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How to type Māori macrons

Massey University has adopted the use of macron diacritical marks to signify the length of Māori vowels. This is consistent with the advice of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission). It’s unlikely your computer is set up to type macronised vowels right out of the box, however, which might make you wonder how to go about doing it. Wonder no longer!


If you’re running Windows Vista or above, you can set up your PC to type macrons natively, right from the keyboard, using the following steps:

  • Start Control Panel
  • Click “Change keyboards or other input methods” under the Clock, Language, and Region heading
  • Click Change keyboard
  • Click “Add” , then scroll down to English (New Zealand). Expand “Keyboard”, then click “Show more”
  • Find “Māori” in the list. Tick it, then click OK
  • Change “Default input language” to English (New Zealand) – Māori

You can then type macronised vowels by pressing the ` key, then the vowel (` + a = ā).

If you’re still running Windows XP… first of all, my sincerest condolences. Second, the hoops you have to jump through on XP are too lengthy to go into here. Fortunately, if you’re composing content for Massey’s website, our content management system provides users the ability to add macrons to Māori words via the CharMap button, which resembles the Greek letter Omega (Ω). Click that button, then find and select the appropriate character from the lengthy options. This takes a great deal longer than being able to simply type the vowel, but at least you have the option. (But seriously… Windows XP?! It’s past time to upgrade.)

Mac OS X

Mac users running OS X Lion or above have a very handy systemwide keyboard shortcut available right out of the box. Hold down the key for the vowel you want to macronise for about half a second. A small dialog will pop up showing you several options, including a macron. (It’s worth noting that this works on iPad and iPhone keyboards, too.)

Mac users running anything older than Lion need to set their system up first.

  • Launch the System Preferences application
  • Navigate to Language & Text, then the Input Sources tab
  • Find Māori on the list and tick the checkbox next to it
  • Tick the box next to “Show Input menu in menu bar”
  • From the Input menu in the menu bar (near the upper right corner of the screen), select “Māori”

After setting things up, Mac users can then use one of two keyboard shortcuts to type macronised vowels.

  • Type `, then the vowel (i.e., `+ a = ā)
  • Hold down Option/Alt + vowel (i.e., Option + a = ā)

Just one final note: Never substitute umlauts (those two little dots you see over vowels in lots of German words) for macrons. Māori and Manawatū are correct; Mäori and Manawatü are not.

Hopefully that takes the mystery out of typing Māori macrons on your PC or Mac.

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