How to Type in Chinese Characters (Mac)

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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

Adding Chinese Pinyin Input Methods

First, open your System Preferences from the Apple menu.

Select System Preferences


Then, Select Language & Text


Select Language & Text


Make sure the Input Sources tab is selected, then scroll down to until you find “Chinese – Simplified” and “Chinese – Traditional”. Check the one you prefer to use. I personally use both and then use keyboard shortcuts to quickly switch between them as needed. Deselect all sub-options except for “Pinyin – Simplified” and/or “Pinyin -Traditional”.

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.


Add Chinese Pinyin input methods

Switching between input methods

At this point, you will see a new menu bar item at the top of your screen.

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.


Switching input from the menu


Give typing in Chinese a try

Now that you’re all set up, open up your favorite text editor and try typing Chinese!



Typing in Chinese with Pinyin input.

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