Vista and the annoying French characters

Since I've installed MS Vista I've been plauged with getting characters like: É, >, ^^,`` when I wanted characters like ?,|,}," (note those are the exact same keys that did this, i just toggled my settings... keep reading).

so what does this?

Pressing the left CTRL + SHIFT keys at the same time toggles a weird setting that does this. I assume it's on canadian keyboard only who have the language set to Canadian English (because all know Canadian Enlish is proper English eh?).

So if you find yourself all of a sudden churning out weird characters when you're typing along, try pressing the left CTRL + SHIFT keys at the same time to switch it back over (You might need to press them a couple times).


  • This always happens to me too. Thanks for finding out how to turn it off :)

  • Its probably the Canadian Mutilingual keyboard layout. Ugh. I don't often need to type accents, but when I do, I use alt plus the code.

    If you have no French speakers (or typers) you can remove the keyboard layout completely.

    From regional settings (regional and language settings) keyboards/change keyboards, you can remove all the keyboard you don't use and leave only the one you need.

    I don't think the multilingual keyboard is relevance to English Canadians having the most proper English "accent" ;)

  • Thanks for the info Andrew!

  • Kudos to you for finding that out. Haven't found another source on the net that says something about this. You might want to post this on a high-traffic site like Yahoo! Answers to let more know this solution. Many thanks again for solving this problem.

  • I must have rebooted 200 times (to reset my keyboard) before I read your tip.  THANKS!!

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I was about to reinstall Microsoft office 2007 'cause I couldn't figure out what else to do.  :D

  • Thanks, I really appreciate it.

  • I have this problem right now and can not get my keyboard to toggle back no matter how many time I press ctrl + shift keys at the same time. Any help  

    I HATE VISTA with a passion

  • wow - thank you SO much.

    I searched everywhere on the web but found nothing helpful until your post!

    You're a saviour!

    My fingers feel liberated and are doing a happy dance.


  • Just like everyone says, thanks so much, this is the only place I found the solution.

  • All i can say is, CRTL + Shift wont turn it back, i counted 2 different solutions here and im about to try the 2nd one now. Did anyone make sure these were 100% true before posting?

  • Thanks, I have a presentation a couple of days and need to turn it off

  • I too have had the problem with e acute sign when typing apostrophes and question marks only when I'm on Outlook. When I'm typing on word it works fine, as you can see.

    I have tried all those options listed above and it still doesn't work.



  • This is retarded, CTRL+SHIFT is a majorly used keyboard shortcut. Why would MS do this, almost as annoying as the old sticky keys thing when you held down shift for too long. Removing the other languaged keyboard layouts leaving you with just the Canadian - US layout fixes this issue.

  • Thank you. Microsoft really picked a bad shortcut for this and annoyed a lot of people.

  • annoying is the word - thanks for the solution. I had to press both buttons at the same time (not press-hold-press).

  • I have done everything that was specified in this post and I am still have the french characters dominating my afternoon. this absolutely sucks as i have an assignment due is only acting up in Office 2007 though...//// see, //// works here! instead of that e with the accent.

  • THANK YOU ...This was driving me crazy!!

  • thank you so much for the cool tip (I used to restart the laptop once this happen since 3 months and finally you saved me!)

  • You guys rock...thanks for saving my sanity!!

  • Thanks soooo much! I couldn't figure out what I was going wrong! Got it back to normal now!

  • On my computer, it's the RIGHT side crtl+shift that turns the characters on and off, not the left. And yeah, I also sometimes have to push it more than once to turn it off again.

    Thanks for the advice on how to turn it off completely though -- that's the help I was looking for. Everytime you want to make multiple selections in Excel, Illustrator, the damn keyboard changes....

  • Amazing... thanks so much to this thread... I keep accidently changing my keyboard and couldn't find a way to put it back (Ctrl-Shift) worked for me... or to turn it off completely... both solutions in one thread... excellent. David

  • Deakra...yeah those people did make sure that it was 100% true before posting...because it actually DOES work.
    You're probably doing something wrong.
    I just checked it myself and ctrl + shift works perfectly :]

    Ryan, I adore you for figuring this out :D
    The accents came in handy whenever I was typing french essays, but for english work, it was absolutely no good. So I'm delighted to know how to turn it off and on. Thanks much!

  • I have been trying to figure this out for the last 3 months since I started using Vista... I had resorted to opening up notepad and typing the characers in there and copy/pasting them into my application. Or rebooting. I could never nail down exactly what I did to cause it to go into "wierd" mode.

  • Thank you so much! I've been trying to figure out why this was happening and now I know why and how I can reverse it. It's especially annoying when you're typing in Word and suddenly it changes. Now I don't have restart it.


