I'm not exactly sure if this is Canada-only. I imagine it extends to other countries who host more languages than English and have a need to access scores of letters with accents, foreign currency symbols, and a few gratuitously random items. In Canada, we're characterized by our bilingualism, which means keyboards must (or should; not all of them do) support French.
My Toshiba Satellite thus has a number of red markings on the keys, and a red 'Alt' key that, I assume, is for accessing the special letters and characters that these markings denote. I never consciously use these, since I don't speak French and do not usually write it, and so I have no need for these keys. However! The availability of these special characters means that sometimes my computer gets confused. I've been in the middle of typing something, and all of a sudden my '?' key will only type an 'é'. This seems to happen randomly; with little or no input from me. It annoys me to no end.
If you have this problem, I'm gonna show you how to fix it. The key to this is the 'language bar'. It's usually visible on the taskbar just left of the clock and system tray (that's the fancy name for that little row of icons on the lower-right of your screen). Sometimes it's in a floating bar somewhere else. If it isn't visible, there are two things to try to make it so. Here's method number one.
- Right-click the taskbar.
- Click 'Toolbars'.
- Check 'Language Bar' in the list.
If there is no 'Language Bar' option in the Toolbar menu, try this:
- Go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Control Panel.
- Click 'Clock, Language, and Region'.
- Under 'Regional and Language Options' click 'Change keyboards or other input methods'.
- Click the 'Change Keyboards...' button.
- Click the 'Language Bar' tab, and select the 'Docked in the taskbar' option.
Once the language bar is up on the taskbar, you can deal with your foreign-character-spitting keyboard with ease. Here's how, in a couple quick steps.
- Open the window that seems to be the source of your keyboard trouble.
- Click the language bar and select 'US'.
And you're done! With that, you'll be able to fix up your keyboard's linguistic confusion at the touch of a button, rather than having to restart the laptop every time that occurs. Happy typing!