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Computers in Europe Are Different

I find the computers in Europe are somewhat different from the USA. In Berlin, I tried to use the computer in the hotel lobby. They didn't even charge for using it. This was my first time using a computer in Europe. The problem was, the "@" is on the "2" key in the USA. Their "@" was on the "Q" key. I clicked on the American flag at the bottom of the right hand side. I couldn't get an email to anyone because even if I pressed Q, or number 2, I couldn't get "@" and I was frustrated. The front desk is usually helpful, but at the time I was at the computer, only one person was at the desk and too busy to help me. Do you not press the shift key like we do here? Any thoughts of what I could have done wrong? I would love your help on this! I want to use an internet cafe in Milan if there is not a computer in my hotel. I hope to know what I'm doing next time. Please excuse my ignorance!

Posted by
463 posts

I believe this is correct - on German keyboards you press the "Alt Gr" key and the Q and on Italian you press the "Alt Gr" and the key with Ç ò (next to the L). The "Alt Gr" key is on the right hand side of the keyboard.

Posted by
4555 posts

Leslie is correct. On most European language keyboards, there is a special ALT-GR key, almost like another FN key, to use a third set of characters that may be available. As Leslie mentions, in Italy, the @ will be the key next to the L....you may see the @ (and some other symbols) labelled in blue...for these you use the ALT-GR key. Otherwise, it should be the normal QUERTY keyboard you're used to. Be thankful you're not using an "AZERTY" keyboard in France! You can familiarize yourself with the layouts at http://tinyurl.com/d5nhz

Posted by
582 posts

Wow, thank you! I knew I could get good answers here!

Posted by
19022 posts

Yes, you use the key with the Q to get the @ sign. Some information about the German keyboards here. I have used German keyboards in Germany. I always managed to make them works. On the other hand, when I could use my own computer on Wifi, it was much handier.

The big difference on the German keyboard is that the Y and Z are interchanged. Drives me crayz.

Posted by
805 posts

The really big differnce is the French keyboard. It's almost entirely differently laid out than the American keyboard. Whereas I could use the Italian version with little problem, I (someone who can type 80-90 wpm) was reduced to hunting and pecking on the French version.

Posted by
11507 posts

ah,, bad memeory flashback,, or should I say suppressed bad memory flash back!! LOL

My daughter and I hated computers in Europe, on our tour since we passed through different countries we could never figure out kepboard differences , and they kept changing!!

In one hotel the computer was coin operated, we paid one euro for 12 minutes( and I only had the one coin) and by the time we found the underscore my daughter needed for her online name to register for her IM we ran out of time for the message,, that was comical if it was so frustrating...

I had always assumed computer keyboards would be standarized, except I guess I knew a french keyboard would have to accent keys.

Posted by
495 posts

"I had always assumed computer keyboards would be standarized, except I guess I knew a french keyboard would have to accent keys."

The QWERTY layout was designed in the manual typewriter days to separate commonly used letters and reduce the chance of the typebars clashing and jamming to machine. Obviously different languages have different distributions of letter frequency so the necessary separations are different.

Keyboards aren't even standard across the English language world; UK and US keyboards use the same QWERTY layout for letters but special and punctuation characters are in different places. The most obvious differences are the transposition of the '"' and '@' keys and the US version's lack of a '£' key.

Posted by
8293 posts

I seem to remember someone posting once that one needs to ask for a "qwerty keyboard" at internet cafés and such locations, if you are used to an English language keyboard.

Posted by
4555 posts

You're lucky Kim. In Ireland, their QWERTY keyboard is almost exactly the same as in the U-S. In Greek internet cafes, where they don't have the Greek alphabet layout, they have British or American QWERTY keyboards styles available.

Posted by
32152 posts

I've found subtle differences in Keyboard layout in most European countries, but most haven't been too difficult to adapt to. Once I figure out where the special characters are located, I can usually operate almost as fast as on my computer at home.

However I have to agree with David, the French Keyboards were the most difficult to use and I never did become "comfortable" with them.

I've encountered a few Net Cafes that provide "US style" Keyboards as they do a lot of business with tourists. That certainly makes things a lot easier!

Posted by
2297 posts

Human beings are creatures of habit. I actually learned how to type with 10 fingers on a German keyboard many decades ago. It was quite a struggle to get myself used to the American keyboard (z-y) and I missed the Umlaute for any correspondence in German. On my laptop I don't even have the option of using ASCII with the number pad.

And these days? After years of working on American keyboards I can't type on a German one anymore. I could use Umlaute when in Germany and I simply don't because it's too difficult for me to change when I'm there for just a few days. And every time I arrive I have to start the hunt for the @ since I've already forgotten since the last time ...

Posted by
582 posts

Hi Kim! How right you are, and I thought about this when I was at the computer in Berlin. My problem with sending email, I didn't have email address in my address book because before I left, I had a brand new internet server and I didn't get a chance to make up an address book. If I had time to do that, I wouldn't have had that problem. You brought up a good point. I should not have a problem in Italy since I do have all my email address in my address book now.
I am sure excited about my trip!