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Input Methods for Typing Characters and Pinyin


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[h2]Windows System[/h2]

[h3]Default MS Pinyin IME 3.0[/h3]

All Windows computers come with the capability for this, however, you may have to install it. To do this on Windows XP, follow these steps:

Go to the Start Menu, and click on Control Panel. If it's not there, it should be under Settings.

In the Control Panel Window, if it says "Pick a Category" in big letters, then click on 'Date, Time, Language and Regional Settings', then click on 'Regional and Language Options'.

If it does not show this, then click on 'Regional and Language Options'.

You should now have a dialog box that says 'Regional and Language Options' at the top, with three tabs - 'Regional Options', Languages and Advanced.

Click on the 'Languages' tab.

There should be an area down towards the bottom of the dialog box that says 'Supplemental language support'. If the 'Install files for East Asian Languages' box does not have a tick in it, select it, and click the 'apply' button in the lower right hand corner. This may require you to insert your Windows XP CD.

Once that's done, click on the 'Details' button, which is in the same dialog box.

That should bring up a new dialog box called 'Text Services and Input Languages'.

From here, click on the 'Add' button on the right hand side of the list, where the list will display whatever language + keyboard combination you are currently using.

You should now see yet another dialog box called 'Add Input Language'.

Click on the box which is not greyed out and currently shows a language (Mine shows English New Zealand, as that's the language of my operating system). Select Chinese (PRC).

This will automatically select Microsoft Pinyin IME 3.0. Select OK.

That will close the dialog box. Select apply. You should now see the language bar somewhere on your screen, in all likelihood, down in the bottom right hand corner, near the taskbar, or in the upper right hand corner of the screen. It will be a simple blue bar, which should have the letters 'EN' on it. It may also appear in the taskbar.

When you have found the language bar, open a new document somewhere (e.g. start -> run -> notepad) and select the EN on the language bar. Click on Chinese PRC. Congratulations! You can now type Chinese on your computer!

If any of the instructions above do not work, then please post on the forums and ask for help.

Note: Microsoft Pinyin IME 2003 doesn't work on Windows Vista.

[h3]Wubi[footnote]Related Threads[/footnote][/h3]

Previously, finding and installing a decent Wubi input method on Windows was not easy. Nowadays however there are several options to choose from.

Freewb (极点五笔) is an excellent and free Wubi IME that supports Wubi entry of both simplified and traditional characters. The main site is found here, and the download page is here.

Sogou has also released a Wubi IME. It can be downloaded here. The first edition doesn't seem to be as complete as the Freewb IME, and lacks support for entering traditional characters using Wubi character roots although traditional characters can be entered by switching the IME into traditional mode, and typing the simplified roots for the character. It is also missing some common word combinations such as 你好 and 但是, which more advanced users will find frustrating.

Other Wubi IMEs for windows include 新概念五笔 小鸭五笔.

[h3]Google's Pinyin Input[/h3]

Download Page

[h3]Pinyin Input[/h3]


[h2]Mac System[footnote]Note: All Macintosh's running OS X come pre-installed with both Traditional and Simplified Input Methods, however the pre-installed input methods are significantly inferior to many modern input methods.[/footnote][/h2]


QIM is for use on all Macintosh Systems running OS X. It can input both Simplified and Traditional Characters and switching between Simplified, Traditional, and Romanization is as simple as pushing one or two keys.


English Page


OpenVanilla is a text entry (input method) platform and a collection of popular input methods and text processing filters. It is designed to offer a better text entry experience and alternative input methods that are not found in Apple’s built-in set and better suit the needs of Windows “switchers.”

[h3]Biaoyin and Biauyin[/h3]

Biaoyin is a pinyin input for Simplified Characters and Biauyin is for Traditional Character input. These plug-ins to your pre-existing Input methods on Macintosh will allow you to type Pinyin with the tone marks. All you have to do is type in the pinyin with the tone (designated by a number) and it does the rest.

Both Plug-ins are available here

[h3]Fun Input Toy, FIT[/h3]

Fun Input Toy(FIT) is a neat open source Chinese input method, which is able to save you some bucks but still provide as many features as QIM under Macintosh OS. Fun Input Toy comes with pinyin, double pinyin, and wu bi zi xing styles of input.

[h2]Linux System[/h2]

[h3]Smart Common Input Method, SCIM[/h3]

SCIM is a general input method for UNIX-like systems, which has a good smart-pinyin based Chinese input method (traditional and simplified). It is integrated in many modern distributions and works with all modern GTK and KDE/Qt-based applications.

Edited by imron
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  • 1 year later...

I've never heard of IIMF, is this some new input method developed by RedHat and GNOME?

Do you have a link where I could read about its advantages as compared to SCIM?

EDIT: Found this. The last update seems to be from 2005.

We could add this to the wiki, but I personally don't know anyone who uses it, and don't know anything about setting it up either.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@ imron:

Which one would you recommend for use in Linux? IIIMF, SCIM, CLE [Chinese Linux Extensions: This was developed in Taiwan, but has input for both Simplified & Traditional Chinese] or others?

I had IIIMF in Redhat Fedora Core 3, but I couldn't find anything similar after upgrading to Fedora Core 9?

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