Geeks in Phoenix

Geek Blog


Using special font characters in Windows with Character Map

Updated October 23, 2022

Have you ever wanted to insert a letter or symbol into a Windows document that you could not find on your keyboard? Maybe a copyright, trademark, or tolerance symbol? You can do just that and more with Windows built-in Character Map.

Believe it or not, but Windows fonts can have more characters than your keyboard has keys. Most Windows fonts do have more characters than your keyboard can create. And that doesn't even include the unique font characters you can create with Private Character Editor. So how do you access and insert these characters? By using Character Map.

Character Map inside of Windows 11
Character Map inside of Windows 11

Character Map is one of those hidden gems inside Windows, that once you find it, you wonder how you lived without it. I remember first using Character Map inside Windows 3.1 and was amazed at what font characters I could insert into a Microsoft Word document. And the cool thing is you can add them to almost any Windows program (HTML editors excluded).

Character Map inside of Windows 3.11
Character Map inside of Windows 3.11

How to start up Character Map

You can start Character Map in two different ways: Windows built-in shortcut or from the Run dialog box.

Character Map in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start menu
  2. Left-click on All Apps
  3. Scroll down and left-click on Windows Tools
  4. Left-click on Character Map

Character Map in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start menu
  2. Left-click on All Apps
  3. Scroll down and left-click on Windows Accessories to expand it
  4. Left-click on Character Map

Character map in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

  1. Swipe in from the right side of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charm bar
  2. Left-click on Search button in Charm Bar.
  3. Left-click on Apps in Search.
  4. Type Character Map in the Search field on the Search pane
  5. In the results on the left-hand side, left-click on Character Map.

Character Map in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

  1. Left-click on the Start menu
  2. Left-click on All Programs
  3. Scroll down and left-click on Accessories to expand it
  4. Left-click on System Tools to expand it
  5. Left-click on Character Map

Using the Run dialog box to start Character Map

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

In the Run dialog box that appears, type charmap and select OK.

How to insert a special character into a document

  1. Left-click the Font pull-down menu and left-click the name of the font you want to use.
  2. Left-click on the special character you want to insert into the document.
  3. Left-click Select and then left-click Copy.
  4. Open/switch to your document and left-click the location in the document where you want the special character to appear.
  5. Left-click the program's Edit menu or right-click the location where you want the character to appear and select Paste.
  • Many programs allow you to drag and drop special characters into documents. To do this, click the character you want to copy. When the character appears enlarged, drag and drop it into the open document.
  • If you do not delete previously copied characters in the Characters to copy box, they are copied along with any new characters you select.
  • If a private character does not appear correctly in a document, select the character in the document, and change its font to match the font you chose in Character Map.

Create your own Windows font character with Private Character Editor

Updated October 23, 2022

Do you have a company logo or a simple graphic that you would like to use often in a Windows program, like Microsoft Word or Excel? Maybe your line of work has special characters you would like to use but cannot find inside any of the installed Windows fonts? If so, you may want to create your own with Private Character Editor.

Using Private Character Editor (PCE), you can create up to 6,400 unique characters (such as special letters and logos) for use in your font library. PCE contains essential tools (pencil, brush, line, rectangle, and circle) for creating and editing characters and more advanced options.

The Private Character Editor inside of Windows 11
The Private Character Editor inside of Windows 11

There are some pros and cons to creating your characters. Pro: you can insert your unique character into any text line and change its size and color. Con: your special character can only be one color (font color) and is low-resolution. If you're looking for multiple colors and high resolution, you need to use a graphic instead. But if you are looking for a way to insert a single-color logo or unique character into a text line, this might be the answer.

My custom Windows logo character inserted into a WordPad document
My custom Windows logo character inserted into a WordPad document

Now starting PCE can be kind of hard the first time since there is no shortcut to the program. But once you know where it is and how to start it, you're ready to rock and roll. The program name for PCE is eudcedit.exe, and it's located in the Windows\system32 directory. The easiest way to start it up is by using the Run dialog box.

How to open the Run dialog box

All versions of Windows:
On the keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10:
Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run

For all of the ways to open a Run dialog box, check out How to get to and use the Run dialog box in Windows.

In the Run dialog box that appears, type eudcedit and select OK.

Things to keep in mind when creating special characters using Private Character Editor.

  • You can choose to link your private characters to all the fonts in your font library (so that any font you've selected can display your private characters). Or you can choose to link your private characters only to specific fonts (so that only the specified font can show your private characters).
  • Using the Select Code dialog box, you can view your entire set of private characters. The Select Code dialog box displays miniature views of all your private characters with their corresponding hexadecimal values.
  • If you want to create a new private character using an existing character as your model, you can copy the current character to the Edit grid and then modify it to suit your needs. Or you can display the existing character in a Reference window alongside your Edit grid for use as a visual reference. You can use any character from any font that is installed on your computer.
  • By default, PCE creates characters using the Unicode character set. If you have installed one of the Asian input languages (such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean), you can also use PCE with the Windows character set.

