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    Degree sign in Windows
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2021 Aug 6, 09:03 -0700

    This is pure trivia for Windows users who write frequently on navigation topics.

    We often need degree signs in navigation discussions. There's a special tool on the NavList message boards that lets you drop in a degree sign with a single icon click, like so: °. See? Degree sign. I implemented this tool years ago, and I'm happy with it. But I often need a degree sign in other situations, outside NavList messages. There's the very old trick using the numeric keypad (only if your keyboard has one): you type alt+0176, and that emits a degree sign °. That's five keystrokes usually requiring both hands to get a single character, and I have never found it convenient. We can also open the "character map" tool and copy and paste. There are lots of options. Many apps and software products include tools that will allow you to add a special character occasionally, but I need a degree sign in so many contexts that I got to the point where I just had to have a single, dedicated keyboard key that would type ° whenever I needed it. There is now a mature, open-source tool for this called AutoHotKey. Download and install from autohotkey.com, and then create a simple .ahk script file containing this code:


    This says re-assign backtick key to... (line 1), output a degree sign... (line 2), and end (line 3). This script runs when Windows starts. Now whenever I tap the backtick key in any app or any software tool, no matter the context, I get a degree sign. On the standard US English keyboard, the backtick key is a rarely used punctuation under the tilde ~ which is usually near the esc key towards the upper left on the standard keyboard. It looks like an apostrophe with a tilt. Of course you could use a different single key (e.g. the pipe character | ) or a combination (like ctrl-d). And on other keyboards backtick may not be available.

    No one needs this. I got by for years without it. But I have found it useful and convenient in recent weeks.

    Frank Reed

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