Jan 16

One of the reasons why I decided to start actually blogging on my domain was to document my learning of the innards of my Mac and IPhone. Having had a Mac for a few years now I have used it for organising my music, photographs, e-mails etc. I have never tried to dig under the covers too far, mainly due to never having had to. Inspired by the desire to satisfy my geek tendencies I thought I should teach myself a little more about what is going on under the surface.

Therefore, despite the devastation it wreaks upon my Amazon recommendations list (“No I am not interested in buying any of those 150 books on IT! Where did you hide the literature I want to read? Oh well actually maybe I do want…”), I ordered myself a copy of Sams Teach Yourself iPhone Application Development.

Sams Teach Yourself iPhone Application Development Book Cover

Sams Teach Yourself iPhone Application Development

So today I sat down to read the book and start to see how the whole shebang works. As with the best types of these books it begins with a series of chapters to get you set-up correctly and give you a “led by the hand” walkthrough of the tools you are going to need, things to you need to set-up and things that are best left to worry about later because you haven’t a snowballs chance in hell of understanding that particular weirdness.

So far so good. I have my iPhone all set up for developing on. I have the XCode development environment and iPhone SDK installed. I’m feeling smug. Having done development in the Microsoft world, things are not too scary. I can see the analogies between the two worlds. You say pohtahtoh etc. Things are going ok.

Then I hit a brick wall.

I’m stuck.

I don’t know what to do.

The instructions tell me to do something but I can find no way to do it. The instructions have failed me. This is not some moral dilemma. The instructions are not asking me to betray some strongly held tenet of belief. They want me to do something simple and as far as I can see all the other kids are indeed doing it.

The book taunts me with its request. It wants me to press #. Yes it wants a hash. A US pound. A musical sharp symbol. That’s what it needs for me to continue and I’m failing it. I can’t do it. I have no idea how. This is 3rd year French all over again.

Now I’ve typed # many times. Damn it I play music, I’ve written a lot of C# code in my time. I’ve created a lot of temporary tables. I know how to press the hash key. Except it isn’t there. There is no hash anywhere on my Mac’s keyboard.

My Mac's Keyboard and not a # in sight

My Mac's Keyboard and not a # in sight

Now I don’t have a defective keyboard. It turns out that in their infinite wisdom Apple decided that those of receiving UK Macs would not need to worry about the #. We can have our £ sign on the 3 key where they put the # in the US. I mean why would we want it?

So after some mashing of keys I finally managed to get the hash to appear on screen.

You press the “Alt” key and 3 together and the hash appears.

Now this might perhaps have been more swiftly accomplished if they HAD PUT THE HASH ON THE KEY. They seemed to manage to put a Euro symbol € next to the @ above the 2 key quite happily. I should be careful though. I believe “Alt” and 5 opens the portal to Narnia and I’ve had enough snow for a while.

23 Responses to “Hash (#) symbol on a UK Mac”

  1. Debra White Says:

    Not on mine, it doesn’t. Third time I’ve looked this up today, since all previous posts gave me incorrect info. I love my MBP but sometimes it’s very annoying! Thanks for the post, though 🙂

  2. Alan Says:

    Interesting. Since writing the article I have found another useful tool.

    If you go to System preferences > Keyboard and then go to the Keyboard section of that window there is a check box titled “Show Keyboard & Character Viewer in menu bar”

    Once checked it will add an icon into the top right of your screen which then gives you the option to see the Keyboard Viewer

    This handy little tool shows you the layout of your keyboard. What is great about it is that when you press a key like alt or shift the keyboard display changes to show you what the buttons will do when pressed.

    So when I click “alt” on mine the 3 changes into a # symbol.

    I would guess that your keyboard setup is somehow different. The title of my keyboard is “British”. Perhaps yours has somehow been changed to another region where the hash does not appear behind the “3”?

  3. Mark Says:

    I’m at uni trying to use a Mac to do some work. I’m a music student, so the hash/sharp key is pretty important for me. Where is it? How do I get one? Neither of the things mentioned above worked.

