Inputting Chinese characters

If you are learning Chinese then chances are that before too long you will want to write in Chinese using the computer. Assuming you are looking for a tool that allows you to write in Chinese as easily as it to write in roman script, then what you are looking for is a Chinese IME (Input Method Editor).


Google has is own IME for inputting Chinese characters, and like most things Google it works well. Once installed it is easy to switch between writing in English and writing in Chinese.


The key selling point of any Chinese IME is its ability to provide the exact characters you want. For instance if you are writing about a policeman then you will want 被警察 (bèijǐngchá) rather than 北京茶.

The Google IME appears to claim that it will do a better job at getting to the characters you want quickly and accurately, and from my experience so far it seems to do a very good job of it. It can cope with writing long strings of characters and analyse the whole sentence to determine what characters make sense.


One drawback about the Google IME is that it the software itself is in Chinese– i.e. the terms and conditions, the settings etc are all in Chinese (so not so helpful if you are still a rookie language learner). You don’t need to alter the settings to make it work well, so this isn’t necessarily a problem but if you are of a nervous disposition, or just like to carefully read all your terms and conditions then maybe the Microsoft Pinyin IME would be a better alternative.


See also the previous blog post on wubi and pinyin.


  • Djeasily

    if you got a mac, inputting chinese is so easy. you can just add the language in the language settings. you can chooose simplified, traditional, etc. Same for iPad and of course also for the iPhone. On a regular computer it is a little bit more complicated in my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    yeah, if you use Mac, then probably you won’t need to install other pinyin tool, actually, PC also has a built-in Chinese input tool, however, comparing to Google Pinyin or Sogou Pinyin, it’s hard to use and slow.