How to use macrons for words in Te Reo Māori in gmail on my Mac? 6 Easy Steps


Have you figured out how to use Macrons yet?

Don Brash came to me in a dream the other night and told me that I needed to figure out how to use macrons on my computer when I’m writing words in Te Reo Māori.

Actually, I’m not sure it was Don Brash. But I did figure it out.

What are macrons?

Good question. A macron is a line above a vowel to show that it should be spoken as a long vowel. For example, the ‘a’ in Maori should really always be written as Māori.

The same goes with place names like Taupō, as in the image above.

Macrons change the meanings of words

The meanings of words change depending on whether the vowel is short or long. For example, “keke” means cake. But kēkē means armpit.

That’s an important distinction. And I’d be interested to know if this leads to puns in Te Reo (and possibly Dad jokes).

6 steps to follow to turn on macrons for Māori words

Here are the details if you’re an Apple Mac user:

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the top left and choose System Preferences.
  2. Click Language & Region.
  3. Click Keyboard Preferences.
  4. Click the + icon and find Maori in the list.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Optionally, tick Show input menu in menu bar.

After I tried this, the keyboard didn’t immediately work with macrons but started adding small circles above the vowels instead.

The problem was that I was defaulting to the Australian keyboard. I deleted the Australian keyboard from the list and fixed the problem. I’m guessing that I could have probably kept it and changed the order.

To type a macronised vowel now I simply hold down Alt / Option on my Mac and then the vowel. Or with with the Shift key to type an uppercase macronised vowel.

It’s a different procedure if you’re on a Windows PC and you can find full information for all operating systems here.

It works for everything

I wanted this for Gmail purposes, but it’s system-wide. That means that I’ve also solved the problem for typing in WordPress and in Google Docs. I had a workaround for Google Docs but this is a lot faster.

How do you get in the habit of using macrons?

I still need to get into the habit of using macrons. And I’ll probably forget a lot of the time. Also, I know there are plenty of words that use macrons that I’m unaware of.

So… here’s my strategy. I’m just going to pick a few that I use often and start with those.

  • Māori
  • Pākehā
  • Tāupo
  • Whānau
  • Kōrero
  • Mōrena
  • Tēnā koe
  • Kia ora kōrua
  • Ngā mihi

What words do you use often in Te Reo that have macrons?

I also wrote a short, easy-to-read ebook on concepts and approaches from Te Ao Māori and how you should embrace them in your work. The details are below.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

2 thoughts

  1. Thanks so much Graeme!
    This is just what I need, as I write some curriculum documents that include reference to the concepts of kaitiakitanga. Happy to add new words to your repository as I come across them.

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