Typing chinese with Mac

WOW! I did it. Got a macbook and it’s a completely different experience from Windows. Been futzing with it for 2 days now and kinda sorta know the basics. The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to type using be pe me fe. Anyone care to explain how to get the “language bar” up and running? I’ve been combing through the Mac 101 sight and haven’t come across it yet.

Re: my external hard drive panic… I was able to get all my files onto my mac without any problems. They all work etc… just can’t save anything from my Mac to it now. But the guys at Apple said they would re-format it for me so it works on a PC and my mac. Went to the huge (new?) Apple store on Bade Section 1. VERY busy but a very nice staff and 3 out of 4 of the sales guys spoke English very well.

Chinese input was one of the slightly annoying things in OS X for me. I liked to type in traditional Chinese using Hanyu pinyin without having to enter the tone numbers. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a particularly easy way to do it like in Windows. First, to add these modules, you have to go to System Preferences->International->Input Menu.

Your options:

  1. Use the Hanin module. At first, it’ll be in zhuyin. Go to Preferences->Modes->Zhuyin and change that to Roman and change Display to Roman character. You can now enter Chinese using Hanyu pinyin, but you must enter the tone number after each character.

  2. Download and install Open Vanilla. You can set the input mode to Pinyin (simplified Chinese) and the output mode to Simplified Chinese to Traditional Chinese. Now you can type in Hanyu pinyin without having to enter the tone, but it’ll be simplified Chinese in the little IME box and it will turn to Traditional Chinese when you select the character.

  3. Write in simplified Chinese.

  4. Don’t bother using the Pinyin module. You cannot type more than one character at a time, which slows you down way too much.

Right, Chinese IME is one of OS X’s rather weak points. So usually I prefer to write Chinese on a Linux machine. If they cared to improve their IME one day (OK, they already did a little bit since 10.2, but not much.) they might actually gain a slightly larger market share here in Taiwan. No matter how nice a computer and its OS may be, not being able to smoothly write text in your native language is rather annoying in 2007…

Btw: Thanks for mentioning OpenVanilla, alidarbac, I didn’t know that one. Someone had suggested SpaceChewing to me a few years ago, but it looks like that project died.


Wow, a gathering of the few who are actually trying to type in Chinese in OSX using that POS IME Apple should be embarassed to even include. Luckily, there’s a solution, but unfortunately it’s not free ($20 I think): QIM. Openvanilla didn’t work for me on various levels, but QIM is fast, configurable (I like my candidate characters nice and huge), and learns from your input. It’s not as good at guessing correctly for longer sentences as the Windows IME but it’s decent. I think you can add your own dictionary too but I haven’t tried yet (edit: found a bunch of dictionaries on their forum here: http://www.sinomac.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=14470&forum=24 . This is a pinyin only IME, btw, so our zhuyin symbols on the Macbook Keyboard are worthless.


They have a demo, check it out first and see if it works for you.

actually, i just went to up to the little flag thingy next to the clock and changed it to “hanin” and then i’m able to type using be pe me fe.

glad you found it bushi. my wife types BPMF on my macbook all the time, no problem.

also don’t forget the simple “apple-key plus space bar” combination to toggle between two last chosen input modes. very easy to switch from european to BPMF input on the fly.

thanks for that… :slight_smile:

I should have another Mac meeting soon. More and more people are switching over. If anyone is interested drop me a PM.

Maybe I am misunderstanding the other posters, but you certainly can type in Pinyin with traditional characters without inputing tones on a Mac. Choose “Pinyin”. Problem is that it’s just one character at a time. I never thought Mac would make me miss Windows’ horrible input system. It does. I do.

Also, sometimes it types a question mark when I choose a character! And I try again and it does it again. Just for certain characters. Anyone else have this problem?

Have you tried a different font? I sometimes have that problem on Windows if the font was designed for simplified Chinese or the character is an obscure one that the font doesn’t have (people’s names tend to have this problem).

Sorry, I don’t really understand your meaning. I’m typing. I never choose a font in any language when typing, unless in a Word document or something. Anyway, I am just typing stuff on web pages and email. That was yesterday; today some things I tried to type are doing better, so I’ll have to have to go back to some of the web pages I was posting on yesterday and see what happens.

I also get occasional ?s when viewing web pages in either trad or simp.

Japanese types fine on the Mac. Korean even has a romanized input method. God bless them Romans!

Can anyone tell me if there is a quick way to shift between a number of different languages/input methods on the Mac the way you can with Windows? What I mean is this: on Windows I had these keyboard shortcuts
English (GI Joe) – control shift 1
trad Chinese – control shift 2
simp Chinese – control shift 3
Japanese – control shift 4
Korea – control shift 5
This mousing around business with a pull down menu up top on the Mac has already gotten old.


PS I am beginning to think that Mac is not so much a computer as a religion. Anyone?

It’s because your font does not have those characters or poerhpas they are there but under a different ASCII code. Try changing fonts. You may also find that it happens in some applications and not others, like Safari vs Word differences. MingPingLiu seems to have most characters.

Thanks, but again, I have no idea what you are talking about. The only time I have ever chosen a font in countless thousands of hours of using a computer during the past 25 years is for something I want to print in Word or Excel. Where would I choose a font to type.

Anyway, this problem was happening with super common characters. However, I may have narrowed the problem down to PC Home. Kind of surprising.