How to create an apostrophe on the Mac keyboard.

macOS and Mac Apps

I recently discovered that the key beside the semicolon is a single quotation mark, not an apostrophe. For texting, it's not a big deal. But for a manuscript or paper, where in I maybe using quotes, the difference is important.
So, does anybody know how to create an apostrophe on the Mac keyboard?
Thanks in advance for any and all answers



Submitted by Siobhan on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hi. The apostrophe is usually used in contracted words, can't won't etc. If you want to do a quote, hold down shift, press the apostrophe. you'll hear quotation mark. It looks like this, if you have vision.

' and " Now if you want to do a double quotation mark, sorry that's out of my league. Hope this might help.

Submitted by Lily M on Saturday, November 12, 2016

First, Fatima, thanks, but I'd spent so much time googling my problem--where I found a number of very visual solutions involving commas, that I think I internalized the wrong punctuation :-), I meant Apostrophe.
And, Siobhan, well first, are you Irish?
Second, and to the point, when I use the key beside the semicolon on line, it appears as an apostrophe--the symbol used in contracted words. But when texting, or in a document, it's a single quotation mark or ‘ which, though I understand they look similar, changes the way it is to be used.
So I am trying to figure out how to create the apostrophe or ', ' in texts and documents.

Submitted by Bryan Jones on Saturday, November 12, 2016

I think you can force the apostrophe key to type a true apostrophe by disabling smart quotes. This can be done on a per-application basis by going to Edit > Substitutions, or it can be applied system-wide via System Preferences > Keyboard > Text.

This assumes macOS 10.12.1 and compliant applications.

Submitted by Siobhan on Saturday, November 12, 2016

Damn you figured it out. ;) Seriously Brian might be right, not to sound dumb, are you talking about a Mac? Because if so, I disabled smart quotes years ago. If you mean on an IOS device, wel I'm ahem, can't say that. :p

Submitted by Lily M on Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bryan, thanks a million. It worked, and now all is right in the world... well, in the world of punctuation, anyway.
LOL, yes, I was talking about a Mac.
Thanks to you both.
I;d love it if I could just keep the two of you in my pocket to pull out whenever I have pressing Mac punctuation questions:)

Enjoy the rest of the weekend

Submitted by Siobhan on Sunday, November 13, 2016

Just leave some air for me would you? ;) I forgot about smart quotes, I think I turned those off, I can't remember though. Glad you got it fixed.

Submitted by dvdmth on Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Club AppleVis Member

In braille, an apostrophe looks completely different from a single quotation mark. An apostrophe is dot 3, while a single quote is dot 6 followed by an opening or closing quote symbol (at least in UEB).

In print, an apostrophe looks identical to a closing single quotation mark. It is not just similar, but rather, it is exactly the same. This is why you use the same key on the keyboard to type both apostrophes and single quotes.

A standard quotation mark, or double quote, looks visually like two single quotes next to each other. Again, this is completely different from braille. I have actually run into instances where someone decided to type two apostrophes for a double quote instead of the normal quotation mark symbol.

When you select the option to use smart quotes, you are simply choosing between two different visual styles for quotation marks. This setting impacts double quotes as well as single quotes, and thus apostrophes.

In print, quotation marks are either straight or curly. If they are straight, the lines that make the quotes and apostrophes go straight up and down. In this style, opening quotes and closing quotes are identical, with no way of distinguishing between the two. An opening double quote looks just like a closing double quote, and an opening single quote looks just like a closing single quote, which both look just like an apostrophe.

With curly quotes, or smart quotes, each quotation mark is curled in one direction or the other. In this style, opening quotes are curled in one direction, while closing quotes are curled in the other direction. Apostrophes are curled the same way that a closing single quote is curled. So, an opening double quote looks different from a closing double quote, while an opening single quote looks different from a closing single quote, but an apostrophe still looks identical to a closing single quote.

In the days of typewriters, there was no way to type curly quotes. Only straight quotes were possible, so there was just one key for both opening and closing quotes, as well as apostrophes. In the early days of computers, when the ASCII character standard was in use, there were only straight quotes as well. Over time, newer formats for encoding text were introduced, including Unicode, which is used today. These newer formats include both straight quotes and curly quotes, allowing the user to type both styles of quotes as desired. To support this, the option to use smart quotes was added to the system. If enabled, the computer will substitute the appropriate curly quote whenever you type a double quote, single quote, or apostrophe. If disabled, the old-fashioned straight quote is used instead.

I hope this all makes sense. The bottom line is that it does not actually matter whether you choose to use smart quotes or not. Smart quotes are prettier, but they don't change the meaning at all. And whenever VoiceOver announces a character as a single quotation mark, you can treat it as an apostrophe, since in reality they are exactly the same thing in print.

Submitted by Ekaj on Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I had no idea there was even a difference. I have gotten both Apostrophe and the single quotation mark thing upon typing that key on my MacBook. I've also seen the setting that toggles smart quotations on/off but never paid any attention to it since after all I only have light perception. So thanks for enlightening me about this. I am fluent in grades 1 and 2 Braille, and apostrophes certainly are different from quotation marks.

Submitted by Lily M on Saturday, November 19, 2016

That was quite a bit of information. But I appreciate it. I just googled the single quote and apostrophe, and from my understanding, they looked similar but did have some slight visual difference.
The single quote is the same in UEB and whatever the previous Braille code was called. Well, it's dot 6 open quote, and dot 3 closing quotation in the old system (haven't really examined the new rules/changes in UEB).
Oh! It makes sense now!!! There have been instances where apostrophes have been used in the stead of single quotes when reading braille documents.

Well thanks guys. Both for the solution, and the education on print quotes :-)

Also, I was mainly focused on this because when I read some of my Pages documents on the Braillenote, they weren't always apostrophes when they were supposed to be. And it frustrated me

Submitted by Michael Wheeler (not verified) on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A true apostrophe on a mac is made with SHIFT/OPTION and right bracket. OPTION and left bracket gives you open quotes (upside down). SHIFT/OPTION and left bracket gives you close quotes. I've been using them for 20 years. Oh, and while I'm here, no matter what anyone says, there is no double space after a period. :-) Real typesetting used only one space, although typing class would teach you it's two. Cheers!