Best Practice Ezine #40 Alt Gr . + New Home Page

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Best Practice Ezine #40 Alt Gr  + New Home Page

It’s a while since I have had one of my Litmus Tests. You may remember that Guy’s Litmus Test is an instant method which tells if you are dealing with an amateur or a professional.  Traditionally Guy’s Litmus Tests are applied to computing but they are also invaluable in everyday life.  This week’s test is: Do you know what Alt Gr is?

Amateurs do not realize that their keyboard has an Alt Gr key.

Professionals not only realize that there are two Alt Keys but also they know that each has a different function.  The plain Alt key operates a program’s menu items, while Alt Gr is for continental writers who want accented letters.

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Urban Myth Alt Gr means Alternative Grave

Update and corrections supplied by Grant Semmens

I am Welsh.  Our language, Cymraeg, has the occasional hat on top of a letter, for example my sister is called Siân.  Now English is one of the few European languages without graves or accents; so it is likely that England is where the urban myth that Alt Gr means Alternative Grave originated.  As Celts, we Welsh are aware that our continental cousins use these extra letters, for example é or à.  My point is that if you need an accented vowel, then either, you need to add letters from the Symbols font – cumbersome, or alternatively, remember that alt 144 means É.  Note this time I mean the left, plain, Alt key and not the right Alt Gr (Confusing isn’t it!)

From my cousins across the pond in America, I hear that Spanish is big in some neibourhoods so presumably Spanish Americans occasionally employ accented letters.

So in a nutshell, the Alternative Grave myth is wrong.  To prove it, go to the keyboard, hold down the right hand Alt Gr and type a vowel.  Result á é.  These characters are actually the acute form of the letter. The grave has the accent sloping the other way à è.


Alt is indeed an abbreviation of Alternative, however ‘Gr’ may well stand for Graphics in the sense of special characters such as á é.  Grant has convinced me that Gr has nothing to do with grave as that accent slopes the other way.  Incidentally, Alt Gr only appears on English, English keyboards, and seems absent on American English keyboards.

Further Research

If you are interested in Diacritics, as these strange symbols are called, navigate this path: Start, Programs,  Accessories, System Tools has a Character map.  Well worth a visit should you wish to check the precise alt + number value of any symbol, not just the graves.  For example â is alt + 0226 (Num Lock on and press the numeric keyboard)

See Windows 8 Touch Keyboards »

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Stunning simple idea for your home page.

Update:  only half the following is now relevant.  I now recommend Google’s personalized home page http: //

I have a simple but wonderful time saving tip.  The concept is to make your default home page full of YOUR favorite web links.  It’s a long time since such a straightforward idea has given me so much pleasure.

I previously set my home page to Google, and spend lots of time clicking, my ‘Favorites’ menu.  Now I have all those links on my home page.  Needless to say I also like the MMC, and I like to run my computer the way Houston Space Center runs ‘Mission Control’.

As ever, Guy’s mantra is ‘Getting you started’. So, here is the custom home page idea.

  1. Open your Internet Explorer, then select File (Menu) Import and Export. 
  2. Follow the wizard and export the bookmark.htm file.
  3. Tip choose a place where you can easily find it e.g. C: \ logs\bookmark.htm. 
  4. Once the wizard creates the bookmark.htm, it is a relatively trivial job to set the home page.
  5. Navigate as usual to the Internet Explorer, Tools, Internet Options, Home Page Address, type C: \logs\bookmark.htm.  Note this only works if this is where you saved bookmark.htm!  My only complaint is there is no browse button here, and that is why I save bookmark.htm into an easy to locate folder.


If you are even a minor expert in html then you can extend this tip by customising the page layout.  For example, I create 3 columns in my bookmark.htm, then copy and paste the links to the appropriate column.

See more interesting Windows desktop tips

 • Windows 8 Explorer  • Ezines  •E 201 AutoHotKey  •Activate Administrator Win 8

E 127 Basics  •E 126 LCD  •E 109 Office  •IP Address Tracker

E 113 Notification  •E 78 Home Drive  •E 40 Alt Gr  •E 35 Colour Folder  •Wake-on-Lan