    I find Macs intensely irritating. Nothing is where it should be, I hate the interface, they crash all the time. Give me a PC any day.

  4. Matt Says:

    On my macbook pro, which is set to Australia, but bought in the UK, if you push the SHIFT key and 3 you will get the # symbol.

    By the way, perhaps you need to look at what software you are running if your mac is crashing all the time Mark. I personally find macs far more stable than PC’s.

  5. Vanessa Hubbard Says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this. It has been bugging me for ages, and I googled it today, your blog came up first, and voila – Alt 3 – #. Amazing, stupendous, magnificent.


  6. KathrynCubes Says:

    Thanks so much for this, I’d have never worked that out! It’s not very in keeping with the intuitive set up we’ve come to know and love from Apple. Tut tut.

  7. Cornelia poole Says:


  8. Abby Says:

    In case this is relevant to anyone, I’ve just realised that the hash symbol’s not exactly the same as the musical sharp symbol – they’re # and ? respectively (but whether you’d get penalised for using them interchangeably, I don’t know).

    If only D#m were a less painful chord to swap D?m with.

  9. Caediel Says:

    Hi on a similar subject I was setting up Itunes and it was asking for my user name so everytime I try to enter the @ symbol it keeps entering the Euro symbol insted now it does it everywhere??? I can’t do a @ sign anymore i’m so annoyed it seems to have disappeared! They are both on the 2 button bgut I can’t get it to do @ anymore. Any ideas anyeone PLEASE!!! : (

  10. Alan Says:

    Sounds to me like you might have swapped your keyboard settings to a setting other than what you have (e.g. To US when you have UK or vice-versa).

    You can change this in system preferences. If you’re getting the euro symbol maybe you’ve switched to a European keyboard? I think in Sweden etc. that their @ symbol is hiding behind the “a” key.

  11. Steph Pennells Says:

    Thanks. I’ve whipped out an OHP pen and written it on. Sometimes tattifying a modern cool bit of junk that has a weakness really helps establish who wears the trousers even if the blmachine controls the life! (Mind you at least it’s not a blPC!) I didn’t have these problems on my dear old Acorn!

  12. Fernando Loizides Says:

    You can also try ctrl +alt + 3 to get the # key if you are on British keyboard and the other combos don’t work.

  13. George Brough Says:

    Thank you, I’ve been copying and pasting # for far too long. Twitter lifesaver.

  14. Stephen Gavin Says:

    A very helpful post! It’s maddening that such a useful symbol is hidden away.

    But aren’t other mac ‘shortcuts’ strange; like ‘printing the screen’: Press the Apple key ? + Shift + 3 all at the same time…

  15. emily Says:

    finally! SHIFT + 3 worked on mine..THANKSYOU!!

  16. Paul Howe Says:

    Thank you so much. I needed it to get to some of my porn sites and I would be unable to send random abuse to strangers otherwise

  17. Steve Laycock Says:

    I run windows as a “virtual machine” on my imac. all the above combos work if I am using the mac but if using my virtual machine no combination I could imagine works? Any ideas anyone?

  18. swetha Says:

    Thanks it worked for me .
    I am using macbook pro

  19. Anon Weirdo Says:

    Hahaha Omg. “I should be careful though. I believe “Alt” and 5 opens the portal to Narnia and I’ve had enough snow for a while.”

  20. Dennis CTID Says:

    THank Yooooooooooooooo 🙂

  21. Bill Says:

    None of the key strokes above get me a Hash sign. Mines a 2012 MBP with UK keyboard. AN

  22. dunMiEdIn! Says:

    thanks for posting this. I was another of the many people that find using a mac frustrating and as I am trying to learn python needed the hashtag #######

    I have also located the option to add the “Show Keyboard & Character Viewer in menu bar” to the toolbar that you mentioned and it works a treat so I can use that for when I need to work out location of any others.

  23. HASH KEY Says:


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