Accent Composer FAQs

Nothing happens when I press the compose key

Q. When I press the compose key and type a compose sequence, such as ' and A, nothing happens.

A. There are a few things you can check:

  • Make sure the program is actually running (a red Á should appear in the system tray in the lower right corner).
  • Make sure you are pressing the correct compose key (double click on the Á icon to see what it is currently set at; it's the right hand Alt key by default).
  • Make sure you are pressing and releasing the compose key before typing the two characters of the compose sequence; do not hold the key down.
  • Some program use different methods to recognize that keys have been pressed. StarOffice/OpenOffice and Adobe InDesign in particular do this. If AC doesn't work in these then open the Options dialog (double click on the red Á icon) and click on the Advanced Options button. In the resulting dialog box choose the "None" option in the "Choose Fake Keystroke" section and press OK. If that doesn't work try one of the other options. Press the Help button on the dialog for more details.
  • new style Windows Store apps
    Please note that under Windows 8 and 10 Accent Composer currently doesn't work within new style Windows Store apps (those built in as tiles on the Start screen or downloaded from the Windows Store). It works OK with Desktop programs and standard third-party Windows programs.

Not working at system startup, but works OK if started later

Q. Accent Composer doesn't work (the icon doesn't turn green) when the program is automatically loaded when Windows starts, but if I start it later manually it works fine.

A. Sometimes, if other programs are running that also monitor the keyboard, these programs can block Accent Composer's access to the keyboard, so that AC doesn't work. However, when you start it manually later Accent Composer will be the first program to have access to the keyboard and thus works OK. We've added an option that causes AC to wait for a while before it starts monitoring the keyboard, thus ensuring that it is the first program to see the keystrokes.

Options dialogTo access it, open the Options dialog (double click on the red Á icon), and click on the Advanced Options button. On the resulting dialog box set the required number of seconds in the "Delay hooking keyboard" option (try 10 seconds first, then increase if required) and press OK. Press the Help button on the dialog for more details. Next time you restart AC the icon will appear straight away as normal, but it will be black and won't react to anything for the set number of seconds, after which it will change the the usual red colour.

The wrong character appears

Q. When I type a compose sequence for certain characters (for example, the copyright symbol ©) I instead get a different character (e.g. ó). What's wrong?

A. The characters produced by Accent Composer rely on the particular font in use in your word processor or other program. When you press a compose sequence, Accent Composer tells the word processor "put in the character that is at position 0169 in the table of characters for this font". Most fonts will have the copyright symbol at that position, but some will not. If you are using one of these other fonts, then the wrong character will appear.

To check to make sure that Accent Composer is set up to match your font, go to the Options dialog (double click on the icon) and make sure that the font list in the "Font" box is the same as the one used in your word processor. Then scroll through the list to make sure the characters and compose sequences match. If they do not you can modify the sequences to match.

Note, however, that modifying the sequences may mean that they will not match up with most other fonts.

Another problem could be that the program you are typing into does not support Unicode. If this is the case it may work when you do some of the common accented characters, like á and ë, but not with some of the more unusual ones. With these, you might instead get a "?", a rectangular box, or an unaccented letter.

You can check if this is the problem by opening the Windows Character Map application (it can be found in the Accessories|System Tools section of the Start menu), clicking on the character that didn't work with Accent Composer, pressing the Select button, then the Copy button. Then go to your program and paste the character with Edit|Paste. If you get the same result as when you used Accent Composer then the problem is that the program does not support Unicode. If this is the case check with the producers of the program to see if there is a newer, Unicode enabled, version.

Can it produce more than one character?

Q. Can Accent Composer be used to enter more than a single character? I'd like to assign a compose sequence to automatically type in my full name and address.

A. Yes! This is one of the new features of version 2. To add a new text snippet open the Options dialog box and press the Customize Compose Sequences button. Next press the "Add text" button and type your text into the resulting box, then press OK. Your text will be entered into the grid in the Customize dialog box, where you will have a chance to type in the two-letter compose sequence.

Can it produce superscripts other than 1, 2 and 3 (or subscripts or other mathematical symbols)?

Q. Can it produce superscripts other than 1, 2 and 3 (or subscripts or other mathematical symbols)?

A. If you are using a font that has more superscripts or other symbols (such as Arial MS Unicode that comes with MS Office) then you can add sequences for these. By default Accent Composer only has sequences for characters that are in the standard Arial and Times New Roman fonts and these do not have further superscripts.

The windows do strange things when I press the compose key

Q. Something strange happens in one of my programs when I use Accent Composer to enter an accented character. The focus switches away from the window into which I'm typing. (Another program, the Delphi programming editor, opens a second edit window when the character is entered).

A. This is a result of the way in which Accent Composer inserts characters into other applications. There is an option that can be changed that will cure this, but it may have other unwanted effects on other programs, most notably Excel. It should be changed only if there are problems. You can change it by going to the Advanced Option dialog box and changing the "Fake Keystroke" option to "Shift Key".

Two characters are inserted, not one

Q. I'm running Microsoft Works for Windows 3 (a 16-bit program). Whenever I try to enter an accented character with Accent Composer, two characters of the compose sequence are inserted into the Works document as well as the accented character (e.g., 'aá appears rather than just á). How do I fix this?

A. This only seems to happen if the compose key is the right Control key; it does not happen with other ones. To fix this you can try using another compose key. Alternatively, there is an option to insert a small delay while Accent Composer is handling the keystrokes. This fixes the problem but slows down the entry of accented characters by a small but noticeable amount. You can change it by going to the Advanced Option dialog box and ticking the "Delay key processing" option.

Removing Accent Composer from my computer

Q. I've tried deleting Accent Composer from my computer but it still keeps loading at boot-up.

A. You need to fully uninstall the program. This removes all the program files. It is best if you first close down Accent Composer (right click on the red Á icon in the lower right of the screen, then choose "Close" from the menu). Then click on the "Uninstall Accent Composer" entry under Start Menu|Programs|Accent Composer. You can also click the "Add/Remove Programs" icon on the Control Panel, selecting "Accent Composer" from the list, and clicking the "Add/Remove" button.

In some cases we've seen where people use a separately bought utility like Uninstall to monitor adding and removing programs, it doesn't always manage to remove Accent Composer (probably because Accent Composer was running at the time). In these cases you can manually remove Accent Composer this way: First make sure you have closed down Accent Composer (see previous paragraph) so the red Á isn't displayed in the system tray. After this, delete the directory containing the Accent Composer program (by default this is a folder called "Accent Composer", under your usual "Program Files" folder). That contains all the files related to Accent Composer and will stop the introductory screen.

I get an "Action canceled!" error when trying to view the help file

Q. When I try to view the help file I get a message saying "Action canceled! Internet Explorer was unable to link to the web page you requested". How can I get it to work?

A. This is caused by a security update released by Microsoft. Basically, this stops compiled HTML help files from being displayed if they are run from the Internet or over a network. Help files installed on your local hard disk will still work OK.

If you run Accent Composer once with administrator privilages then this should fix the problem. If not then you can fix this by having the administrator of your computer make some changes to the Windows registry. The changes to be made are described at the Microsoft Knowledge base, article 896358. There is also a free utility called HHReg that automates the process.