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I just found out that an upper case "ß" was added to German a few years ago. I can't find a way to enter this character using the Windows 10 US International keyboard. I can copy (e.g., from Wiktionary) and paste the character, but I'm looking for a keyboard entry mechanism. Wikipedia says

on some keyboards with US-International (or local 'extended') setting, the symbol is created using AltGr-s (or Ctrl-Alt-s) in Microsoft Windows

but Ctrl-Alt-s just produce a lower case ß for me, not an upper case one. (Shift-Alt-s yields "§", so that's not the solution.)

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  • You don't need that character. The ß is a ligature made explictely from the small letters ſ and s. There is no capital ſ and there shouldn't be a capital ß either. In caps, write SS.
    – Janka
    Mar 2, 2023 at 7:00
  • To be more specific, there are no words in German which start with ß. (At least if there is one I've never seen it. So there's little reason to use a capital version. The only use I can think of is when using ALL CAPS (this shown in the Wikipedia article). This is a very rare and specific situation so most people, even German speakers, don't need to do this.
    – RDBury
    Mar 2, 2023 at 7:58
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    @tofro: the link in my comment leads to a simulator for the "US International" layout (which is a very special layout on an ISO-style keyboard with large Enter key and AltGr, based on US layout, but with extra international characters). In US international layout, AltGr+Shift+s yields the § sign.
    – HalvarF
    Mar 2, 2023 at 12:58
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    @HalvarF Now, that's interesting. The German Windows style guide says "On 29th June 2017, the capital ẞ (ß – ẞ) has become an official letter in German orthography. It can be used to replace the capital “SS” in words that are written in capital letters and use the “SS” as a replacement for the capital ẞ. Example: STRASSE – STRAẞE Windows keyboard shortcut for capital ẞ: Shift + Alt Gr + ß." Apparently, document and code are not aligned. The "Alt+NumPad" alternative should work, however.
    – tofro
    Mar 2, 2023 at 13:06
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    @KnowItAllWannabe German passports (or other official documents) transliterate the upper-case "ß" as "SS" just as described above (backed by an official directive) . I've not heard anything that there are intentions to change this with the "new" character.
    – tofro
    Mar 3, 2023 at 8:19

2 Answers 2

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The comments already pointed out that the "ẞ"-character (upper-case "ß") is practically not needed in German writing, or only in very rare cases (all-uppercase writing, for example - there is no word in German that starts with an ß and would thus need that character). It was only introduced to the language in 2007, more for completeness than an actual need. The uptake of that new character has thus been neglectable. The vast majority of native writers would still transcribe the upper-case "ß" as "SS" or, more rarely, "SZ" - In fact, I have never seen that character in public writing other than when writing about the fact itself. Maybe for the one reason that in most fonts, "ẞ" and "ß" are very hard to distinguish, the other: it's hard to find the correct keys to get to it, as you have found.

And just to completely answer your question: On a typical Windows system, ẞ can be input by pressing <Shift><AltGr>"s", on keyboards that lack the AltGr key, or old programs that simply don't get it, you need to hold <ALT> and type "7838" on the number pad, then release <ALT>. On computers like laptops, that may lack both the AltGr key and the number pad, you can use the Character Map application to generate the glyph (you can find ẞ there by selecting "all" in the "Group by" selector and about two thirds down in the list of characters).

And for completeness: MacOS does know the character, but has no way to input it with the standard keyboard drivers. You need to activate the Unicode input method keyboard driver (in System Settings), that will allow you to input that character by pressing and holding "Alt", then typing "1e9e", then release Alt.

Most modern Linux systems allow you to type ẞ by activating <CapsLock>, then pressing "ß", or, on international keyboards, pressing <Ctrl><Alt>U, then "1e9e", then <Space>

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  • Yep, my name contains the ligature and the only place where you could use the upper-case variant is when you are asked to spell out your name in capital letters. The problem is that many IT systems already don't deal well with the lower-case ligature (cough, Amazon and DHL, cough). As a result, I often transcribe ß --> ss and have never used upper-case ß.
    – user6495
    Mar 2, 2023 at 9:37
  • On my US International keyboard (using the US version of Windows 10), <Alt> 7838 generates ₧, not ẞ. Mar 3, 2023 at 0:46
  • @KnowItAllWannabe That's what happens on my system with Notepad (and Edge, as another example) as well - MS Word OTOH, understands it and properly shows a "ẞ". Some applications simply don't get it yet.
    – tofro
    Mar 3, 2023 at 8:11
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In addition to the answer from @tofro, which deals with the more technical aspects, here is why a capitalized "ß" is rather unnecessary from a typographical POV:

As @Janka in his comment already pointed out "ß" is a ligature. Blackletter variants ("Fraktur") were the most common typefaces for books up to the middle of the 20th century (in fact the Nazis prohibited its use 1941 by the "Bormann-Erlaß"). In blackletter are two forms of the simple "s": "ſ" and "s". Within syllables one used one, at the end of a syllable the other. This way one could clarify words like "Kreischen", which can be read two ways:

Kreis-chen (circlet, Diminutiv of "Kreis", use "s")
krei-schen (to screech, to scream, use "ſ")

The ligature was - like any other ligature - invented for cases where the two forms came together, because using single types would look bad (the same reasoning as for other ligatures, see also kerning). "ß" is a "ſ" followed by an "s". Notice, that ligatures in general (in German, I don't know about other languages) are exclusively used within morphemes. The "ß" is no exception from that rule. For instance, there is a (not commonly used any more) ligature "f-l":

Kau-fläche (ligature to be used) Kauf-leute (ligature not to be used)

also:

Muße (leisure), but:
Mus-[line break]
se

The german "ß" takes a special position within these ligatures, as it is perceived not so much as a ligature at all but as a separate letter. It is treated as a distinct character in the german alphabet.

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    While I mostly agree, I have difficulties to recognize how this relates to the question in its current form.
    – guidot
    Mar 2, 2023 at 11:11
  • "ß" is never split at a line break. It either belongs to the preceding syllable ("Gieß-kanne") or to the following one ("gie-ßen"). This holds for both the traditional and the reformed orthography.
    – Uwe
    Mar 2, 2023 at 12:28
  • "ß" is a "ſ" followed by "z", not "s". Lowercase "z" in Fraktur is similar to "3".
    – RalfFriedl
    Mar 2, 2023 at 22:11

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