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What is the best way for me to type pinyin using a keyboard on Windows?

I've tried the built-in IMEs, but... they don't feel very intuitive to me. For example, if I want to get , I need to type wu, then select from a list of possible options.

Instead, I'd like to type something like wu3 to get

Is there anything built in to Windows to allow that? Or are there any suggestions for applications to let me input pinyin like this?

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The Windows IME is actually quite intuitive for typing long sentences, it relies on context so is not suited for typing single words, but if you are typing emails it works fine. –  xiaohouzi79 Dec 13 '11 at 22:21
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@xiaohouzi79 Note that he's not asking how to type chinese, but how to type pinyin with tones (just saying in case you didn't understand). :) –  Alenanno Dec 13 '11 at 22:22
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@Alenanno - Sorry, my bad!!! I skimmed the question :( –  xiaohouzi79 Dec 13 '11 at 22:28
    
Is there anybody who can understand the the poster's question? He's asking for an input method to write Chinese characters, not Pinyin. He wants the input method to consider a tone input, to specify a tone on a pinyin input, one advantage is to shrink the number of characters in the list. The windows cannot always predict what you want to write. The input method in the older windows works fine, why destroying something good? –  asdf Mar 13 at 1:09
    
Actually, I wanted a method to write Pinyin, not Chinese characters –  Cocowalla Mar 13 at 10:10
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9 Answers 9

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I like the pinyinput input method editor. Just type the letters for the syllable followed by a tone number, and it will combine them in the usual way.

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Nice input method, I wasn't aware of this one. It seems like Cocowalla found the right IM. –  Vincent B. Dec 14 '11 at 1:12
    
This is perfect, thanks :) –  Cocowalla Dec 15 '11 at 8:22
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I wrote the PinyinTones IME a couple of years ago to do exactly what the OP was asking about:

PinyinTones a Windows IME that outputs Pinyin with tone marks, rather than Chinese characters. Type 1, 2, 3, or 4 after each syllable to add a tone mark -- just as people have been entering Pinyin since the days of ASCII characters.

PinyinTones allows the user to type Pinyin with tone marks into any Windows program

PinyinTones will automatically place the tone mark on the correct vowel in a combination, according to the rules of Pinyin orthography. For example, becomes hǎo -- with the tone mark on the "a" rather than on the "o")

How is PinyinTones different from other Pinyin tone entry IMEs?

  1. There are no ads, toolbars, or popups.
  2. It uses in-line text composition, just like the Microsoft IMEs. This means that in most applications, text will reflow as you type.
  3. It works fully in Windows 8 -- including Windows Store applications.
  4. It was intentionally written to be very simple. That means less that can potentially break with changes in system configuration.
  5. I use Windows as my primary OS. Thus, if something does break, I'll personally get very annoyed, and I'll fix it.
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Just installed this, and it works great for inputting Pinyin :) –  Cocowalla Dec 1 '12 at 11:21
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I found this site, robrohan.com, that has a page with a tutorial on how to set and use an application that remaps your keyboard.

See also this question on Superuser SE, "How to type pinyin text with tone marks in Windows?", there are various resources in the answers, especially the main one.

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Have you used any pinyin input methods yourself? –  Cocowalla Dec 13 '11 at 22:25
    
Honestly? No, I don't have to type it a lot, so I haven't looked into that... I simply drag the characters with the marks I don't have on my keyboard, which means first and third tone, from a character palette on my system. :) –  Alenanno Dec 13 '11 at 22:32
    
Heh, fair enough :) –  Cocowalla Dec 13 '11 at 22:33
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Besides Windows OS-included IME's, there's:

搜狗 Sou Gou Pin Yin is my favorite by far. http://pinyin.sogou.com/

You can switch easily between simplified and traditional (if that matters to you), and you can download from several skins.

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南極星 NJ Star is one I used for a while: http://www.njstar.com/cms/

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Allows you to type in the tones (so you're forced to remember them)

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I really don't think you need to look much further than that.

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I would like to add new information to this post. I used 搜狗 Sou Gou Pin Yin as Growler suggest in his answer for this question. And now I really think that this is the best IME I ever used. But just a few weeks ago I installed the new Windows 8 and was pleased to find a new improved IME from Microsoft. It is pretty good, much better than the previous versions.

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Try ZiGuang; you can use Shift + 1, 2, 3, 4 after typing a word to select the tone you want.

If you want to find a Pinyin typing method in daily life, I recommend Google Pinyin and Microsoft Pinyin 2010 (a significant improvement over the one built-in to Windows)

As far as I know, Microsoft Pinyin also supports typing with tones. However, I am currently using Mac OS X. If you have any more question, please feel free to comment.

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I use the Taiwan Pinyin.. You just have to add "Chinese (traditional, Taiwan)". It is by default set to bopomofo, so when you add the keyboard, you just have to go to properties, then to the last tab and change it to 漢語拼音.

You can decide when you want to type with tones or not. If for example you want to type a sentence with a name on it, you just type without the tones, and for it to be more accurate with some words or names, you just type the number of the tone at the end of the syllable.

It's the most convenient Typing method that I have found until now. For those of you who would like to type in Simplified Chinese, I think there's a way to change it, but I'm not sure because I never done it before. Good luck!

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I don't just get one Taiwan keyboard option, I get severak, including ChangJie, New ChangJie, New Phonetic, New Quick, Phonetic, Quick, US Keyboard, Array, DaYi.... which one do you use to type with tones? –  Cocowalla Nov 13 '12 at 10:00
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As an alternative if to stay stick to Microsoft IME you can add Alphabetical Style Input Method Microsoft Pinyin. With that IME you can input pinyin with tone number. Although it's not perfect and not really convinient in Microsoft realization.

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Not sure if you are referring to the 'Microsoft ABC Pinyin Input Style'? I've tried that, and I'm not sure how it's supposed to work, but while it displays characters based on Pinyin you enter, it doesn't seem to use the tones you enter (at least not how I would expect!). For example, wo3 displays , which isn't what I would expect –  Cocowalla Dec 1 '12 at 11:26
    
Not sure about it precise english spelling, I have russian Windows 7 so it is a translation from russian. I just check it for wo3 it gives me 我 character in a first place of the list. –  Denis Kucherov Dec 1 '12 at 11:40
    
Yes, it gives me 我 as first too... but then it lists another 2 characters that don't have the 3rd tone –  Cocowalla Dec 1 '12 at 11:48
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Usually most input methods used for Chinese (and thus used by Chinese) are not based on tones. For Pinyin it is really rare that you input a single character at a time; you usually input a word composed of at least two characters or a sentence directly.

According to the IM you use you will have to choose from a list of propositions for different possible characters matching the Pinyin. I use Sogou Pinyin daily and for this kind of situation it is very rare that I have to choose characters not already "pre selected".

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I approve this suggestion. Sogou also learns your preferences, so it gets smarter as you use it. –  Orion Dec 14 '11 at 7:19
    
Yep Sogou Pinyin is the IM that most of the Chinese people I know and work with are using. Also, I guess it uses stats from other users to provide you good propositions, kind of like a "collective" sharing of input and global stats server behind this I. (my own opinion, I didn't checked this). –  Vincent B. Dec 14 '11 at 7:39
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I don't want to type pinyin to get Chinese characters - I want to type pinyin and get pinyin with tone marks –  Cocowalla Dec 15 '11 at 8:23
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