Emacs has the insert-char feature: You press a key combination and get a menu containing all Unicode characters with search similar to dmenu and most DE's program launchers.

For example, to enter "∃" (THERE EXISTS), I type <Ctrl-x> 8 <Enter> exists <Enter>.

Is there something similar that works in all X11 programs?

  • 2
    You can use ibus with addon ibus-unicode-db , from github . Apr 10, 2018 at 1:07

2 Answers 2


I would think Autokey would do the job as described here. The idea is that Autokey is always running and can accept arbitrary strings as triggers.

As the post describes, you just need to set up Autokey to paste unicode characters and as a trigger it could accept something like /delta, which it then replaces with a δ.


My feeling is that this is out of the X11 scope, this is desktop environtment business.

For KDE, kcharselect is a tool to pick special characters, including search. It should fit your needs, if you put it on a global shortcut key like I did. Drawback: The chars get copied to the paste buffer, so you need one more keystroke to insert them.

  • Obviously I don't want such a tool to be part of the X server, but it should work in all graphical programs.
    – Nova
    May 31, 2017 at 9:08
  • @Eric Well, that's the case for kcharselect for all graphical programs that support the clipboard (which almost all do, I guess).
    – Philippos
    May 31, 2017 at 9:31
  • 1
    This is input method business. Input methods are mostly independent of desktop environments. May 31, 2017 at 22:37

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