How to Use Alternate Glyphs in Photoshop Elements

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Photoshop Elements is my go-to design tool for all my prints.  And for the longest time, I was completely oblivious to the fact that all those alternate letter styles and swashes were available to use in Photoshop Elements. I would download and install all these amazing fonts and see all the “extra” stuff that came with them but was convinced that I could not access any of it because I didn’t use the full version of Photoshop. I didn’t know how to use alternate glyphs in Photoshop Elements.

Did you know you can use alternate glyphs in Photoshop Elements? This easy tutorial will show you how.


When you download and install a font, sometimes the fonts come with variations of letters and different types of swashes and flourishes that can add a lot of interest to your designs. Check out the example below. The font is Edelweis and it is popular for wedding invitations. The top version contains the basics. The bottom version contains swashes that are alternate glyphs. Personally, I like the bottom version better.


In Photoshop, you can access these variations through the alternative glyph drop down menu. Photoshop Elements does not have this menu so I was always under the (wrong) assumption that all this cool stuff just wasn’t available to me.

Guess what? Clearly, by the title of this post, you know that it is possible to access the alternate glyphs even if you are not using the full version of Photoshop.  I’m going to teach you how to do this on a PC.  I have Windows 10.  I do not know if this works on operating systems other than Windows 10. 

[clickToTweet tweet=”Learn how to use alternative glyphs in Photoshop Elements! #graphicdesign #PSE #adobe” quote=”Learn how to use alternative glyphs in Photoshop Elements! #graphicdesign #PSE #adobe”]

Ready? Create a new document in Photoshop Elements and add some text.  To access alternate glyphs, right click on the START menu and click SEARCH. In the search field, type “CHARACTER MAP”.  Click on the character map desktop app.

 The character map will pop up. Choose your font from the dropdown menu. Then scroll through the character map and choose the alternate glyph that you want to use. I chose to use alternates for the “s” and “e”

 Click on the character, click “select” and then click “copy”.

Next, go to your design and highlight the character that you want to replace.  Click CTRL-V and the selected character will be replaced with the alternate glyph. And magically, the top line of text turns into the bottom line.

OMG I am in heaven. It’s like a brand new world has opened up for me. My mind is just spinning with all the options that this has opened up! 


Did you know you can use alternate glyphs in Photoshop Elements? This easy tutorial will show you how.

Make sure to check out all of my Photoshop Elements tutorials here.


  1. Hello! I have elements and have purchased a few OTT fonts that are supposed to have alternatives. When I bring up the character map I just get the main font body but zero alternatives like the swashes and such. I get a ton of Chinese and punctuation and Arabic though… I doing something wrong? Have you ever come across this?

    1. Were you ever able to find the alternative characters? I had the same issue.

      If you want to use the Character Map, check the box for Advanced View. Then change the Group by to “Unicode Subrange.” A Group By box will appear on the right. Scroll to the bottom and select Private Use Characters. That’s where I have found alternative characters for OTT fonts I have purchased.

      If you don’t want to use the Character Map, you can also use Word to set up my text and use Insert > Symbol to see the alternative characters. Then when I get my text the way I want it, I will copy and paste it in the program I want to use it.

      1. Thank you! This was driving me crazy! When I downloaded these fancy fonts, I thought I would just download and type. I didn’t realize I would have to take a class to figure it out LOL

  2. I am so excited that you explained this. I have purchased some really great fonts and then discovered the glyphs… only to find that I could NOT access them with PE. Now, I can!! Thank you!!!

  3. Has anyone found a way to do this on a Mac? I’m like Kathryn above—I get the fonts because I love the glyphs, only to find I can’t access them.

    1. Hi Kay! To access the glyphs on a Mac, open Font Book via the Launchpad. Choose your font from the dropdown menu and switch to the display view so you can see all the glyphs. Select the glyph you want to use and copy and paste it into your design. Hope this helps.

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