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Chinese Pinyin Setup
in Windows 10

A Quick Start Guide to Setting up Input Methods for
Simplified AND Traditional Chinese Characters
in Non-Chinese versions of Microsoft Windows 10

This is a guide to setting up Chinese input methods in Windows 10. As I explain in more detail in my overview of Chinese language features in this release, at this time I cannot recommend that Windows 7 users upgrade, as many Chinese language features that were missing in Windows 8 are still missing in Windows 10. I plan to write up a new list for Win 10 soon, while expecting (hoping?) to see updates that fix some or all of these problems released in 2016. Meanwhile Windows 8 users should go ahead and install Windows 10, and may benefit from doing so.

On later pages I cover handwriting input and other options. But first, the Hanyu Pinyin Input Method!

Windows 7 Chinese Pinyin input method example

You can sync most of your language settings from a previous Windows 8 or 10 installation if you use the same Microsoft account, and many will also survive an upgrade. But some features will often need to be downloaded again, and you will probably need to tweak your settings.

I have to begin with the assumption that you are doing a clean install, so feel free to skip ahead to whatever features or settings you need:

1. Chinese features overview

2. Chinese input methods: basic setup (this page)

3. Traditional character Pinyin input: two alternatives

4. Simplified character Pinyin input: the MSZY alternative

5. Chinese handwriting input, speech input, and language packs

6. Advanced features: desktop language bar, IME Pad, hotkeys, and more

7. Help files - in English!

8. Missing, broken, and just plain lame Chinese features

If you need Pinyin with tone marks, you may be interested in these free downloads:

1. Free Pinyin tone mark macros for Microsoft Word and Excel

2. Free tone mark input methods for Windows

1. Chinese Input Methods: Basic Setup

Win 10 Settings - Time and LangaugeIn my little collage of images on the right are pieces of the Start menu and the Settings panel.

Open the Start menu and select Settings.

Then in Settings, select "Time & language".

(After this is set up, you can just click at the bottom of the input methods menu. And a right-click on the old-style taskbar input method button goes even deeper)

This will take you to the Time & Language settiings. In the "Region and Language" section, under "Languages", select "Add a language":

Win 10 Time & Language - Add a language


Scroll to the right as needed to find "Chinese (Simplified)" and/or "Chinese (Traditional)" in the list:

Add a language - Chinese

"Chinese (Simplified)" actually includes a Traditional character option, and "Chinese (Traditional)" includes a Simplified character option, each with some limitations. I cover this in later pages.

Some of you may choose based on which input method you prefer. But it's often very important to make your choice based on the region you are in or communicate with most — mainland/Singapore vs. Taiwan/HK/Macau — to match the encoding underlying your documents and messages. This helps avoid future technical problems, like unrecoverable scrambled messages full of question marks, "tofu blocks", and other garbage characters.

To make matters even more confusing, many people in Singapore use the Taiwan or HK locales for Traditional characters, and many in Hong Kong/Macau use the PRC locale for Simplified. And, the Taiwan/HK/Macau settings offer a choice of Big5 or Unicode. It's best to ask people about their settings before sending much, if they know.


The default Chinese "region" choices are mainland China and Hong Kong for most users of an English-language Windows release. Microsoft has put the Traditional character display language pack downloads only in the Hong Kong settings. (Unlike Windows 8 the Taiwan and Macau locales do offer the handwriting feature, and all include speech.)

Language regions - PRC/Singapore, Taiwan/HK/Macau


When you're done, back in the Languages section you'll find the regions you've selected. When you click on their names, you'll be rewarded with the three buttons you see here. For now, select "Options":

PRC and Taiwan language options buttons


The default keyboard for PRC and Singapore is Microsoft Pinyin. The default keyboard for Taiwan is Microsoft Bopomofo, but for Hong Kong it's Microsoft Quick (a quicker Cangjie). Click "Add a keyboard" to select another from the menu. A keyboard that has been selected can be removed by clicking on the name and selecting "Remove".

Language Options - select Chinese keyboards

"MS Bopomofo" supports Hanyu Pinyin in addition to Zhuyin Fuhao. On the next page I will show how to change the "Bopomofo" keyboard to Hanyu Pinyin, and on later pages I will also discuss using this IME for Simplified characters, plus using MS Pinyin for Traditional characters, as well as the display language, handwriting, and speech features.

The Cantonese Phonetic input method (Jyutping) was added in an automated update to Windows 10, but it cannot be selected from the menu shown above. See the CPIME FAQ page for help on installing this IME.


Now you can click on the name of each input method editor (IME) you've chosen, to get at the Options buttons. Most users of MS Bopomofo will want to read on to the next page, to learn how to switch that IME from Zhuyin to Pinyin. And on subsequent pages, we'll look into what else is in Options.

Chinese Pinyin IME Options buttons


Previous page:
Overview of Chinese features in Windows 8 and 10: fonts, IMEs, and more

Next pages:
Traditional character Pinyin input: two alternatives
Simplified character Pinyin input: the MSZY alternative
Chinese display language packs, handwriting input, and speech input
Advanced features: desktop language bar, IME Pad, hotkeys, and more
Help files - in English!
Missing, broken, and just plain lame Chinese features

Frequently asked questions:
How to enter the letter "ü" ("u" with an umlaut, the two dots above the letter)
How to open the candidate list in Microsoft Bopomofo
How to open the candidate list in Microsoft Pinyin
How to select the Cantonese Phonetic IME (CPIME)

See also:
Zhuyin input, symbols, & Zhuyin/Pinyin "ruby text" (Win7, but universal. Includes discussion of the MS Word Phonetic Guide and ruby fonts.)

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