How to Type Square Brackets ( [ ] ) on a Mac

How to Type Square Brackets ( [ ] ) on a Mac

Looking to insert [ and ] to make changes to quoted text or give a range of numbers? Find out here how to type square brackets on a Mac, even if you do not spot them initially on your keyboard.

First, Where to Put Your Bakery

One of the first big, factory-like bakeries (with large machinery and division of labor) in the city of Vienna was constructed near the end of the 18th century on top of a hill south of the city’s center.

The location was no accident.

For every morning, dozens upon dozens of heavy horse-drawn carts left the bakery stacked with bread and pastries. They had an easy (and achieved a fast) time going down the hill.

If you are now wondering whether the mills where on a mountain just south of the hill with flour going downhill at night: no, the horses drawing the flour carts were at a disadvantage.

Either way, typing square brackets is all downhill-easy on a Mac:

How to Type Square Brackets ( [ ] ) on a Mac

Using Windows? How to Type Square Brackets ( [ ] ) on Windows

Time needed: 1 minute

To insert square brackets on a Mac fast using the keyboard:

  1. Position the text cursor where you want to insert the brackets.

    Where: Use brackets to mark your insertions, elisions, or changes inside quoted text.

  2. Press, not too surprisingly, [ and ] respectively.

    Non-US keyboards: On Non-U.S. keyboard layouts, brackets are not quite so easy to find; see below for spotting and inserting them.

In Microsoft Word for Mac (and LaTeX), you can also use square brackets to create matrices and in other equations.

Find the Square Bracket Key Combination for Your Keyboard Layout

To discover which key combinations let you insert the square brackets with your Mac’s keyboard:

  1. Open Keyboard Viewer.
  2. Look for square brackets in the top left corner of keys; you can then reach them pressing Shift and these characters.
  3. Press the Option key.
  4. Look for brackets on keys or, again, in the top left corner; if they are in the corner, Option Shift and these keys are your ticket.

Examples of Square Brackets on International Keyboards

Here are a few examples for how diverse the placement of brackets can be on the keyboard:

  • On a Spanish keyboard, press Shift{ for [ and Shift} for ].
  • On a French keyboard, press OptionShift( for [ and OptionShift) for ].
  • Using a Japanese kana layout (not Romaji, which works like the U.S. keyboard for square brackets), press Command for [ and Command for ].
  • On a German keyboard, press Option 5 for [ and Option6 for ].
  • Using a Russian Cyrillic keyboard layout, press Shift] for [ and, well, ] for ].

Different type of squaring: How to Type “Squared” ( ² ) on a Mac

Insert Square Brackets Using Mac Character Viewer

You can also insert square brackets without so much as typing them, of course.

To input brackets with the Mac Character Viewer:

  1. Put the text insertion cursor where you want to insert the opening or closing square bracket.
  2. Select Edit | Emoji & Symbols from the menu.
    macOS keyboard shortcut: You can press Command Control Space, Fn E or 🌐︎ to open the emoji panel.
  3. Search for bracket.
    Category: In full Character Viewer, you can also open the Parentheses category, of course.
  4. Double-click the LEFT SQUARE BRACKET and RIGHT SQUERE BRACKET characters respectively to insert them.
    Emoji panel: Searching for bracket also works in the macOS emoji panel.
    Insert brackets using the macOS emoji panel

How to Type Square Brackets ( [ ] ) on a Mac: FAQ

Where should I use brackets?

Quoted Text and Phonetics

Use square brackets whenever you change something inside quoted text.
Examples: When you remove a portion, for example, insert […] in its stead; if your quote begins with “She said” and you want to explain who she is, replace “She” with [Mrs. Seacole] said.

Phonetic transcriptions are also usually between square brackets.
Example: bracket [brăk′ĭt].


Square brackets also find many a use in mathematics, of course. A few prominent occasions include:

  • Closed interval: Use square brackets to indicate a closed (inclusive) interval.
    Example: [1, 5] means all numbers ≥ 0 and ≤ 5.
  • Vector product: Square brackets can stand for the triple product.
    Example: [a⃗, b⃗, c⃗] is equivalent to (a⃗ ⨯ b⃗) · c⃗.
  • Matrices: Square brackets that extend beyond the line of text are used for matrices.

Does using Unicode work for typing brackets on a Mac?

Yes, you can add brackets anywhere in macOS using Unicode:

  1. Enable and turn on Unicode Hex Input on your Mac.
  2. Press and hold Option.
  3. Type 005B for [;
    type 005D for ].
  4. Let go of the Option key.

Can I copy and paste brackets?

Yes, sure. If there is no way locating brackets on your keyboard, you can easily copy them

left bracket [
right bracket ]

(How to type square brackets on a Mac tested with macOS Sonoma 14.3, Ventura 13.1 and Monterey 12.4; first published January 2022, last updated March 2024)

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