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Because there are many kinds of input method and many implementations of each kind of input method, it's not really practical to learn many.

PRC, mainland China uses simplified Chinese characters, as does Singapore. I assume most people in these places would use a Pinyin IME. But it would be good to know which Pinyin IME is most used currently. If I choose to learn the most popular one I will have the best chance of finding somebody who can help me when I have questions about it.

Hong Kong and Taiwan both use traditional Chinese characters.

Here in Taiwan most people do not use a Pinyin based IME, there are several IMEs based on bopomofo and others based on character shapes. Do we know which type is most used? And do we know which specific ones of the main types are used?

I don't think Hong Kong uses bopomofo and with their changing demographics from Cantonese where pinyin wouldn't work to Mandarin, I'd be very interested to know which kind of IME is most used there, and which actual implementation.

Best answers will be able to refer to some official website or statistics. For people who haven't travelled to these countries and who are just trying to learn Chinese, the IMEs from Chinese and Taiwanese companies and ones that can be downloaded from websites that don't have any English are probably not well known. People learning Chinese with a western language background are probably most likely to use IMEs that come with their computer or OS.

But it would be very good for us to know which ones actual Chinese speakers really use.

One issue though might be lack of English menus, dialogs, settings, and help for the IMEs that don't come with your OS. Learners are not proficient enough to use those in Chinese.

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I don't think it's been studied or much research would be needed as it's all personal preference software implementations can be found here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin_input_method#Implementations (For pinyin) different methods are documented here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_input_methods_for_computers –  50-3 Jan 27 '14 at 3:21
I'd be very surprised if nobody has studied this. We study people's personal preferences all the time. I'm familiar with the Wikipedia articles. One metric for IMEs which do not come with computers is of course just comparative download numbers. Just because you and I don't know doesn't mean there are no people out there who know. This is precisely what Stack Exchange is for. –  hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 3:36
Hippietrail: Different kinds of lands may use different kinds of IME, so just choose where it suits the local place. And also you can use an IME that supports 繁体(traditional Chinese) or 简体(Simplified Chinese). However you should notice NOT ONLY the character, but cultures or speaking as well:e.g: 程序(in mainland) but 程式(in Taiwan) –  CA55CE37 Jan 28 '14 at 9:24

3 Answers 3

Many people in Hong Kong use Quick aka 速成 or Simplified Cangjie. There is a wiki link for this input method:Simplified Cangjie

There is a build-in Quick IME in Windows and Mac. Most of the Quick users use it.

Quick users type Chinese using Quick on smartphone too, as the build-in IME of smartphone that selling in Hong Kong usually support Quick.

However, some people prefer to type using 5-stroke input method(5筆畫輸入法) on phone. There is a wiki link for this input method:Wubihua method. This is a very simple input method. It is based on the stroke order of a Chinese character so as long as you write Chinese, you will know how to type.

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I try to answer for the mainland China part. And I only mention Pinyin IME here because that's what I and the majority use.

Windows: IMHO, the best Pinyin IME on Windows is Sogou Pinyin regarding match rate. As you might already know, Pinyin are not 1-to-1. Sogou Pinyin has the highest match rate of all IMEs I've used. I recommend you to try it if you're still using the IME shipping with Windows. Sogou is also a search engine company. They improve their the word databases by analysing the search keywords submitted by users. Sougou Pinyin is proprietary software. Unfortunately, most Chinese companies don't respect users' privacy. Maybe I'm paranoid, I'm reluctant to use it, although Sogou Pinyin is the most widely used.

Google Pinyin. The second best regarding match rate imho. Google Pinyin is made by Google China. They were once accused by Sogou for stealing Sogou Pinyin's word databases. Google actually did and admitted. They apologized for that and deleted the words.

Rime IME It's not as good as the developers and the community claim to be but it's open source. Best choice if you're willing to trade performance for privacy. It supports many platforms besides Windows. I'm not certain but it might have English UI.

Microsoft Pinyin IME I haven't used recent version but it wasn't as good as Google or Sogou Pinyin regarding match rate. I mention it because it ships with Windows and might also have English UI.

Android: Sogou is again the most popular. I use Google Pinyin and it has English UI.

Linux: I use ibus-pinyin. I'd say it's the wrost IME I've used regarding match rate. Sun Pinyin is a better alternative. I don't use it because it doesn't support traditional Chinese.

Sorry I'm not familiar with Mac OS.

I didn't mention Baidu Pinyin because I didn't use it. Baidu Pinyin is a late comer. I definitely miss many other IMEs too. Note that when I say Sogou Pinyin is the most widely used, I don't have any statistics to support it, it's just that every one around me is using it.

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I just installed Sogou and am now uninstalling it again! Unlike the OS IMEs it assumes only fluent native Chinese speakers will ever have cause to use a Chinese IME. So the installer which has options and popup windows are only in Chinese and once it's installed any menus, options, popups, etc are only in Chinese. It's quite bewildering for a learner who doesn't have a native speaker at their beck and call. I'm sure it's great but with the Microsoft ones I can type my beginner vocabulary in Chinese but still see the menus and settings in English, which involve more advanced vocabulary. )-: –  hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 9:21
I'm probably about to buy my first Android device so it's interesting to learn that Sogou has an English UI for Android where you see my reason for uninstalling it on Windows is that it lacks an English UI. Very thorough answer by the way! –  hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 9:24
I mean Google Pinyin on Android has English UI. Sogou Pinyin probably doesn't. –  hrzhu Jan 27 '14 at 9:33
Well this question is really just about which IME is most used, so whether it's suitable for a learner is really not the focus anyway. Maybe that might be a good separate question later on ... –  hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 15:24
btw, sogou has some issues when you try to type Chinese in some games (for example, DOTA2). –  ashbringer Jan 27 '14 at 22:02

Use http://translate.google.com. You can output it to Traditional Chinese. The Pinyin method is very fast, sometimes you only need to type the first letter only. For example 拼音输入法 I only need type "pysrf" and it also includes the Pinyin with intonation marks Pīnyīn shūrù fǎ.

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I'm not asking for a recommendation for which IME I should use. I'm asking which IME is most used in each major different Chinese language region. –  hippietrail Jan 28 '14 at 19:56
OK. China uses 五笔 and 汉语拼音. Taiwan uses 注音, 自然通用拼音, 仓颉 and 嘸蝦米. Hong Kong and Macau uses 仓颉, 粵拼, 劉錫祥, 教院式 and 耶魯 method. Anywhere else and it's 汉语拼音 such as in ASEAN and overseas. –  amateur Jan 28 '14 at 21:25
Is each of those pretty much in order of popularity? I don't need a full list of all the IMEs each location uses, just the most used in each place. –  hippietrail Jan 29 '14 at 13:53
Not in any order but if in terms of popularity I'd guess 拼音 for China and 仓颉 for Taiwan and Hong Kong. Forgot to mention 注音 earlier which is the bopomofo input. In my opinion, phonetic method is becoming more popular these days. –  amateur Jan 29 '14 at 16:53

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