There is an option key on the Macintosh keyboard. Much like the multiple shifting keys of ages long past (such as the super, hyper, and front keys on the space-cadet keyboard), the option key provides access to extra characters not available on the usual keyboard.

If you are using a font that supports the full Macintosh character set, you can use key combinations with this key to generate accented letters, other non-English letters (such as the German sharp-S, or the oe and ae ligatures), and a small range of other symbols: smart quotes and European quotes, dagger and double dagger signs, and a few mathematical symbols.

Under Mac OS X, the range of typable characters is greatly expanded through the Extended Roman and Unicode input modes.