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FAQ: missing, broken and just plain lame Chinese features in Windows 10

How do I get my old Chinese language features back???

Taiwan HK IME simplified support
After the Anniversary Update we can find MS Pinyin Options via the language bar, but still not on this panel.


Q: I can't find Chinese features I used in Windows 7! Is there any way to fix this?

A: Far too many of the problems of Windows 8 are still with us. In the past, the cure for this sort of thing often came in the form of IME (input method editor) updates released on the same schedule as new versions of Microsoft Office, with Windows language packs or as separate free downloads. But these changes are now only delivered in automatic system updates over which users have very little control.

The Cantonese Phonetic IME (CPIME) was added during an automatic system update midway through first year of Windows 10, and the July 2016 one-year Anniversary Update arrived with several new gifts for users of other IMEs. But many features are still missing, broken, or just plain lame. Below is a list of those I've found. As solutions become available, I will post them under each section below.

This list (rant) is divided into three sections:
• PRC/Singapore IME
Taiwan/HK/Macau IME
Windows and Office bugs


PRC/Singapore Chinese IME options and language bar features

The desktop language bar was much improved in the Win 10 one-year "Anniversary Update" (version 1607), released in July 2016. This update finally brought back most of the MSPY language bar tools. You must activate the desktop language bar to display these on your taskbar.

Returned from among the missing in this update:

• Chinese/English button.
   (You can also use the Shift key. This can be set to Ctrl or None in Settings.)

• Full/half width button.
   (You can also use the Shift-Spacebar hotkey combination.)

• Punctuation button.
   (You can also use the Ctrl-Spacebar hotkey combination. Or hit Shift for English.)

• Traditional/Simplified character set button.
   ("Extended" is no longer an option, and this is a new set of Traditional characters.
   See below for more information.)

• Settings button. The gear icon now opens the new Windows 10 Settings
   panel. After the Anniversary Update this only took you to the main  "Language
   & region" panel, but now jumps you directly to Microsoft Pinyin settings.


Still missing are other features shown in this screen shot of MSPY 2010 (which only works in Windows 7 and earlier):

MSPY 2010 Unicode and GB Code input on the Options menu• IME Pad (radical/stroke)

• dictionary features

• user phrase tool

• soft keyboards

• Unicode input

• GB Code input

• Help (more info here)

and in Options, as mentioned above: the <Enter> key toggle, word (phrase) prediction toggle, and the ability to turn off the candidate list.


Options and settings/control panels have been a work in progress. The image at the top of this page shows the input method section of the classic Language control panel for the PRC and Singapore locales. As of this writing you won't find Options links there, but...

you can get to the Pinyin IME settings via the language bar's new gear icon,

and as always the Bopomofo IME setttings via the Tool Menu under Properties,

You can get to the basic Windows 10 Bopomofo settings panel via Settings > Time & language > Region & language > 中文 (Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau) > Options. Then under Bopoofo > Options you'll find the basic preferences. But clicking "Advanced" there brings up the full panel, same as the shortcut via the language bar Tool Menu.

Via the same route, if you select 中文 (mainland or Singapore), you'll find yourself at the new panel for that IME, same as the language bar gear icon shortcut.

Here is a brief history of major changes to MS Pinyin settings, as of this writing:

In the initial 2015 release: Pinyin entry style (full/double Pinyin), hotkey switching, character sets (see below), personalization (dynamic candidate list ranking and self-learning, which requires you to loosen some privacy settings...see below), cloud input (which you may want to turn off, because it sends your input to Microsoft), and fuzzy Pinyin entry rules.

Added in the July 2016 "Anniversary Update": a "None" option for the Chinese/English hotkey, domain lexicons, user-defined and built-in special phrases, and candidate list width/size/font controls, plus a way to turn on the desktop language bar without going into the old-style ("advanced") control panel.

