Ever wonder how to input Chinese characters into your computer? There are actually several methods for Chinese input, but I want to focus on what I personally find to be the fastest and most widely-used method: Pinyin.
Don’t know pinyin? Learn pinyin on your iPhone
Note: This post has been updated for Mac OS X Yosemite. If you’re running an older version of Mac OS X, you can find the old post here.
Adding Chinese Pinyin Input Methods
First, open your System Preferences from the Apple menu.
Then, select Language & Region
Click the + button under the Preferred languages list.
Find 简体中文 － Chinese, Simplified and 繁體中文 － Chinese, Traditional in the list that pops up. Select the one you prefer to use then click Add. You can repeat these last couple steps to add both Simplified and Traditional Chinese input methods if you’d like.
After you’ve added your preferred method(s), you will see your preferred input methods in the list on the left.
Select Keyboard Preferences… near the bottom of the window.
Make sure Show Input menu in menu bar is checked (near the bottom of the window) so you can see which input method is currently selected by looking at the menu bar.
Switching between input methods
Tapping on said menu bar item will reveal the input menu. You can switch back and forth between input methods by selecting the method of choice here.
Using keyboard shortcuts to switch between input methods
If you’re like me, you don’t like taking your hands off the keyboard while typing. And, when typing, you’ll often need to switch between English and Chinese. So, let’s set up keyboard shortcuts to quickly switch between English and Chinese Pinyin input methods.
In the same Keyboard Preferences window, select the Shortcuts tab. Then, select Input Sources in the left column. This will reveal the the option for Select the previous input source. Clicking near the right edge of this row will highlight the current shortcut. When highlighted, hold the control key down and press the spacebar. Afterwards, you should see that the shortcut has been set to ^Space.
From this point on, you can type control-space to toggle between input methods. You can also hold the control key down and tap space (without letting go of the control key!) to reveal a handle input selector.
Note: on Mac OS X Yosemite, the input selector will only appear when using the “Select the previous input source” option and does not appear for the “Select next input source” option.
Give typing in Chinese a try
Now that you’re all set up, open up your favorite text editor and try typing Chinese!
That’s all there is to it!
If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it! Also, let me know if you have any questions.