Typing Chinese

Typing Chinese

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Eventually, you will need to find a way to type Chinese on your computer.  Let’s figure that out right now.

Windows 10

To enable Chinese in Windows 10, hit Start Settings Time & Language Region & Language Languages Add a language Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan).

Awesome!  Traditional Hanzi with Zhuyin input is now enabled!  When you’re ready to type, press Alt+Shift to switch between English and Chinese.

Windows 8 / 8.1

To enable Chinese in Windows 8 or 8.1, hit Settings Control Panel Add a language (under Clock, Language, and Region) Add a language (again) Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan).

Awesome!  Traditional Hanzi with Zhuyin input is now enabled!  When you’re ready to type, press Alt+Shift to switch between English and Chinese.

Windows 7 / Vista

To enable Chinese in Windows 7 or Vista, hit Start Control Panel Change keyboards or other input methods (under Clock, Language, and Region) Keyboards and Languages Change keyboards… Add… Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan) for Windows 7, OR Chinese (Taiwan) for Vista (Click on the plus sign) Keyboard (Plus sign again) Chinese (Traditional) – New Phonetic OK OK.

Awesome!  Traditional Hanzi with Zhuyin input is now enabled!  When you’re ready to type, press Alt+Shift to switch between English and Chinese.

Windows XP

For Windows XP, the process has two steps.  First, you need to enable East Asian Languages.  Click Start Control Panel.  If you are in Category View, you will now press Date, Time, Regional and Language Options Add other languages.  If you are in Classic View, press Regional and Language Options Languages.

Now click on Install files for East Asian languages OK.  Reboot your computer.

If Windows asks for your Windows XP Installation CD, and you don’t have one, follow these steps.  (1) Check common locations on your computer for the cplexe.exe file.  Search the folders C:I386, C:I386lang, C:WINDOWSI386, and C:WINDOWSServicePackFilesi386lang.  If it’s not there, try (2) a General Search.  If it’s not on your computer at all (3), go to this webpage and follow the instructions to download the file from the internet.

Once you’ve downloaded/located the files on your computer, bring back the dialog box that asks you for your Installation CD, click on Browse, select the cplexe.exe file, and press OK.  You may have to repeat this process if Windows asks for additional files.  After everything is installed, reboot your computer.

The second step is to Install the Microsoft New Phonetic IME.  Go back to the Regional and Language Options window the same way you did in Step 1.  That’s Start Control Panel, and Date, Time, Regional and Language Options Add other languages if using Category View; or Regional and Language Options Languages if in Classic View.

Now click Details… Add…  Where it says “Input menu:”, choose “Chinese (Taiwan)”, and where it says “Keyboard Layout/IME:”, choose “Microsoft New Phonetic IME 2002a”, and click OK.  Take a moment to check out the two buttons in the “Preferences” area (especially “Key Settings”, which allows you to change your hotkeys).  When you’re finished, click OK OK OK to exit out.

Awesome!  Traditional Hanzi with Zhuyin input is now enabled!  When you’re ready to type, press LeftAlt+Shift to switch between English and Chinese (unless you changed that hotkey in “Key Settings”).

Mac OS X

For Mac users, everything you could possibly need to know about enabling your Chinese IME can be found on this website.  Lucky you!


Before you can set up an IME (Input Method Editor) in Linux, you need to set up an IME Framework.  The most widely used IME Framework right now, and the one I use, is IBus, but it is being slowly replaced with the newer and less buggy fcitx.

To install an IME framework (fcitx or IBus) in Ubuntu, look at one of the following tutorials: Ubuntu 9, Ubuntu 10, Ubuntu 11, Ubuntu 12, 13, 14, 15.  After installing a framework, look at this guide to install an IME.  In all cases, when you get to the part where you “Select an input method,” choose the Chewing IME.  Chewing is the preferred option for Traditional Hanzi with Zhuyin input.  Once you find it, keep the Standard output, which is Zhuyin by default.

If your Linux distro is a fork of Ubuntu, like Linux Mint, one of the Ubuntu guides above might still be helpful.

If you use another Linux distro, your best bet would probably be to enter the words “type chinese in [your Linux distro]” into Google.  Try to find an option for fcitx/Chewing or IBus/Chewing, and leave the default Zhuyin input in place.  Good luck!  I’m sure a smart Linux user like you will be able to figure it out!

Chrome OS

If you have a Chrome Book, check out this guide.  When you are adding a new input language, choose “Chinese (Traditional)”, and “Zhuyin input method”.


For iPhone, iPad, and iPod, every possible Chinese keyboard you could think of is already installed, including a darn good handwriting keyboard.  I have to admit, it’s pretty awesome.  Just go to Settings General Keyboard International Keyboards, and select which ones you want.  There should be one that says “Traditional, Zhuyin”.  Then when you’re typing something, press the little globe icon to cycle through the keyboards you enabled.


While the iPhone comes with a pretty nice Chinese handwriting keyboard preinstalled, many Android devices do not.  Linplus Traditional Chinese Keyboard is the keyboard I use for my Android phone, until I can find a better option.  Actually, it works pretty well for Zhuyin, but unfortunately the handwritten input has a time limit for drawing the character, before it erases what you’ve written.  Obviously not ideal for a student of Chinese, who is struggling to look up a difficult character.  Also, it sometimes switches to outputting Simplified Chinese, until I go into settings and change it back.  Strange, considering it’s made by a Taiwanese company!

More Tools!

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In addition to the your brand new IME, here are a few additional programs you will find indispensable to your study.

Pleco Dictionary

A freemium dictionary interface app for Android or iStuff, that can be used to browse dictionary files.  Comes with a sizable Chinese dictionary preinstalled.  Since my Android phone doesn’t have a great option for a handwriting keyboard, I also use Pleco’s handwriting feature to look up words I see on the street.


A plugin for Firefox and Chrome.  Hover your mouse cursor over any Chinese word, and a popup appears with the English definition and pronunciation.  Outputs either Pinyin or Zhuyin.  Not currently available on mobile devices, so you’ll have to use your computer.  Check out the maker’s website here.

New Tong Wen Tang

Another plugin, this one converts all the Chinese text on any webpage to either Traditional or Simplified characters.  Frequently visited pages can be set to convert automatically.  Also available for Firefox and Chrome.

The Final Quest!

Today’s quest, which is the Final Quest of Phase I, is two-fold.  First, get a Chinese input method working on your computer and smartphone (Zhuyin input, Traditional characters), and install all of the apps and plugins listed on this page.

Once you’ve done that, open up your preferred word processor and, using the the keyboard picture at the top of this page as a guide, type all 50 Basic Phrases from yesterday’s lesson.

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This concludes the Final Quest of Phase I, and brings us to the end of your Journey as a raw beginner.  Yay!  Wow, you really are a pretty awesome adventurer for making it this far!  Even the gods smile down on you now!  Click on the link below to get your reward! ^^

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Next: Journey’s End