Still missing from Options: control of the <Enter> key function for composition direct input vs. Pinyin conversion (same as the <Space> key), and the ability to turn off word (phrase) prediction or to turn off the entire candidate list.

Gone forever is the "Extended" character set containing both Traditional and Simplified characters. There is a new Traditional character set that does not contain some common "modern simplified" characters. See below for more information.



Is your PRC/Singapore Pinyin Personalization greyed out?

Microsoft Pinyin personalization will automatically sort your candidate list based on your frequency of usage, and learn phrases from your typing history. Over time this will increase your typing speed.

These features were grayed out when I first looked at options for this IME: Settings > Time & language > Region & language > 中文 (mainland or Singapore) > Options > Microsoft Pinyin > Options.

This is not actually broken, but I was unable to figure it out until a visitor to this site informed me this function is now linked to Microsoft's new "Getting to Know You" feature. When you first install Windows 10, Microsoft suggests that you allow Windows and Cortana to "get to know you". If you decline, these Pinyin options will be one of many features that will be deactivated.

If you are using the Traditional Chinese option in Microsoft Pinyin, the Personalization feature will not work even if you let Windows get to know you. This is yet another reason why I do not recommend that TC option.

If you are using Microsoft Pinyin for Simplified Chinese, you can enable Personalization by going to Settings > Privacy > Speech, inking, & typing, and clicking the "Get to know me" button. Agreeing to this allows Microsoft to send some of your typing history back to their labs for "product improvement purposes". They promise to scramble and anonymize this data, but they haven't clearly stated how much they will take and exactly how well it will be protected.

Something to think about. But many of us have been trusting Google, Baidu, Sogou, and others with this same data on our smartphones for a very long time already. And the "cloud input" feature they all now offer — including Microsoft — takes this yet another step toward Big Brother ... but perhaps it's best not to think about these things too much. :-)



Changing character sets within the PRC/Singapore Pinyin IME

The Windows 10 "Anniversary Update" (version 1607), released in July 2016, finally brought back the taskbar button for quickly switching between Simplified and Traditional Chinese character sets. This had been missing since Windows 8!

Without that button, we had to dive several clicks deep into Settings > Time & language > Region & language > 中文 (mainland or Singapore) > Options > Microsoft Pinyin > Options > Character set. That control panel setting is still available too.

Note that there is one important difference between this feature in Windows 10, and the last release for older versions of Windows.

Jian-Fan-Ext buttonThis is a screen shot of MSPY 2010, a free update for Windows 7 and earlier (which unfortunately does not work in Windows 8 or 10).   →

Notice that this version included an "Extended Character Set" that combined Simplified and Traditional.

The Extended Character Set is gone, perhaps forever, and without that you may need to switch often due to certain modern simplified characters missing from the traditional set. See the next section to learn why.



The new PRC/Singapore Traditional Chinese character set: a poor choice

Old style zhi

The loss of the "extended" Chinese character set, mentioned in the previous section, is made worse by the fact that the Traditional Chinese character set adopted by Microsoft for mainland/Singapore users in Windows 8 and 10 is missing what you might call "modern simplified" Chinese characters. Such characters have long been in common use throughout Taiwan and other Traditional Chinese regions.

For example, this new GB code Traditional Chinese character set contains only the old version of "zhi3": 衹 instead of 只. In Windows 7, the modern simplified character 只 was available when using mainland input methods. This problem was even more frustrating until the one-year "Anniversary Update" was released, because until then we couldn't conveniently switch between the character sets inside the Microsoft Pinyin IME now (as explained in the previous section).

In adopting this character set, someone at Microsoft has clearly not thought through the global nature of Chinese electronic communication. Whether you use this feature to avoid cross-strait encoding corruption, or simply because you like the Microsoft Pinyin input method better than the Pinyin option in Microsoft Bopomofo, you have a right to be unhappy with this change.




