January 30, 2024

Article at AllanTépper.com

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Using a Stream Deck for «guillemets» (angle quotation marks)

Allan Tépper

Most people I know use a Stream Deck device for editing audio or video. So far, I am the only one I know who also uses it to facilitate writing.

Most people I know who use a Stream Deck device do so to facilitate editing audio or video with their favorite applications. In fact, I too have used my Stream Deck to facilitate editing with Hindenburg Pro (previously called Hindenburg Journalist Pro) which I have covered in many past articles. However, I have found another use for my Stream Deck. I also use my Stream Deck to access two special types of quotation marks whose official name in English is «guillemets». These angled symbols are the standard recommended angled quotation marks in approximately 41 languages per my research, including Castilian (the most widely used of the 6 official Spanish languages), Catalán (another official language in Spain), French, Galician (another official language in Spain) and European Portuguese. In fact, the RAE (Real Academia Española or Royal Spanish Academy in charge of the Castilian language) officially recommends using «guillemets» in all usage, but (very likely to «guillemets» being missing in action on the official Spanish ISO keyboard layout), «guillemets» are generally reserved for use in professional publishing in Castilian, since most Castilian speakers find it too much work to bother with it. Sadly, macOS’s built-in workaround to facilitate «guillemets» — and macOS’s text substitution feature — both suffer two major failures which I’ll explain ahead. Since I publish books for myself and for clients (and a very high percentage of them are in Castilian) and my clients and I prefer the «guillemets» aesthetically, I found a usable solution with the Stream Deck (together with the Spanish ISO keyboard). The Stream Deck solution fortunately turns out to be immune from the two aforementioned macOS failures.

The ≈41 languages that use «guillemets»

According to the Wikipedia article, these ≈41 languages use «guillemets» (with the following observations):

  • Albanian
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Belarusian
  • Breton
  • Bulgarian (rarely used; „…“ is official)
  • Castilian (castellano) commonly but incorrectly called «Spanish», (The «guillemets» are uncommon in daily usage, but frequently used in professional publishing.)
  • Catalán (another of the 6 languages which are official in Spain)
  • Chinese (《 and 》 are used to indicate a book or album title) (I am not sure whether this refers to Mandarin or Cantonese. Please comment below if you know.)
  • Croatian (mostly used in book publications; „…“ is commonly used in newspapers)
  • Czech (traditional but declining usage; „…“ prevails)
  • Danish (“…” is also used)
  • Esperanto
  • Estonian (marked usage; „…“ prevails)
  • Franco-Provençal
  • French (spaced out by thin spaces « like this », except in Switzerland)
  • Galician (galegogallego), another of the 6 official languages which are official in Spain)
  • German («Guillemets» are preferred for books, while „…“ is preferred in newspapers and handwriting.)
  • Greek
  • Hungarian (only used „inside a section »as a secondary quote« marked by the usual quotes” like this)
  • Italian
  • Khmer
  • Northern Korean (in Southern Korean, “ is used)
  • Kurdish
  • Latvian (stūrainās pēdiņas)
  • Norwegian
  • Persian
  • Polish (used to indicate a quote inside a quote as defined by dictionaries; more common usage in practice.)
  • Portuguese (used mostly in European Portuguese, although available on the Brazilian Mac keyboard)
  • Romanian; only to indicate a quotation within a quotation
  • Russian, and some languages of the former Soviet Union using Cyrillic script („…“ is also used for nested quotes and in hand-written text.)
  • Serbian (marked usage; „…“ prevails)
  • Slovak (traditional but declining usage; „…“ prevails)
  • Slovene („…“ and “…” also used)
  • «Spanish» (see Castlian, Catalán and Galician above, since they are three of the six official languages in Spain)
  • Swedish (this style, and »…» are considered typographically fancy; ”…” is the common form of quotation)
  • Swiss languages
  • Turkish (dated usage; almost entirely replaced with “…” by late 20th century)
  • Uyghur
  • Ukrainian
  • Uzbek (mostly in the Cyrillic script)
  • Vietnamese (previously, now “…” is official)

Two failures in the macOS workarounds (for macOS keyboard layouts that lack direct access to «guillemets»)

macOS’s Text Substitutions (previously called Shortcuts)

It is great that macOS offers a feature in the System Configuration (previously called System Preferences). You create them inside of System Configuration (called Configuración de Sistema if your system is in Castilian) and the Keyboard (Teclado). It is not only useful for rare symbols, but also for phrases or sentences. The problem is that not all apps support this feature. It is easy to determine whether a particular macOS app supports it by looking under the Edit (Editar) menu within the app and checking to see if there is a listed option called Substitutions (Sustituciones). If you see it there in the Edit (Editar) menu, the app supports it. If not, it doesn’t. Many essential apps don’t support it and one of my daily apps uses it in one section of the app, but not another section.

macOS’s global setting for double quotation marks

Similar to the Text Substitutions covered in the prior paragraph, macOS offers a setting within the System Configuration (Configuración del Sistema) under Keyboard (Teclado) where you can tell it to choose different types of double “quotation marks”. Fortunately, one of the options listed in the pulldown menu are «guillemets». However, here are the two failures with this solution:

  1. The same apps that don’t support text substitutions do not obey this setting either.
  2. Even if your apps all comply, the problem is that since it’s a global setting, you can’t have the freedom to use either “English-style” quotation marks or «guillemets» within an app that obeys it, unless you constantly change the global setting, which is unacceptable.