Once you have created your unique character, you will need to use the Character Map application to copy it to the clipboard, so you can paste it into your Windows program (see video below). You will first need to open the Character Map using one of the ways listed in the following article.

Using special font characters in Windows with Character Map

Once you have Character Map open, you will find your custom character at the top of the Font list under All Fonts (Private Characters).
List of Private Characters inside of Character Map
Insert your custom character as you would any other one.

  1. Left-click the Font pull-down menu and select All Fonts (Private Characters).
  2. Left-click on the special character you want to insert into the document.
  3. Left-click Select and then left-click Copy.
  4. Open/switch to your document and left-click the location in the document where you want the special character to appear.
  5. Left-click the program's Edit menu or right-click the location where you want the character to appear and select Paste.

Use the Character Map program to insert your special character
Once your unique character is inserted, you can change its format (color, size, bold, italic, etc.) any way you like.

Troubleshooting Windows Update problems

Updated November 3, 2022

When it comes to repairing Windows computers, there are a couple of problems that I get a lot of help requests. One of them is when a computer cannot get updates to Windows. So here are a few of my favorite resources for fixing Windows Update.

Troubleshooting Windows Update problems

There are several reasons why Windows Update can fail. There could be corrupted files or folders; the different services that Windows Update requires are not starting, registry errors, etc. The following is a list of some procedures I use to repair Windows Update.

Remember to always restart your computer after running any of these procedures before trying Windows Update again.

Windows Update Troubleshooter

Windows 10 and Windows 11 have several troubleshooters built-in, including one for Windows Update. All of the Troubleshooters are located in Windows Settings. There are a few different ways to get to Windows Settings.

How to access the Windows Update troubleshooter in Windows 11

You can find all of the troubleshooters for Windows 11 in the Settings app. To get to the Settings app, do one of the following:

  • Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu and left-click on Settings (the gear icon)
  • Right-click on the Start Windows logo menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo + X and select Settings from the Power User menu
  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + I

The Settings app should open with System highlighted in the left-hand column. In the right-hand column, select Troubleshoot, Other troubleshooters, then left-click on the Run button on the right-hand side of Windows Update.

How to access the Windows Update troubleshooter in Windows 10

You can find all of the troubleshooters for Windows 10 in the Settings app. To get to the Settings app, do one of the following:

  • Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu and left-click on Settings (the gear icon)
  • Right-click on the Start Windows logo menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo + X and select Settings from the Power User menu
  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + I

Once you open Windows Settings, select Update and Security, then Troubleshoot in the left-hand column. In the right-hand column, select Additional troubleshooters, then select Windows Update in the right-hand column.

So if the Windows Update Troubleshooter (repair) did not fix the issue, you could attempt to reset the components that Windows Update uses. The following link gives complete instructions on how to manually reset the Windows Update components, plus some additional resources.

Reset Windows Update components

There is another way to reset the Windows Update components. The Reset Windows Update Tool is s script-based application that performs the same functions as the script above. Along with resetting Windows Update components, it can run Secure File Checker (see below), repair invalid registry keys, and repair the Windows system image using DISM (see below).

Reset Windows Update Tool

Check your drive for errors

If you have run the Windows Update troubleshooters (repair/reset) and Windows Update is still not functioning correctly, it's time to do some general system checks. Sometimes there can be an error(s) with the file system that does not allow the troubleshooters to fix the issue(s). I have had this problem many times before. Nothing worse than feeling like a dog chasing his tail. At this point, check your drive for errors by running checkdisk.

Check your drive for errors in Windows 11

Check your drive for errors in Windows 10

Check your drive for errors in Windows 8

Check your drive for errors in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

Once you are done with a checkdisk, go ahead and rerun the Windows Update troubleshooter. First, run the repair troubleshooter and try checking for updates. If it doesn't fix it, run the reset troubleshooter. If Windows Update still won't work, then it is time to check to system files.

Check system files

SFC

Windows has a built-in program called System File Checker (SFC) to check system files for corruption and incorrect versions. SFC is run inside of an administrative command prompt. Just follow the link below for your version Windows for instructions on how to bring up an admin command prompt.

Open an Administrative Command Prompt in Windows 11

Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 10

Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8

Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7

SFC is the same in all of the currently supported versions of Windows. Here is the link to the most detailed instructions for SFC (Windows 10, Windows 11).

Check Windows 11 system files with System File Checker

Check Windows 10 system files with System File Checker

Once you are done running SFC and have corrected any problems it may have found, try running Windows Update. If it still doesn't work, try running the troubleshooters (repair/reset) one at a time, running Windows Update in between. If you again cannot run Windows Update successfully, it may be time to run the most advanced system corruption repair tools.

DISM (Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, Windows 11) / SUR (Windows Vista, Windows 7)

Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) and System Update Readiness tool (SUR) are the complete way of checking for file corruption in Windows. The link to the instructions on how to run both is below. DISM and SUR are meant to be used by advanced users, so if you don't feel comfortable running either one of these programs, please contact a local computer repair shop like Geeks in Phoenix for assistance.

