Skip Navigation Links

Keyboard setup for macrons

A macron is a line above a vowel to indicate that it should be spoken as a long vowel: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū, Ā, Ē, Ī, Ō and Ū.  The Māori word for macron is tohutō (or pōtae - hat). For more detailed information on its use, see Māori Orthographic Conventions.

Windows Vista and Windows 7/8/10

On Windows Vista, the Māori keyboard driver is already installed. You just have to activate it as follows:

  1. Start Control Panel.
  2. Click Change keyboards or other input methods (under the Clock, Language and Region heading).
  3. Click Change keyboard.
  4. If it already says English (New Zealand) - Maori, then it's already set up. Don't continue!
  5. Otherwise, click Add.
  6. Scroll down to English (New Zealand), expand Keyboard, click Show More.
  7. Find Maori in the list and tick it, then click OK.
  8. Change the Default input language to English (New Zealand) - Maori.

Now you can easily enter a macronised vowel by pressing ` (the key with ~ on it) and then the vowel. To enter a macronised capital vowel, press `, then hold down shift and press the vowel.

Typing Macrons

Now you can easily enter a macronised vowel by pressing ` (the key with ~ on it) and then the vowel.

`a = ā
To enter a macronised capital vowel, press `, then hold down shift and press the vowel, e.g.,
`A = Ā
Note you don't have to hold down ` while you press the vowel, just press ` then press the vowel.

Writing in te reo Māori in Microsoft Word

If you've followed the above instructions, you can already type macrons in Word. However, if you have Word, you may be able to install the Māori language interface pack or proofing tools...
For Office 2013:
For Office 2016:

If you are a fluent speaker, you can configure Word to change the menus from English to Te Reo, but for those less fluent it is still useful to install because it includes a Te Reo Māori spell checker. To use the Spell Checker, you need to mark the text in the document as either English or Māori.

To mark text as Māori, select the text, go to Tools (for older versions of Word) or Review (newer versions), then Language, Set Language, select Māori and choose OK. If you usually type in Māori rather than English, you can click on the Default button before clicking OK.

However, the above is a bit laborious if you regularly mix Te Reo Māori and English in the same document. To easily switch between the two languages as you type, you can set up another Input Language. After doing this, you can simply press a key combination to switch to the other language you are about to type in. To set up two Input Languages:

  1. Start, Control Panel, Regional and Language Options.
  2. Click on the Languages tab.
  3. Click on Details...
  4. Use the Add and Remove buttons to set up your system so that you have English and Māori languages, both using the Māori keyboard, as follows:

  5. In the top drop down list, choose either English or Māori depending on what language you use most.
If you wish, click on the Language Bar and Key Settings buttons for more options. By default, if you press Left-Alt + Shift together, it will switch between the two languages.
This is useful in Word as the text you type next will be marked as either Māori or English and spell checked accordingly. Also, Word indicates in the status bar at the bottom of the window which language it is using for that portion of the text.
Why use the Māori keyboard for both English and Māori? So that you can type macrons in the middle of an English sentence without having to switch languages, that is, so that the ` + vowel key combination creates macrons regardless of the language setting.

Apple Mac

To set up your Mac so that you can type macrons:

  • Click on the Apple logo in the top left and choose System Preferences
  • Click Language & Region
  • Click Keyboard Preferences
  • Click the + icon and find Maori in the list.
  • Click Add
  • Optionally, tick Show input menu in menu bar

To type a macronised vowel on a machine thus configured you simply hold down Alt / Option and then the vowel. You can also do this in conjuction with the Shift key to type an uppercase macronised vowel.


The following has been provided by Ian Beardslee:

Most of the modern Linux distributions now have a Māori keyboard that can be installed to make typing macrons easy (I think it is easier than currently described). The easiest way is to choose the Māori keyboard while you are doing the installation. But if you are doing a post installation change it should be fairly simple.

The Māori keyboard in Linux uses the RightAlt+'vowel' to create the āēīōū.

In Ubuntu

In System Settings >> Text Entry use the '+' in the bottom left to select another input source and search for 'Maori'.

Feel free to remove other input sources, or change the order moving Maori to the top. By default you should be able to switch between input sources/languages in an applet in the taskbar at the top of your screen.

RightAlt+'vowel' will put the macron on the vowel for the fonts that support macrons.

For those who want to use āēīōū on the console

sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

I choose the 'Generic 105-key (Intl) PC' keyboard and then 'Maori' as the 'Country of origin for the keyboard', and leave the rest as the default. This is pretty much the same as editing /etc/default/keyboard and setting:


The following information has been provided by Robert de Kock:

Using the Compose key on Linux

In Linux you produce macrons by using the standard Compose key. This is a standard operating system feature and works with any word processor or other software. To produce for instance a macroned 'ā', you hold down the Compose key, and type an 'a' followed by a hyphen. The Compose key is also handy for accented characters, Euro signs and many other special characters. The only thing is, the Compose key is not always pre-set, and tends to be different for each user-front-end (or "desktop") such as Gnome, Xfce or Lxde. Usually you can configure which one you want it to be. Personally I prefer to use the otherwise (in Linux) dysfunctional Windows or Menu keys. Your system's documentation or online information will tell you how.

Other operating systems and older versions

Stephen Cope has a web page discussing how to type macrons on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux:

If you have information on configuring keyboards for macrons on other systems, please email

Online keyboard

If you can't change the keyboard setup of the device you're using (e.g., if you have no administrative access or if it's a device like a smart phone with no macron support), you can use this handy online "keyboard" to enter macrons.

Font support for macrons

Some font families have support for macrons and others don’t. If you are developing a web site or going through a rebranding exercise, make macron support a mandatory requirement of the project before you start.

FontMagic, a division of The Tuatara Press Limited, may be able to add macron support to fonts that don’t otherwise support it.