Get a Free program CatchChar to make a custom menu to insert your favorite Unicode characters in any Windows editor or edit box

March 19, 2013 (186)

in Software

Latest update: 1.6.5
(released on March 19, 2013, see Update News at the end for changes)

Why not use Windows Character Map program or On-screen Keyboards?

Well, those programs are good for finding character codes and looking at all the characters that are available. But when it comes to using them for entering in the editor, there are two problems. First, they show all the characters and selecting the character that you want takes quite some time. Second, doing copy/paste each time can be cumbersome.

CatchChar helps you make a custom menu to enter your favorite Unicode characters

See an example menu on the right. You can make this menu bigger with more characters, in multiple columns. But still, it will have only the Unicode characters that you use most often and will save your time entering them.

With CatchChar, you can enter your favorite unicode characters in any edit box on Windows easily. CatchChar is a popup menu utility that you can customize to put your often used special Unicode characters. This is faster than looking for special characters in an on screen keyboard or in Windows Charmap utility that requires an additional copy, paste operation.

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Download and install CatchChar. Then run it and it sits in the tray icon area. To bring up its menu, press the hot key combination Alt-Shift-C. Then select any character from the menu and it is inserted at the current position.

CatchChar menu starts with very few default characters. The idea is that you would like to add your own characters to it. Click on Settings. Enter a unicode character in “New Character” box and hit Add Character to add it to the menu. You can take help of Windows Charmap utility to enter the special character for the first time. In the new version, you can enter more than one character.

If you want to change the hot key combination Alt-Shift-C that brings up CatchChar menu, click on Settings, then Change Hot Key. Select a character other than C and hit OK.

Known problems: May not work correctly with some Windows XP systems where unicode is not installed properly.

Making a portable copy: If you want to carry catchchar on a portable drive to use on any computer, this is now possible in version 1.5 or later.

Please follow these steps: (Only if you want to carry CatchChar on a portable drive. Otherwise, please don’t use them for your regular desktop installation.)

  1. Install CatchChar to a desktop computer first. This will also update any existing copy of CarchChar.
  2. Copy catchchar.exe from the installed folder of the desktop computer to a folder on your portable drive.
  3. Rename the copied file to catchcharportable.exe. THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT.
  4. That’s it. Now you can run it from the portable folder and it will save any customizations to its own folder.
  5. If you have already customized the CatchChar popup menu on the desktop computer, please save your menu to a file from the Edit Menu screen before performing above steps. Then restore the menu file in the portable CatchChar.
  6. If you had customized the hot key for CatchChar on the desktop computer, you will need to redo it for the CatchChar on the portable drive.

Will work on DropBox ( too: The above modification makes it possible to run CatchChar even from a Dropbox folder so that your menu is always available on all the computers connected to the DropBox.


Version 1.6.5, Mar 19, 2013:

  • The starting message can now be switched off.
  • Tip is added on the Main screen on how to start with Windows. Basically, you can copy its shortcut from the desktop to the Startup folder on Start menu to do that.

Version 1.6.2, Dec 4, 2011: Recent changes broke the insertion into Microsoft Word 2010. Hence, I made some changes in the way CatchChar works. It is now working in all Office 2010 applications on my machine. For one user, it is still not working in MS Word 2010. I don’t know why. If you see the same problem, please write to me using the Contact form on this web site and give me the exact version of Windows and Microsoft Word that you use.

Version 1.6, Dec 1, 2011:

  • Earlier version didn’t work in some programs, such as, Thunderbird. This problem has been fixed. However, the position of the menu is always to the left in such programs due to technical limitations.
  • Works better with Notepad now that earlier didn’t accept some characters.
  • On some systems, the program gave an error message when the menu was edited. Fixed.
  • Now you can enter multiple characters in an item. This feature is just a sneak preview of things to come. If you see any problems, please let us know.
  • Check for Updates feature is now built into the program so that you can quickly check to see if a newer version is available.

Version 1.5, Aug 29, 2011: CatchChar now supports running from a portable folder as described above.

Version 1.2, Jan 14, 2011: This version fixes a problem in storing some unicode characters when the program is stopped and restarted.


CatchChar Puts Special Characters A Click Away: Typing special unicode characters is usually a pain, but CatchChar can make the process completely seamless.”
– Shep McAllister,

3 Applications To Supercharge CatchChar literally puts the Character Map at your fingertips. It’s my favorite application for this purpose.”
–Craig Snyder,

“CatchChar provides a simple and much needed functionality: a fast and efficient method for adding special characters. The application is easily customizable, unobtrusive and best of all, Free!”
– Editor’s comments,