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MacPinyin -- Pinyinput for Mac


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Mac users are missing Imron's excellent Pinyinput. While pīnyīn tone marks can be typed-in using U.S. Extended keyboard shortcuts, I thought having a proper pīnyīn input method would be a nice addition.

And so we have MacPinyin, version 1.00. :D For now please download it from here since the forum doesn't seem to accept .dmg files as attachments.

Due to limitations with OS X input method framework, MacPinyin isn't as flexible as Pinyinput, but still very easy to use. Hopefully you'll find it useful.

I just got inspired to write MacPinyin last night, and it probably has bugs, so any feedback greatly appreciated. MacPinyin is 100% free, under BSD-like licensing.

From the ReadMe file:

MacPinyin makes it easy to type pīnyīn with tone marks.

MacPinyin is an input method, and after installation it can be activated from System Preferences -> International -> Input Menu.

Once activated, simply type valid pīnyīn syllables, followed by a tone number, such as wo3 or ai4. Separate syllables with the key.

Notes and limitations:

- MacPinyin always outputs lowercase characters.

- Use v for ü. E.g., nv3 for nǚ.

- Neutral tone may be denoted as tone 5 (or simply left out.)

- Use instead of after punctuations or non-pinyin words

- Invalid pīnyīn gets discarded

There is no special support for apostrophes or érhuà, but they can be easily typed in.


- hǎo (hao3)

- péngyou (peng2you

- hello (hello)

- xī'ān (xi1'an1)

- nàr (na4r)

System Requirements:

- MacPinyin requires OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later.

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So basically the difference between this program and the pinyin input that OS-X provides is that with Pinyinput For Mac you can add the tone next to pinyin?

Oh, and another thing. Does anyone have any experiences with Pingguo Dictionary Pinyin 1.0, CEDICT 1.2 or QIM 1.6.5 1B022? Are they worth getting?

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Unlike using the built-in "U.S. Extended" Alt-codes, MacPinyin automatically places tone marks above the correct "vowel", per proper pinyin rules.

E.g., for shǒu biǎo (wrist watch) the first mark is above the "o" but the second mark should be above the "a". Properly marking the correct tones with the Alt-codes is tedious and error-prone.

Another benefit is not having to use "U.S. Extended" if not needed for something else. Some programs don't work well with this keyboard, plus you lose the ability to easily type in symbols like π (pi).

MacPinyin also rejects bad pinyin so you can be confident of the output. An example would be wóng (a common Cantonese surname), which in pinyin should probably be wáng (王) or huáng (黄). Of course you actually can write wóng using MacPinyin if you really want to, like I just did.

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Btw peekay, since we're discussing pinyin inputs... When in typing simplified/traditional characters mode, is there a way to quickly insert this type of comma 、 ?

For the regular comma ( , ) there's no problem, but for (、) I always have to access "Show Punctuation" first and then select it.

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I'm not sure what's the best way, but I made a shortcut using the User Dictionary.

Here's how to set it up for Simplified:

  1. Switch to the Simplified input method (ITABC)
  2. Press Alt-Shift-T to edit the User Dictionary (or select from menu)
  3. In the "Input New Word" field, enter the dùnhào comma (、)
  4. In the "Input Code", enter a short code (I use 'c' for comma)
  5. Click Add

Now you can quickly type uc to input this comma. (Notice the "u" before whatever the short code you've chosen in step 4.)

You can similarly setup Traditional, except use option-u (instead of just "u") for the shortcut prefix.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I'm sorry you're having problems with your Mac Chinese input methods. I normally type only in simplified characters but I enabled traditional to try it on my Mac to see if I have the same problem. I don't. It works fine for me.

Here is the punctuation output for both simplified (ITABC) and traditional Chinese (pinyin input method).

我两、三天没吃饭了。(And I'm pretty hungry, I must say!)


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  • 4 weeks later...

hi peekay:

i loaded macpinyin and it all seemed to go well: the name appeared in the international menu. but when I transferred to Word it greyed out and wasn't accessible any more. I'm on Leopard v10.5.7 but with an old version of Word (version X: I think it dates from about 1993).

Any suggestions?

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Unfortunately Word X is not a full "Unicode" application so it can't handle Unicode-based input methods like Pinyinput. (Word 2004 is the earliest version with full Unicode support.)

I don't have a copy of Word X to test, but it might be possible to first enter pinyin on TextEdit, then copy-paste to Word X if needed. Not an ideal solution to be sure but if it works that might still be useful when typing long pinyin phrases.

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I have an off-topic question: is there any such thing as the Zhong Wen add-on (when you move your mouse over Chinese characters, it will display their meaning) for SAFARI? :)

I love that Firefox add-on, but have decided recently to switch to Safari due to it being faster than FF... the only thing I really miss from FF at the moment is that Zhong Wen add-on...:-?

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