters. I wish there was a more efficient way to disable this, I don’t need these extra characters.
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kat says:
Hey! Might anyone know how to achieve the opposite effect, using Terminal to REactivate one’s accent menu that has mysteriously and suddenly disappeared?
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TekRevue says:
Does the second Terminal command (defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool true) not work for you?
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JoeUSA says:
FYI: You can disable this annoyance in OS X Mavericks easily with an application called TinkerTool v 5.2. Get it here:
http://www.bresink.com/osx/TinkerTool.html
Run TinkerTool, click on the general tab, in the keyboard section at the top click on the “Support Key Repeat” option, close the app and log out of your OS X user account. Log back in and you now have key repeat when you hold a character down. 🙂 Why Apple didn’t put this option in System Preferences/Keyboard is beyond me, are you listening Apple??
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uberfu says:
Really ?
The ONLY way to disable this is from the command line ?
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TekRevue says:
As far as I know, yes. But don’t worry, the command line is easy to use in OS X. Just copy and paste the commands in the article using the Terminal app.
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uberfu says:
So not the point. I’ve been dealing w/ Unix evironments for a long time and Macs even longer.
Point was >> something like this should be accessible in “Language & Text” or “Accessibility” areas of the Sys Prefs.
It shouldn’t be turned on by default on an American English default installs. Becasue the Defaults Write Commands are not geared for standard Users.
TekRevue says:
Okay then. Thanks for your input.
Namespolicy Isfornazis says:
I agree uberfu. This change to a universal keyboard behavior to support an oddball feature like character accents very few people will ever use is ridiculous. At the very least the option to disable this “feature” should be included right on the keyboard settings, and it should default to “off”.
dudeYouKidding? says:
“very few” – ?! Dude, you kidding?
Nicolas B. says:
And I have to log out and log in for key repeating to work again ?! Grr.
For me, it just stopped working, in Mavericks.
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Nicolas B. says:
Good news ! For the command trick to work in an open application, relaunching the application is enough.
David Powell says:
Get Secrets preference pane – more comprehensive than tinkertool, better than command line. Open Source project Pretty slick.
http://secrets.blacktree.com
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