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Now that I have switched to primarily using XeTeX, I find I do not use Detexify or the The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List to find symbols very much. However, I often still need to locate symbols. Frequently I find myself looking through character lists for individual fonts or browsing through dingbat collections On-line.

  • Is there a handwritten symbol recognition tool for Unicode?
  • Is there a search tool that helps find dingbats among the numerous available fonts?
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up vote 14 down vote accepted

For Linux, there are two nice character selectors, KCharSelect for KDE,

KCharSelect screenshot

and Gucharmap for GNOME,

Gucharmap screenshot

You can browse the various characters by script or Unicode block, or search by character description. Both programs are very nice, but personally, I prefer KCharSelect, as it has an incremental search bar which makes it faster to find the characters you need, and it displays all the information about a character, without you having to switch between the glyph ťab and the character information tab.

For Windows, you can use the built-in Character Map program, which supports Unicode in later versions of Windows:

enter image description here

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For recognising characters, Shapecatcher is very similar to Detexify, but for unicode. I think this is what you're looking for.

Tables of characters are still useful when broken down properly. For example, if you're looking for a table of dingbats, then you can get that. All things unicode can be found from unicode.org, surprisingly enough! This link will take you directly to the library of charts.

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Spacecatcher is awesome. Thanks! – eudoxos Nov 26 '11 at 11:23
@eudoxos: No problem! ;) – qubyte Nov 26 '11 at 20:12

Such tools may depend on your OS. On the Mac, there is something called the Character Viewer, which allows you to view all the Unicode characters either by character groupings or by code points. For any particular character, it will then display all of the fonts on your system that contain that particular character, and allows you to insert the character into an open document.

Character viewer

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It saddens me that Apple pretty much broke the wonderful character palette window in Lion :-(. For instance, there's no glyph view anymore, which makes it very difficult (if not impossible) to locate certain characters. – morbusg Nov 26 '11 at 9:35
On Mac OS X there's also a standalone application called UnicodeChecker. – egreg Nov 26 '11 at 10:31
@morbusg I don't have Lion on any of my machines, but this blog post seems to show a glyph view. – Alan Munn Nov 26 '11 at 16:39
@AlanMunn: ah, localization might have confused things here a little: on my finnish localized Leopard, I have an option inside the menu called “View” (in your picture above), called “Glyyfi”, which shows a font-specific view of the glyphs. That has been removed from Lion. – morbusg Nov 26 '11 at 16:51
@morbusg — I agree, it is really unfortunate. On the bright side, the Snow Leopard application actually runs fine under Lion. You can copy it from a 10.6 system. The path to the application is /System/Library/Input Methods/CharacterPalette.app – Todd Lehman Jan 15 '12 at 8:55

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