That is why these two macOS workarounds fail for many users. The «guillemets» should really be directly part of the Spanish ISO keyboard layout, without the need for any workarounds at all. Apparently, the RAE (Real Academia Española or Royal Spanish Academy in charge of the Castilian language) has not lobbied to have this fixed, the way the European Community did for all computer platforms and most keyboard layouts to allow for direct access to the € (euro currency) symbol. While that sad situation remains with «guillemets» with the Spanish ISO keyboard, I am covering how I solved it with the Stream Deck.

Some keyboard layouts with direct access to «guillemets»

The following are just a few keyboard layouts which have direct access to «guillemets» as well as “English-style” quotation marks. (In my opinion, all keyboards should have direct access to both quotation styles. It should not require any special workaround like the two macOS workarounds covered above.)

When I say «direct access», I am including the use of the ALT GR key. For those unfamiliar, the ALT GR key exists on nearly all non-US keyboards (including the aforementioned Spanish ISO keyboard layout) to the right of the spacebar and is used constantly to access very common symbols including the @ symbol and the (euro) currency symbol, among others. Generally speaking, in the keyboard layouts shown ahead the keys used with the ALT GR key are shown in blue.

Canadian French

Above is the Canadian French layout, with direct access to both «guillemets» and “English style” quotes. On macOS, you must select «Canadian-PC» to get this layout.

Dutch Netherlands

Above is the Dutch Netherlands layout, with both «guillemets» and “English style” quotes.

German T2

Above is the German T2 layout, with direct access to both «guillemets» and “English style” quotes. On macOS, you must select «German standard» to get this layout.


Above is the Greek layout, with direct access to both «guillemets» and “English style” quotes. On macOS, it’s this way with the standard Greek layout.

Polish PN87

Above is the Polish PN87 layout, with direct access to both «guillemets» and “English style” quotes. On macOS, it is this way with the Polish QWERTZ layout.


Above is the Portuguese (European Portugal) layout for non-macOS,with direct access to both «guillemets» and “English style” quotes.On macOS, the Portuguese layout has «guillemets» but they’re located with ALT GR + X. On macOS, the standard Brazilian keyboard layout has «guillemets» with ALT GR with the key on the far right of the third row.

Some operating systems with the best «guillemets» access

ChromeOS and Linux:Regardless of the keyboard layout, the two operating systems which offer the best direct access to «guillemets» as well as “English-style” quotation marks include ChromeOS (i.e the one used in Chromebooks, Chromebases and Chromboxes) and Linux using ALT GR + Z and ALT GR + X. (I have personally used this with my Chromebook using the Spanish ISO keyboard. I haven’t tested with other layouts on Chromebooks. I haven’t tried «guillemets» on Linux yet either, but this is according to research.)

Windows with US International layout:Specifically on Windows, the US-International layout also offers great support for «guillemets» using the ALT GR key, per my research. With Windows the US-International layout also retains access to “English style” quotes.

Stream Deck for «guillemets»

I created a new profile for this. As you will see in the photo above, I added images I had created with Keynote. There may be a way for the Stream Deck to show the symbols properly without having to create an image file for this, but if so, I am not familiar with it, so I did it this way. Fortunately — unlike the failed macOS workarounds, the Stream Deck works with all of the apps, without exception.


As long as the macOS workarounds covered continue to have so many limitations and I continue to use the Spanish ISO keyboard for so many other reasons, the Stream Deck for «guillemets» work exceptionally well for me. Perhaps someday, someone will add more direct access to «guillemets» to the official (or a third-party unofficial) Spanish ISO keyboard layout, like the one that I created many years ago for the Apple Paraguayan dealer, in order to type the Guaraní language using the Spanish ISO keyboard. In the meantime, I am happy using the Stream Deck with my Mac Mini M1 and I am happy that the ChromeOS on my Chromebook already offers direct access to «guillemets» with its Spanish ISO keyboard, although the «guillemets» are not printed as such on the keys.

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Stream Deck para teclear las «comillas angulares»

FTC disclosure

None of the companies mentioned has paid for this article. Allan Tépper is the director of TecnoTur LLC. Some of the manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.