How to Set Up a Chinese Keyboard on Any Device

All about setting up a Chinese keyboard on your device to so you can type in Chinese using pinyin.
Written by Tanner
Updated 1 year ago

Hello and welcome to the ultimate, definitive master guide for setting up the Chinese language input on your computer or mobile device. Whether you are a Mac or a PC user, Android or iOS, we’ve got it all covered in this post!

The fact is, you don't need to know how to write every stroke of every character to type in Chinese! Typing in Chinese is not only the primary way most Chinese people actually create most written messages, it's also a great way to practice character recognition, and is a core aspect to how we teach Chinese characters in our courses.

Matter of fact, we do require typing Chinese characters for some quiz questions on our site, so we highly recommend adding the Chinese keyboard - that way you can get the most out of our quizzes and answer all quiz question types successfully!

This article is about setting up the Chinese keyboard on your device. If you’re wondering how a "Chinese keyboard" works, given that keyboards don’t have Chinese characters, you should first watch Lesson 4 from our Chinese Character Course where we explain the process itself of how to type Hanzi using a keyboard:

Now that you know how the process works, you're ready for this guide! We've got step-by-step instructions for actually setting up the Chinese character input keyboard - simplified or traditional - on your device.

We've listed out how to install a Chinese keyboard for the four below categories:

  1. Computers: Mac OS

  2. Computers: Windows

  3. Mobile: iOS (iPhone, iPad)

  4. Mobile: Android

Just check out the device you want to use, and start typing Chinese characters. Not only will you be writing in Mandarin, but you'll be practicing your character recognition!

Computers: Mac OS

To set up the Chinese character keyboard on your Apple computer:

STEP 1. Click the Apple Menu in the top left corner of your screen and select "System Preferences":

STEP 2. From the System Preferences menu, select "Keyboard":

STEP 3. On the "Keyboard" menu, click the plus sign in the bottom left corner to add a new keyboard:

STEP 4. Scroll down to select "Chinese - Simplified" or "Chinese - Traditional" and click "Add":

STEP 5: Now you're all set to type in Chinese! Just click the input icon in the menu at the top right corner of your screen and select Chinese from the dropdown:

Pro Tip: You can easily toggle between language input sources by holding the "control" key (^) and click the space bar.

Computers: Windows

We're going to show you how to set up the Chinese character keyboard on your PC computer running the Windows 10 operating system. There are some small differences with older versions of Windows (for example, on Windows 7 the "Time and Languages" menu is called "Region and Language" and the overall design is slightly different).

STEP 1. Open up the "Time and Languages" menu by clicking the IME (Input Method Editor) icon and and choosing "Language preferences":

STEP 2. In the "Time and Languages" menu, click "Region and language" and then select "Add a language":

STEP 3. Select "Chinese Simplified" or "Chinese Traditional" (or both!):

STEP 4. Choose "Chinese (Simplified, China)" to confirm the language selection:

STEP 5. You've now added the Chinese language keyboard input, and can select it by clicking on the IME icon in the menu in the bottom right corner of your screen:

Mobile: iOS (iPhone, iPad)

To set up the Chinese language keyboard on your iOS device:

STEP 1. Open the Settings for your device and click on "General":

STEP 2. Scroll down and select "Keyboards":

STEP 3. On the "Keyboards" menu screen, click "Add New Keyboard":

STEP 4. Find "Chinese (Simplified)" or "Chinese (Traditional)" from the list of languages and click to add the keyboard:

STEP 5. Choose the Pinyin input method with the keyboard layout you prefer:

STEP 6: Now you're all set to type in Chinese! Just click the "Globe" key next to the space bar whenever you are inputing text to switch to the Chinese keyboard:

Mobile: Android

The most popular Chinese character input method for Android user's is the Google Pinyin Input app.

STEP 1: Open the Google Play store and search for "Google Pinyin App", then click to install:

STEP 2: Open the Google Pinyin Input app and click the button to "Enable" the input method:

Step 3: In the "Language & input" menu, toggle the slider to enable Google Pinyin Input:

STEP 4: Back in the Google Pinyin Input app, click "Select Input Method":

STEP 5: Select "Google Pinyin Input" and then click "Configure input methods":

STEP 6: Click "Keyboard" from the app settings menu:

STEP 7: Select the keyboard layout you prefer. You can switch to the Chinese input anytime you bring up the keyboard to type by clicking the symbol:

Tip: How to Type "ü" Characters (e.g. 女)

When you try to type the character 女 (nǚ), meaning "female" - as in 女人 (nǚ rén) or 美女 (měi nǚ) - the right character doesn't pop up!

You type in "nu" and you get 怒 (nù) - "angry", or 奴 (nú) - "slave", but no 女 (nǚ)!

It's driving you CRAZY! You're wondering, "What am I doing wrong???"

The secret is simple!

To type characters with the ǚ sound, type "v" instead of "u"! So for 女 (nǚ), just type "nv" instead of "nu".

It's that easy!

Now that you've got you device set up, start typing Chinese!

You can use your own input method for our typing exercises, write your own Chinese poetry or stories, start sending messages in Mandarin to your Chinese friends and fellow students, and make new friends in the great big world of Chinese social media.

If you have any other questions or need any help, just send us a message to chat with our team!

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