how do you do Umlauts in ubuntu 17.10? I need vowels with nipples!

I have a Think Pad T430

I can't find a 'compose' key under keyboards. I don't really know what 4th level means or where it is found, Google has let me down- I am bewildered.

  • What keyboard are you using (which language)? Would you be prepared to install another language and switch, when you need umlauts? – sudodus Oct 22 '17 at 18:23
  • If I used a German keyboard, why would I ever need to switch back to USA keyboard? – Leo Rivers Oct 24 '17 at 19:23
  • You can find compose key setting in either gnome-tweak-tool (easy to set) or dconf-editor (a little harder to set). – chaskes Oct 25 '17 at 15:55

Suggested method

If you use the US English keyboard with international symbols via AltGr, you can type umlauts without switching keyboard.

This works at least in the X session (maybe not in Wayland). The following command line works for me (in Ubuntu 17.10),

setxkbmap -rules evdev -model evdev -layout us -variant altgr-intl

When you use this keyboard setting 'as usual' you will have the usual mapping of the keys as illustrated by the first screenshot with an Onboard keyboard.

enter image description here

As you can see in the second screenshot with an Onboard keyboard, AltGr lets you type several special characters including the umlauts, that you want.

enter image description here

Alternative: Onboard and German keyboard

Using an Onboard keyboard it is also possible to switch temporarily to a German keyboard and see the layout (even if you use a US English physical keyboard). This might be more convenient if you want to type a lot in German, but if you type only a few random umlauts, the US English keyboard with international symbols via AltGr is probably the best choice.


See the following link for more details,


  • Thanks for all the help! Wow actually. Leo QUESTION ANSWERED! – Leo Rivers Oct 26 '17 at 23:52
  • @LeoRivers If you find this answer useful you may "accept" it by clicking on the tick mark (✓) next to it. – pomsky Nov 5 '17 at 11:24

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