I am trying to find an Apple tablet dictionary that supports drawing input.

What I mean by that Is that you are able to draw the character you are looking for and then it suggests a number of characters this drawing of yours looks like.

I have noticed that android Pleco has this function but not for Iphone Pleco.

Can anyone point to another app that works for IOS?

  • When you mention characters are you referring to letters, CJK ideographs or something else like pictures?
    – Tommie C.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 14:10
  • 4
    You don't need any third-party app to support "drawing input" – iOS itself has such an input method: Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard... -> Chinese (Simplified) / Chinese (Traditional) -> Handwriting. Then it's done.
    – Stan
    Jan 7, 2016 at 14:11
  • I am reffering to Chinese Characters. 汉字 not 母子。
    – Nulle
    Jan 7, 2016 at 14:11
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it should belong to the Ask Different website.
    – Stan
    Jan 7, 2016 at 14:23
  • 2
    I simply don't agree Stan. It has taken me months to find a solution for this drawing input subject. This is an important tool and a HUGE time safer for people who wants to look up Chinese Characters. IOS users now know they are not screwed when it comes to using Pleco or other app based dictionaries. Which is to my understanding what this website is about. Helping people studying chinese whatever their twist might be. Now if you don't want the credit for your solution then I will take it. Once again thank you very much for your help Stan!
    – Nulle
    Jan 7, 2016 at 14:34

3 Answers 3


You don't need an app for this, it's a built-in feature in iOS. To enable Chinese handwriting input, do the following steps:

  1. Go to SettingsGeneral → Keyboard.
  2. Go Keyboards and tap Add New Keyboard...
  3. Tap on the name of the keyboard you want to add: e.g., Chinese (Simplified) - Handwriting.
  4. Optional: Tap Edit and drag on the handles to rearrange the keyboard list into the order you'd like.

To use:

  1. Go to whatever app you want to enter Chinese text into (e.g., Pleco).
  2. Get to a place in the app where it expects keyboard input (e.g., in Pleco, tap in the search text box).
  3. In the keyboard, there is a globe-icon key (it becomes a happy face key in the emoji keyboard), which allows you to cycle through your keyboards. Tap it until you reach the Chinese handwriting input you added.
  4. Draw the strokes and select your character from the proposed characters that appear at the top of the keyboard.

This Youtube video shows how to enable iPad's builtin system chinese hand writing keyboards. Once you enable one of them, you can use it not only for Pleco but also for any apps.

  • As currently Youtube is blocked in Mainland China, it would be better to post some screenshots instead of a single link – and welcome to Chinese SE :)
    – Stan
    Jan 31, 2016 at 8:45

The real thing you need is an input method supporting stroke input. A Sogou input method is recommended. You can download it on its website. Use this input method to input the character you have seen, and look it up in any Chinese dictionary app.

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