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What options are available for input of simplified Chinese on Windows computers?

Is it possible to draw characters using a mouse or stylus, or perhaps input using speech recognition?

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Can you rephrase the question to include also Mac, for example? So we don't ask several questions for the same subject. –  Alenanno Dec 13 '11 at 22:20
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I'm interested specifically in Windows, and I guess the options on Mac, Linux, Android etc are going to be completely different. I think it would be valid for others to ask about other platforms if they are interested (there surely aren't that many platforms, so I don't think we'll get too many such questions) –  Cocowalla Dec 13 '11 at 22:27
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I included it anyway, if you don't mind. :) –  Alenanno Dec 13 '11 at 22:30

6 Answers 6

Here is a nice Wikipedia article outlines Chinese input methods

Using a keyboard, the most popular ones are PinYin and Wubi.

Yes, you can also use a drawing pad to draw characters using mouse or stylus. It's called "写字板" or "手写板".

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It depends on the OS you're in. On answers.microsoft.com I searched chinese and you can see the solutions for each OS from Microsoft.

Just for completeness, let me add also a quick guide for the Mac OS X. You do the following:

  1. Go to System Preferences (you can reach it in the menu by clicking on the apple symbol on the top-left side);
  2. Click on "Language and Text" or something similar, it has a flag icon;
  3. Click on the "Input source" tab;
  4. Scroll down until you see "Chinese - Simplified" or "Chinese - Traditional";
  5. Select the input type you desire;
  6. You can select the language input by clicking on the Flag on the top bar, near the time and the battery level.

Now open a document. If you selected the "pinyin input" type, which is the most used (sometimes the only one available) and the easiest one, then you can type the "alphabetical" version of the characters, which is called pinyin, indeed.

For example, if you wanna write "你好", type "nihao". A menu will "open". To select one of the choices, click on the number that corresponds to the expression you wish to write and voilà. Below you'll see the menu I was talking about:

screenshot pinyin chinese

By clicking one, I choose to write the two characters that correspond to "nihao" which mean "hello".

On the Mac it is also possible to draw using the trackpad or an external graphic tablet:

screenshot trackpad

This was done like the video showed in the Apple support page.

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A good answer... if I had a Mac ;) –  Cocowalla Dec 13 '11 at 22:43
    
Eheheh, sorry, I know it doesn't apply to you but I felt it wouldn't harm to post it. I hope the first link can be helpful for you! –  Alenanno Dec 13 '11 at 22:50

enter image description hereYou can use the Tablet PC Input Panel (whether you are on a tablet pc or not) by right clicking the taskbar, hovering over the toolbars submenu and checking tablet pc input panel

If that option isnt available, you may need to install it by going to Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> Turn windows features on or off and checking tablet pc components

The tablet pc input panel allows you to draw characters (english or chinese depending on what the current input language is set as) using the mouse or, if you have one, a touch screen or drawing tablet

If you want to type your characters using Pinyin, then you can use the microsoft pinyin IME installable through Control panel -> region and language -> keyboard and languages

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Hmm, for some reason I can only use the writing pad with English, not Chinese :( (the keyboard icon is greyed out if I select Chinese) –  Cocowalla Dec 14 '11 at 12:57

So I've got an answer that works on both Windows and Mac (quite recently), which is Sogou Pinyin Input. The default Mac input system has terrible sentence generation, and the default Windows system is even worse, IMHO. Sogou is really fantastic, and quite a step up from either the Google Pinyin IME for Windows, or the recently-turned-freeware QIM for Mac (which isn't too bad, I just didn't think it was worth paying for)

For character recognition, there are all sorts of tablets available (it would be very time consuming with a mouse), but there is also an app called Finger which works on your iOS device, and links up with your computer for doing handwriting.

Lastly, and this is Mac only - you can use the trackpad/magic touchpad to do Chinese handwriting. It's pretty neat.

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I prefer qq pinyin input (py.qq.com) but that's just a matter of personal opinion. –  Zhanger Dec 15 '11 at 9:26

I'd better say that we all use SouGou PinYin input method http://pinyin.sogou.com/ in Windows. It is the best pinyin input method and support all the functions you wanted. BTW, in linux (for example, ubuntu), we use Sunpinyin or Googlepinyin with ibus or fcitx.

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Try the Chrome Extension Google Input Tools.

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