Find Unicode Characters By Sketching their Shape

Do you remember the shape of a Unicode character but do not remember the number or font that included that symbol? Now you find that character by sketching its shape.

November 18, 2011
unicode character map

If you ever wish to insert special characters in your documents, tweets or your email signatures, the Character Map tool of Windows can help. You can access Character Map from either the Start Menu or by simply typing charmap in the Windows’ Run box.

Symbols like ☼ â™  ♫ ♪ are part of standard fonts – like the Unicode version of Arial – but since these characters aren’t normally available on keyboards, you can drag them from the Character Map and drop into your document or email.

All Unicode characters are assigned a unique number – like 20B9 for the Rupee – but numbers are difficult to remember and, except for this Wikipedia page,  there’s no easy way to search Unicode characters by names. How do you quickly find a symbol in the Character Map that resembles the shape of a heart or a music note or a small diamond?

Enter Shape Catcher – this is a simple drawing board where you draw a rough outline of any symbol that you have in mind using your mouse and the tool will find all the Unicode characters that match that shape. And the tool does work most of the times.

Once you have found the Unicode symbol you were looking for, you can either copy it to the clipboard or drag it directly into your emails and web pages. There are 10,000+ Unicode characters in the Shape Catcher database except for Chinese, Japanese or Korean glyphs.

[*] Please note that Dingbat fonts like Webdings and Wingdings offer a much larger collection of symbols but should be avoided as most browser won’t be able to render those symbols.