Feature Overview

PopChar makes it easy to "type" any character from any font. It displays the repertoires of your fonts, including thousands of characters that cannot be inserted using the keyboard.

PopChar X displays a small "P" in the menu bar. Though small and unobtrusive, the "P" is always there when you need to insert a special character - no matter in which application you are currently working.

This makes basic usage of PopChar easy: Just click the "P", find the desired character, and click the character to insert it. But PopChar can do much more than that. Read on to learn more about the many features of PopChar.

popchar activation

Click the picture above for an enlarged view.

To get an impression how PopChar eases insertion of unusual characters and how you can explore the contents of your fonts, watch our new videos.

New in PopChar X 8.0

Browse the feature descriptions below to get an impression what PopChar can do for you. Sections marked with are new in PopChar X 8.0.

To view the full list of improvements of the current version of PopChar X, please have a look at our version history page.

Full Unicode support

PopChar supports Unicode fonts with thousands of characters.

The grid-like character table of PopChar gives you an excellent overview of all characters in a font, neatly arranged in sections according to the Unicode standard, by scripts and symbols, as well as in custom layouts.

If you don't need a section, just collapse it.


unicode categoriesYou can easily navigate through the Unicode characters by scrolling. You can also use the category menu right above the scroll bar to quickly jump to an arbitrary section.

Magnifier tool

PopChar's magnifier tool lets you see an enlarged view of characters. This is especially useful for characters with small, subtle details.

The grid lines in the close-up lens also let you see exactly where a character sits relative to the baseline.

Just activate the magnifier in the bottom-left corner of the window. Whenever you point at a character, PopChar then displays a close-up view of the character.

Hint: You can toggle the current setting of the magnifier at any time by pressing the shift key.

PopChar's magnifier tool

Search for characters

Instantly search for particular characters by name.

search for characters 1

Enter the character "e" into the quick search field to display special characters based on "e" (è. é, ê, ë, …) only.

search for characters 2

If you need any particular representation of a number, just enter "number" in the search field to see all appropriate characters.

You can enter decimal or hexadecimal numbers to find the characters with the corresponding Unicode number.

Last but not least, you can copy an arbitrary piece of text and paste it into PopChar’s search field.

PopChar then displays all characters that occur in the text you entered.

Find characters by drawing their shapes

Finding a special character is as easy as drawing it on the screen.

With PopChar, inserting any character is as easy as clicking it in the PopChar table, and you can even search large fonts for characters by their Unicode names. Unfortunately, you often don't know the Unicode name of the desired character, so you don't know which search terms to enter. But you do know what the desired character looks like. With PopChar, you can simply show PopChar what you want.

print font preview


With PopChar's "Shape Finder", you can draw the shape of a character on the screen to tell PopChar what you are looking for. You just draw the approximate shape and click the Find button, and PopChar comes up with all characters that resemble this shape. It has never been easier to find special characters, even in Unicode fonts with thousands of characters.

Find similar characters

Easily find similar shapes based on a known character.

print font preview

The Shape Finder can also be used with PopChar's new "Find Similar Shape" context command, which allows you to start with a character in the table, optionally add a few extra strokes, and quickly find characters that look similar.


Discover keyboard combinations

Keyboard combination

If a character has a keyboard equivalent, PopChar displays which keys generate the character.

This is most useful for quickly typing accented letters in foreign languages.

If you need the same character again and again, PopChar tells you how to type it.

Actually, most Unicode characters do not have keyboard equivalents. But if it is possible to type a certain character, PopChar tells you how.

Various insertion modes

PopChar offers three insertion modes. You can choose to insert selected characters as plain text or as formatted text, along with font information and in the font size you specify.

various insertion modes

Web designers will appreciate the HTML mode that lets them insert characters as numeric or named HTML codes.

You can also control-click or right-click a character to open a context menu for copying the character to the clipboard in various formats.

Use the combined repertoire of ALL your fonts

With "Union of All Available Fonts", you can work with all available characters of ALL your fonts.

searching for cubImagine you need the cubic meters symbol in a text written in Helvetica. Searching for "cub" does not yield any results, as the Helvetica font does not contain such a symbol. To find a font that contains this particular character, you would need to click through hundreds of fonts until you find one that contains the desired symbol.

view entire repertoireAs an alternative, simply switch to "Union of All Available Fonts" to see the entire repertoire of Unicode characters available in any font. The search for "cub" now produces the cube root as well as some metric units cubed, including the symbol for cubic meters. Click the symbol, and PopChar inserts it into your document. See also the "reverse search" feature below.

"Reverse search" for fonts that contain a particular character

If you have found the cubic meters symbol, you probably wonder in which fonts it exists.

