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Windows XP Chinese Pinyin Setup

A Quick Start Guide for
Simplified AND Traditional Chinese Characters

in Western Versions of MS Windows XP

Windows XP Chinese pinyin IME

This page is for anyone who needs the Pinyin input method to type Chinese characters into Western versions of Windows XP.

If you are instead seeking ways type and display Pinyin with tone marks, you may be interested in my Pinyin macro for Microsoft Word, or you may want to look at my survey of third-party fonts, input methods and tools.

Some basic fonts and input methods for both traditional and simplified Chinese characters are built into Windows XP. But Microsoft's default assumption appears to be that you are a native speaker and typist, skilled in high-speed entry using the number pad or other specialized methods. This is especially clear when you look at the default options for traditional characters: at first glance, Pinyin does not appear to be available. But have no fear, this can be adjusted!

These instructions assume that you've already enabled East Asian languages in Windows. Elsewhere on this site I've listed the Chinese fonts that come with Windows XP, and added a survey of available third-party Chinese language add-ins for Windows XP, but first just follow these simple steps to set up Pinyin input:

Installing Simplified Chinese Pinyin input

Installing Traditional Chinese Pinyin input

Adjusting the Language Bar and shortcuts


To install Simplified Chinese input methods, also known in Microsoft-speak as Input Method Editors (IME):

    Have you enabled East Asian languages?
     If so, then please open Regional and Language Options:
  • Click on the Windows start menu to begin.
  • Click on Control Panel (if not visible, click here for help).
  • If in Category View ("Pick a Category"), click on Date, Time, Regional and Language Options, then click Add other languages.
    If in Classic View or menu view, click on Regional and Language Options, then click the Languages tab.
  • Click on the Details button.
     The Text Services and Input Languages window will appear.
  • Click on the Add button:

Text Services and Input Languages window: add button

     The Add Input Language window will appear.

  • In the Input language menu, select "Chinese (PRC)"
  • Click the checkbox next to Keyboard layout/IME.
  • In the Keyboard layout/IME menu, select "Chinese (Simplified) - Microsoft Pinyin IME"
  • Click the OK button.

You can click the Add button again to select more input methods. I suggest you experiment with the "Microsoft Pinyin IME 3.0" (MSPY) and "QuanPin" methods. The other methods are more appropriate for professional speed typists. Waiguoren don't want to go there.

Microsoft includes a user manual for the MSPY input method, in the help file available by clicking on the "?" in the full Language bar when the input method is selected. The English is a bit off, and there is at least one feature described that doesn't actually work for most people (toggling between simplified and traditional while staying within MSPY...best fix is to install an IME update), but overall it's a useful guide.

The MSPY method offers some options, including "full Pinyin" (full sentence input) and "double Pinyin" (abbreviated input), fuzzy lookup and more. You can explore these via the "Properties" button in the Text Services and Input Languages window.

If you're not going to install Traditional input, wait! Skip to the "One more thing before you go" section below.

MSPY 2010 download buttonUPDATE: MSPY 2010 has been released! Please see my MSPY 2010 Chinese Pinyin IME Update FAQ for more information.

To install Hanyu Pinyin for Traditional Chinese:

     Again, just need to double-check:
     Have you enabled East Asian languages?
     If so, then please open Regional and Language Options:

  • Click on the Windows start menu to begin.
  • Click on Control Panel (if not visible, click here for help).
  • If in Category View ("Pick a Category"), click on Date, Time, Regional and Language Options, then click Add other languages.
    If in Classic View or menu view, click on Regional and Language Options, then click the Languages tab.
  • Click on the Details button.
     The Text Services and Input Languages window will appear.
  • Click on the Add button.
     The Add Input Language window will appear:
  • In the Input language menu, select "Chinese (Taiwan)"
  • In the Keyboard layout/IME menu, select "Microsoft New Phonetic IME 2002a".
  • Click the OK button.

  • Now back in the Text Services and Input Languages window, click once on the "Microsoft New Phonetic IME 2002a" method that you have just added under "Chinese (Taiwan), Keyboard".
  • Click on the Properties button. (If Properties is grayed out, click the Apply button, or the OK button and then the Details button to return.)
     The Add Input Language window will appear:
  • Click the Keyboard Mapping tab.
  • Select the HanYu Pinyin keyboard layout map.
  • Click the OK button.

MSPY 2010 download buttonUPDATE: The Taiwan IME 2010 update has been released! Please see my Taiwan IME 2010 Update FAQ for more info. For Windows 7, Vista and XP SP3, and does not require Office 2010 or any other version of Office.

One more thing before you go! You'll be glad you read the following:

Adjusting the Language Bar and Keyboard Shortcuts

Notice the Preferences frame at the bottom of the Text Services and Input Languages window. There you can control the Language Bar and the keyboard shortcuts for changing between English and the other language input methods. Some people can't stand the existence of one or the other.

Text Services and Input Languages window

For example, some people frequently hit a certain key combination by accident and find themselves typing in another language. Those folks prefer to use the Language Bar. Others can't stand having the Language Bar in the way and find it too slow, preferring to memorize shortcuts.

Personally I turned off all the Keyboard shortcuts, as you can see in the list here, by clicking on "Key Settings" button, and then the "Change Key Sequence" button in the following dialog box...

...and unchecking both boxes in the next dialog box:

Also, if you're working only in text and not using a microphone or any of the speech tools, you can remove those icons from your Taskbar. (The Language goes to the Taskbar at the bottom of your Windows desktop when minimized). Just click on the "Language Settings" button, and in the next dialog box, uncheck "Show additional Language bar icons in the task bar".

Then your Taskbar can look nice and clean like this:

To switch languges, just left-click and select. When you need all the language tools and options, just click on that button again and select "Additional icons in the task bar" or "Show the Language bar".

That's all there is to it! Please see the links below for more help available on this and other sites.

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