Every so often you notice a brand new feature in an old tool and wonder where it’s been all these years. One of these was the Unicode Character decoder in the built in Mac calculator. (I’m not the first to notice, but the last reference I found was from 2004, when the latest OS X was 10.3 (Panther).
If you open the Calculator app (it’s in your Applications folder), you can switch over to the Programmer view (Command-3 or View » Programmer) which is where you can convert between decimal and hexadecimal number using the tabs at the right.
On the left though there is an ASCII/Unicode tab. This shows the characte corresponding to whatever number you’ve entered. For instance hex x562 (or 1378 in decimal) is an Armenian character բ (Armenian Small Letter Ben).
I have to confess that I wish it could do the reverse – you paste a character and it shows the Unicode code point, but this is good for testing odd character references you may find in a source file.
However a student in a recent seminar pointed out a site which does convert a character to a decimal code reference at http://www-atm.physics.ox.ac.uk/user/iwi/charmap.html (from Alan Iwi at the Rutherford Lab at Oxford). Just enter or paste the character and click the the Make HTML button to see a decimal entity code.
Although I don’t generally recommend entity codes, there are times when your environment is so antique you need to convert some text into entity codes.