To find all fonts that contain a particular character, you can use the "reverse searching" feature of PopChar: Just use the context menu to mark all fonts that contain the desired character. Then click one of the marks to jump directly to the marked character in any of these fonts.

reverse search for fonts

Favorites and recent characters

If you need the same characters again and again, simply add them to the Favorites group. This group is always visible at the top of the character table and gives you quick access to all frequently needed characters. Technical symbols, accented characters in foreign languages, arrows, mathematical operators, circled numbers, astrological symbols, etc. You define which characters are important for you. The Favorites section provides fastest possible look-up and insertion of special characters with a single click.

Favorite and recent characters

To add a character to the Favorites section, right-click or ctrl-click the desired character.

Whenever you use PopChar to insert a character in any document, it automatically adds that character to the Recent Characters group right below the Favorites. The Recent Characters section is a great place to find potential favorites.

When you find yourself inserting recently used characters frequently, consider adding them permanently to the Favorites section. Favorite characters are under your control, but a recent character eventually disappears when you use many other characters.

Custom Layouts: Create your own character arrangements

With custom layouts, you can group and arrange the characters in the PopChar table as you wish ...

emoji layoutNew in PopChar 8.0 is the possibility to arrange characters in the way you want to see them. Unicode defines a standard numbering scheme, which also determines the order in which characters appear in PopChar.

With custom layouts, you can group and arrange the characters in the PopChar table as you wish. You can, for example, create a group containing your favorite emojis, another one with accented letters that you often need, mathematical symbols in the order that makes sense for you, etc. You can create more than one such layout and switch between your preferred arrangements with a click.

Alphabet layout Layouts are simple text files. To tell PopChar which characters belong together in a group, just list the characters in the desired order unter the group name. And, of course, you can use PopChar to insert the characters in the layout files.

PopChar already comes with a few predefined layouts. For example, there is an "Alphabet" layout that lists letters and accents that are used in many languages, as well as an "Emoji" layout that arranges emojis by their meaning, instead of their Unicode numbers.

We also offer additional layouts for download.

Link selected fonts to specific layouts

... and you can link a font to its own font-specific layout.


Some fonts are best viewed with their own font-specific layouts. For example, the built in Emojis layout is great for Apple Color Emoji, so you will probably always want to see this font in this special layout. To link a font with a preferred layout, enable the link symbol next to the font name, then select the layout to be used for that font.

Linking fonts and Layouts

From now on, PopChar automatically switches to its associated layout when it displays this font.

Find and insert emojis

If you like emojis, PopChar is the perfect tool for finding and inserting all sorts of colorful symbols. Select the Apple Color Emoji font, and PopChar displays symbols for smileys, persons, roles, gestures, sports, families, hearts, clothing, animals, etc.

Some of these symbols are represented by single Unicode characters, but PopChar does not stop there: It also displays symbols that would otherwise be difficult to create, as they actually consist of multiple characters (for example, a "base character" that is modified by a symbol for a profession, a male/female symbol, and optionally a skin tone). With PopChar, you just click and select.

Apple Color Emoji flags

Emojis with skin tone variants

Many faces and person images in Apple Color Emoji are available in a generic yellow version as well as in five natural skin tones.

For every symbol that has skin tone variants, PopChar displays a skin tone indicator in the bottom right corner of the symbol. Just click that indicator and select the desired skin tone.

You don't need to know how it actually works under the hood; PopChar inserts the proper combination of Unicode characters to generate the selected symbol in the chosen skin tone.

emoji skin tones

Text/Emoji representation

Many emoji characters can be represented both in their traditional black&white form and a colorful emoji representation. When you insert such a character in a document, the target application chooses an appropriate representation.

Text Emoji representation

With PopChar, you can control whether the text or the emoji representation is used. Click the small yellow/black triangle in the corner of a symbol and choose the desired variant.

Country Flags

Apple Color Emoji contains more than 250 country flags that are generated by combining so-called “regional indicator symbols”. For example, the combination of the regional indicators “C” and “K” produces the flag of the Cook Islands (with the country code “CK”).

With PopChar, you do not need to know country codes or be aware of the technical foundation of the flag symbols. Just select Apple Color Emoji in PopChar, scroll down to the flags section and click one of the flags to insert it in your current document. You can even search for the country names. For example, you can enter “Cook” in PopChar’s search field and do not even need to know that the country code for the Cook Islands is “CK”.

Emoji Country Flags


PopChar 8 adds support for ligatures – a secret feature of many fonts that translates adjacent characters into aesthetically pleasing forms.

Ligatures are sequences of multiple characters that are represented as a single glyph. They are frequently used by font designers to display certain letter combinations with better spacing or connecting lines.

A popular example is the “f+i” ligature, where the top arc of the letter “f” is merged with the dot of the letter “i”. If a font contains such an “f+i” ligature, the corresponding glyph is used wherever these two letters occur next to each other.

If a font contains ligatures, PopChar shows them with a green background in a separate section at the end of the character table.