  • Thank you so much for posting this!! I have been freaking out trying to get back to English- I HATE VISTA! I contacted Microsoft to try & get a resolution & they said they would charge me $92.00 to tell me how to switch the characters back! of course they only told me this after I had bounced from person to person to person.... for 45 minutes.. I understand my warranty expired 1 month ago but just to tell me how to get back to english for 92.00 is insane!

  • Thanks Stupid things been driving me nuts

  • thanks i was wondering how it happened so easily

  • ctrl & shift worked fine for me

  • From what I recall, this wasn't only a Vista problem. I had similar issue with XP as well. Thanks for your tip, this is truly a "Canadian" problem!

  • Over a year I've been dealing with this. THANK YOU!

  • I have had this problem for a very long time. I would close the program and reopen it to reset. No longer. Thank you.

  • Thank you so much. I happen to write in French and English. The accent's were always coming on at random. I used to copy and paste the letters into Word. It was a terrible pain. You have saved me loads of time.

  • This is not just a problem with Vista. I inherited an old laptop from someone else at work with XP on it and it functions the same. Drove me crazy but thanks to your posts, I was only mental for about 3 weeks!

  • Thank you for your brilliance.

  • Add me to the list of relieved Canadians. Yet another undocumented "feature" of Vista. Thank god I can run ubuntu at home and avoid all this craziness ...

  • Thanks!! This was one that not even our IT guys could solve.

  • Thanks. Crazy that this is not better documented.

  • arggggg this isnt working for me i have an acer aspire one (and i bought it in Canada) its STILL not working ive tried every possible combo, its so frustrating and because im a student who needs to write essays and papers its extremely annoying please help

  • THANK YOU. This has saved me a lot of exit-rentering, rebooting time! :)

  • Thanks for the tip! The CTRL-SHIFT didn't work for me (on either side of the keyboard) so I just switched the language back to English U.S. and the issue in Outlook 2007 went away.

    Note to all, it isn't just a Vista issue. I'm on Windows 2007 and it happened to me this afternoon (out of nowhere.)

  • Even Microsoft doesn't list this simple solution in its Vista forums. Instead, they blab on about the keyboard language settings in control panel. Blah, blah. I share the frustration that MS chose these to commonly used keys for the toggle. Duhhh.

  • had to hit the ctrl shift a few times but IT WORKED!!! Thank you very very much!!

  • F u C K!!! Thanks SOOO much! That is such a @$*)(#(@#@&^$!!! :) Much Love!

  • Thanks so much, this has been driving me NUTS!

  • TYVM. This problem has followed to windows 7 - but NOW I can fix it.

    I would recommend going to keyboards and simply removing french and multilingual

  • Thank you so much..the left Shift and Ctrl at the same time worked for me. I did have to do it twice before it worked. It is sooo annoying!!

  • You are my hero. Thank you SO much for this simple explanation!

  • you can disable the ctrl-shift or choose something else by going to the Language Bar and choosing Settings, Advanced Settings and changing the Key Sequence. I set both not Not Assigned and that removes the shortcut. :)

  • Let me add my voice to the chorus of thank yous for explaining this maddening Windows function.

  • You are awesome!! Finally some one who knows how to fix this!!

  • Thanks to Kris from March 2009 for finally figuring out the arcane combination of waving dead cats at midnight while hopping on one foot and saying "Oh Wa Ta Goo Siam"! To finally get the darn Windows 7 apostrophe key to work properly! It wouldn't type anything! (until you hit the space bar or the apostrophe key again at which time it would print either one or two apostrophes) which was incredibly annoying and made me want to fire bomb Redmond! Or maybe that mansion on the lake if I could get by security.

  • i tried the crtl shift thing and it didnt work.. is there any other way to turn it off

  • As with others, many thanks for figuring this out.

  • Thanks. Hit CTL Shift by mistake, and didn't know where the accents were coming from. Especially wierd since I use Alt shift for switching to Japanese.
    Thanks again.

  • Do what you say,say what you do


  • Never underestimate your power to change yourself!


  • I wonder how many on this list are leftiesÉ

    For me it is the LEFT ALT + SHIFT that worked.

    Thanks so much to all who participated. As a tester, this will save me time. As a left handed keyboard user, I would run into this a lot because I used the left keys most.

    Appreciate your help, thanks!

    ? = Left ALT + Shift + press them both while pressing the ? key
    É = Left ALT + Shift + press them both while pressing the ? key

  • so weird that I found the answer from you Ryan! Anyways it did work for me. I just had to press the shift first then the ctrl.

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