Taiwan/Hong Kong / Macau Chinese IME options and language bar features

The image above shows the input method section of the classic Language control panel for the Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau locales. In Windows 10, you won't find Options links for Quick, Changjie, or the Cantonese CPIME at the time of this writing. You'll have to go to the new Settings panel: Settings > Time & language > Region & language > 中文 (Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau) > Options.

Quick and Changjie options in Settings are extremely limited: for Quick and Changjie you'll only find controls for "Beep" feedback, Associated Phrases, English/Chinese default input, Mode Change Key, and character set choices for Unicode and HKSCS. Unlike the others there is no "Advanced settings" link that would take you to options on the classic Language control panel, because that doesn't exist.

Quick users are particularly frustrated with this, as many are used to an older keyboard layout but there is no such option in Windows 10.

Cantonese CPIME is greyed out in the main Settings list, as it was licensed and bolted onto the classic desktop (where it lives on the "ZH" button, not "CH"). See this FAQ page for instruction on how to select the Cantonese Phonetic IME. And since there are no Options for this one, you cannot change from the default Jyutping to another phonetic system such as Yale or Sydney Lau. The Help feature is also missing, but I have suggestions on my English-language Help for the MS phonetic IMEs page. At the time of this writing I see no download that officially supports Windows 10 on the CPIME website Open new window but those downloads do install in Win 10 (replacing any other CPIME already on your system) so you may want to give those a try.

The Tool Menu and taskbar buttons are missing from Quick, Changjie, Array, DaYi, and Cantonese.

Switch to Bopomofo/Pinyin input to access the Tool Menu for these features:

• IME Pad

• Symbol (use the grave key <`> at the upper left of your keyboard for punctuation)

• (Properties for other input methods are available only in the new Settings control panel)

• Chinese/English button (or use <Shift>)

• full/half width button (use Shift-space)

• Help files: right-click on the "CH" button, select "restore the language bar, then click the "?" menu

Also, the floating Software Keyboard is missing.




Miscellaneous Windows and Office bugs


Unwanted bilingual system search results

After I installed the Chinese language packs in Windows 10, the system's Search feature became semi-bilingual, but mostly just bipolar: control panel results are in Chinese, and Settings results are in English.

In this example, while in the English display language I got Traditional Chinese and English for different items: the control panel "Devices and printers" is 裝置和印表機, and "Device Manager" is 裝置管理員, but the Settings items like "Add or remove devices" are in English.

If I narrow this search to only "device manager", I get only the Chinese language results for that control panel. This is good language practice for me, but I can't believe it is intentional.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1607), released in July 2016, seems to have fixed this problem for me.



Does your MS Word Phonetic Guide fail to automatically generate Pinyin? I have not received complaints about this from Windows 10 users, but in Vista, Win 7, and Win 8 each new system installation often left us with a broken Registry connection between Word and the MSPY Pinyin database. The problem could only be fixed by installing an IME update (or by reinstalling the original IME if it was available separately). Word 2013 Phonetic Guide missing Pinyin

At this time I have no fix for this in Windows 10, although I suspect installing the Anniversary Update (version 1607, July 2016) would be the solution. I would like to hear from you if you are experiencing the problem in any Windows 10 release. If you have an older version of Windows, please see the broken Phonetic Guide FAQ page.



I'm sure there are more...

Feel free to contact me if you have something to add to this list - either a problem or a solution, everything helps - or if you have other comments, questions or suggestions.


Related Windows 10 pages:

Windows 8 and 10 Chinese features overview: fonts, IMEs, and more

Windows 10 FAQ: How to select the Cantonese Phonetic IME (CPIME)

Windows 10 Language and input method keyboard setup

Windows 10 Traditional character Pinyin input: two alternatives

Windows 10 Simplified character Pinyin input: the MSZY alternative

Windows 10 Chinese handwriting input, speech input, & language packs

Windows 10 advanced features: desktop language bar, IME Pad, and more

Windows 10 Help files - in English!


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