Alphabet layout

Although ligatures look like and behave like single characters, they actually consist of multiple characters. When you click a ligature, PopChar inserts the corresponding character sequence in the current document. Ligatures are used for many different purposes, not just for making certain combinations of letters more beautiful.

Alphabet layout

For example, Google's "Material Icons" font contains hundreds of icons that are associated with names as ligatures. For example, type "phone_iphone" and format that text with the Material Icons font and you get an iPhone icon.

How do you know which names are translated into which symbols? PopChar can tell you, and you can also use it to search for ligatures by their name, for example, to find all ligatures that have "phone" in their names.

Font preview

Get an impression of a selected font with the Font Preview and Sample Text features of PopChar.

font previewIn typesetting, one important task is to get a message across. Using the right font can help substantially to emphasize the meaning of text and deliver an enjoyable reading experience. PopChar helps you to evaluate fonts. Select the Font Preview or Sample Text views to see a font in action.

PopChar shows some typical characters and sample text fragments in the selected font to give you an impression of the font's properties.

font samplePopChar even highlights characters that are not available in a font, so you can immediately see whether a font has all the accents needed to correctly write "déjà vu", "Bœuf Stroganoff" or whether it contains the bullets and ligatures that you need for a certain text fragment.

You can select one from a few predefined filler texts (such as the famous "Lorem ipsum") or create your own text template that you want to see in a variety of fonts.

Font sheets

The Font Preview and Sample Text views can be printed to create beautiful font sheets with PopChar.

print font previewViewing fonts on the screen is perfect for making a quick choice or interactively finding characters in a font.

But when you want to see what a font will look like in print, there is no way around actually printing the font.

PopChar's font preview and sample text views allow you to create beautiful font sheets.

View PDF version


print font samplePrint them, use them in design discussions, collect them in a printed font catalog, or save them as PDF documents to show off a selected font.

You can even send a font sheet in PDF format to someone else who does not need to have the font installed, does not have PopChar, and maybe does not even have a Macintosh.

View PDF version

Font information

In addition to the characters inside fonts, PopChar can also display information about fonts. The Font Info view reveals background information like version number, properties, supported languages, copyright and license statements, information about the designer, manufacturer, vendor, number of characters and glyphs, and more.

The Font Info view is a valuable source of information for font aficionados. With PopChar, the font information is quickly accessible with a few clicks at any time.

font info

The text is selectable, so you can copy sections or all of it for further use.

The Font Info view also contains a clickable link that takes you directly to the storage location of the font file. This helps you to find a particular font, without hunting through many potential folders. And when multiple versions of a certain fonts exist, PopChar tells you exactly which of these versions is currently in use.

Custom sizes for individual fonts

custom sizes

Different fonts have different metrics. Whereas the characters of one font may appear large enough in PopChar's table, another font may have light and small characters with subtle details.

Use the slider at the bottom of the PopChar window to individually adjust the sizes of certain fonts.

In addition to this adjustment option, PopChar also knows about peculiarities of more than 600 fonts and automatically fine-tunes the display for many popular fonts.

Show pronunciations and meanings of Chinese characters

PopChar knows the Mandarin pronunciations of more than 40,000 and English descriptions of more than 20,000 Chinese characters. Point at a character to see these details at the bottom of the PopChar window.

You can also search for words in descriptions. For example, simply enter an English word in PopChar's search field to quickly find all Chinese characters whose descriptions contain that word.

Optimized font list

The font list to the left of the character table shows all globally available fonts, arranged by the font families. If a font family has multiple members (such as Regular, Bold, Italic), you can select the desired member from the pop-up menu beneath the list.

You can use the pop-up menu above the list to display only those fonts that belong to a certain font collection. PopChar lets you choose among all font collections that you define in the font panel of OS X or Font Book.

Whenever you insert a character from a font, PopChar adds that
font to the pop-up menu that contains the recently used fonts. You can control the number of fonts to be listed here in PopChar’s preferences.

If you have hundreds of fonts installed, you will appreciate the font filter: Enter part of a font name, such as "script", and PopChar shows all fonts whose names contain "script".

optimized font menu

PopChar remembers the current font setting separately for each application. For example, you can select Times as the font to be displayed when you work with Pages, and Monaco as the font to be shown in BBEdit.

Flexible user interface

The PopChar character table appears in a window that "floats" above all other application windows and can be placed anywhere on the screen.

Preference settings give you detailed control to adjust the behavior of the window to your liking.

You can leave the window open permanently until you dismiss it or make it disappear immediately after each use, depending on your personal working style and the size of your monitor.

PopChar X Preferences

If you prefer to keep the window open at all times, uncheck all options. To make the window as unobtrusive as possible, check all options.

You can also define a hotkey to open the PopChar window without having to move your hands off the keyboard.

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