Fix Windows Update errors by using the DISM or System Update Readiness tool

After running either DISM or SUR, check again to see if Windows Update will work. If Windows Update still does not work, it may be time to perform a repair upgrade to Windows 10 / Windows 11.

How to perform a repair upgrade of Windows 11

How to perform a repair upgrade or Windows 10

Create great graphics with Paint.NET 4.0

Updated September 22, 2020

One of the things I like to do besides repairing computers is creating graphics. Over the years, I have used many different image editing programs, including Photoshop and CorelDraw. But for free graphics programs, you just cannot beat Paint.NET.

Lately, I have been back through some of my older articles and updating the content. Even though I wrote this article a few years ago, Paint.NET is still one of my favorite graphics programs. And it just keeps getting better all of the time.

The user interface inside of Paint.NET 4
The user interface inside of Paint.NET 4

Paint.NET was initially created to replace the Paint program included in Windows but has evolved in to so much more since then. It includes such features as layers, effects, transparency, blending, and best of all, plugins.

With hundreds of plugins available, you can expand on the out-of-the-box graphic capabilities of Paint.NET. Since I have a digital camera that will take photos in RAW format, I found a plugin that opens that type of file. I also use Photoshop and have found a plugin to open those files too.

Paint.NET uses an asynchronous, fully multithreaded rendering engine and supports hardware acceleration via the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). Selections are anti-aliased, and selected outlines rendered with 'dancing ants' animation, significantly improving the contrast between the sample and image. And the user interface is clean and straightforward to use.

The Settings dialog box inside of Paint.NET 4
The Settings dialog box inside of Paint.NET 4

There are now two (2) versions of the Paint.NET program. The original Windows desktop version and the UWP (Universal Windows Platform). The Windows desktop version is available for download for free from the dotPDN website. The UWP version is available for purchase from the Microsoft Store.

Paint.NET system requirements

  • Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7 SP1 with platform update
  • .NET Framework 4.7.2
  • 1 GHz processor (dual-core recommended)
  • 1 GB of RAM

For more information on Paint.NET, follow the links below:

Get Paint 4
What's new in Paint.NET

Creating stunning documents, spreadsheets and slide-shows with OpenOffice 4

With the cost of Microsoft Office going up, not to mention the subscription / non-subscription thing, it's nice to know there are alternatives out there. One of the best office alternatives has to be OpenOffice. And it just so happens that the Apache Software Foundation recently released a new version of their free productivity software, OpenOffice 4.

The main screen inside of OpenOffice 4
The main screen inside of OpenOffice 4

For those who are not familiar with it, OpenOffice is a suite of office productivity programs that rivals Microsoft Office. It has everything you could need for creating great-looking documents, spreadsheets, and slideshow presentations. Here's a complete list of all of the programs included in OpenOffice 4.

Program Equivalent to Program type
Writer Microsoft Word Word processor
Calc Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
Impress Microsoft PowerPoint Multi-media slideshow presentation
Draw Microsoft Paint Graphic design
Base Microsoft Access Database
Math Design Science Mathtype Formula creation

OpenOffice 4 has some significant improvements over previous versions. A new Sidebar contains the most commonly used functions for that program, which can be docked, floating, or completely hidden. There is also much improved compatibly with Microsoft Office documents. The drawing, graphics, and gallery functions have also been enhanced, along with the copy & paste and drag & drop functionality.

The new Sidebar inside of OpenOffice 4 shown docked and floating
The new Sidebar inside of OpenOffice 4 shown docked and floating

OpenOffice does use Java, but it's not required for installation, as it can be added later on. Compatibility with other document formats is pretty impressive, but Star Office is no longer supported. OpenOffice can automatically load/convert and convert/save Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and Design Science Mathtype documents. The only file types that it cannot save to is the Microsoft Office 2007 - 2019 .???x formats.

And since OpenOffice is open-source, there are hundreds of third-party extensions to expand on the functionality of the applications. Add in a copy of GIMP or Paint.NET, and you have a complete and free desktop publishing package.

OpenOffice 4 is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. For more information on OpenOffice 4, just follow the links below:

Apache OpenOffice Open Source Project

Download OpenOffice 4

Free computer diagnostics

Repairing a PC can sometimes be expensive, and that is why we offer free basic in-shop diagnostics. Give one of our professional and experienced technicians a call at (602) 795-1111, and let's see what we can do for you.

Check out our reviews

Geeks In Phoenix LLC, BBB Business Review

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. We aim to give the highest quality of service  from computer repair, virus removal, and data recovery.

Bring your computer to us and save

Repairing a computer can be time-consuming. That is why we base our in-shop service on the time we work on your computer, not the time it takes for your computer to work! From running memory checking software to scanning for viruses, these are processes that can take some time.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (602) 795-1111  and talk with one of our Geeks. Or you can send us a message from our contact page contact page , and one of our Geeks will get back to you as soon as possible. Or you can stop by and see us. Here are our hours and location.

Like Geeks in Phoenix on Facebook

Follow Geeks in Phoenix on Twitter

Watch Geeks in Phoenix on YouTube