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How to find and insert Unicode symbols in HTML


When I started using MacBook, I couldn’t remember how to type the right arrow (→) symbol. I had a very inefficient process. First, I opened the Keyboard settings on my Mac, and then I inspected sources by pressing Shift or Option or other functional keys until I found the character.

An example of three-step action on MacOs for inspecting keyboard symbols: 1. searching for keyboard settings; 2. opening keyboard settings; 3. finding the right arrow character.

Later, I learned that I could type “arrow right alt code” in Google and copy-paste the symbol.

Screenshot of Google search for right arrow alt code.

There are also dedicated sites with a complete list of Unicode characters like the arrow right. I have bookmarked this site. There are other ones, like this one or this one, that are maybe more user-friendly. However, finding the character on these sites isn’t efficient, too.

A few months ago, I started to add snippets in my VS Code. The thing with snippets is that you have to learn them.

Screenshot of right arrow Unicode symbol snippet in VS Code.

But, unfortunately, that also means you could forget them.

Here’s how to configure the snippet in VS Code:

  1. Press Command + Shift + p and type “snippets.”
  2. Select Preferences: Configure User Snippets.
  3. Select Global (or other, if you want file-based snippets).
  4. Add the following code:
{
...
"Arrow right": {
"prefix": "*->",
"body": [
"→"
],
"description": "Inserts arrow right →"
}
}

Recently I found out an even better solution, the Insert Unicode extension for VS Code. This extension allows you to search and insert any Unicode character. To do so, press Command + Shift + p, type “insert unicode,” and select Insert Unicode: Insert command. After that, search for the character, select it, and that’s it!

An example of VS Code extension for inserting Unicode symbol.

Update: It was brought to my attention that macOS has this thing called Character Viewer. This might be the easiest way to insert Unicode. To open Character Viewer, press Command + Control + Space. You could search and insert most of the characters. You could even customize the app for easier usage.