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Windows 8 Chinese Pinyin Setup

A Quick Start Guide to Using Pinyin Input for
Simplified AND Traditional Chinese Characters
in Non-Chinese Versions of Microsoft Windows 8

Other pages:
Intro  ◊  2. Pinyin for Traditional Chinese  ◊  3. Handwriting & Display Languages 

Related FAQ:
Which Chinese features are missing or broken in Windows 8 and 8.1?


This page is for anyone who needs a Pinyin input method to type Chinese characters in versions of Windows 8 released outside of China. See also my quick introduction to Chinese language features in Windows 8.

Windows 8 Chinese Pinyin input method example


1. Enabling Chinese Input Methods in Windows 8


Windows 8 charmsDesktop SettingsThe Control Panel in the Desktop is still the best way to add languages, even on a Windows 8 RT tablet. I don't recommend using Search, especially since Windows 8.1, as the "Add a language" option offered in Search will now take you only to the tablet side of the settings. Some of the desktop language options you may want could be inaccessible from there.

To open the Control Panel, go to the Desktop, and if you have a keyboard press <Windows> + I. You can also hover your pointer over the upper or lower right corner (1), or if using a tablet swipe from the right. Then in the Charms panel click or tap "Settings" (2). Then select "Control Panel" (3).


On the Control Panel, under "Clock, Language and Region" select "Add a language":

Windows 8 Control Panel - Add a language

If you are using a tablet and find this difficult, it does get easier in the next panel. But if you have already completed Windows 8 setup on another PC or tablet, you can sync language preferences to your new device. Here's the official Microsoft page on syncing Windows 8 settings. arrow - new site


The Language panel is more finger-friendly in Windows 8, but there are still a few text links to poke at when adjusting various options. When the panel opens for the first time, you'll probably see only one language.

Select "Add a language" (yes, again) to go to the next step:

Windows 8 Language Panel - Add a language


This is where setup gets truly different from older versions of Windows: big square buttons to tap on, instead of long lists of little checkboxes. Scroll down to the Chinese IMEs, then double-click or tap "Chinese (Simplified)" and/or "Chinese (Traditional)".

Windows 8 Add Languages

Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Traditional) have lines on their right, to indicate you have multiple choices inside. And indeed, you can select more than one "regional variant".

The Simplified choices are PRC or Singapore, which in Windows 8.0 offer only the Microsoft Pinyin (MSPY SimpleFast) input method. In the Windows 8.1 Preview, both regional variants also offer Google Pinyin and Microsoft Wubi.


For Traditional characters it is best to select "Traditional, Hong Kong SAR", or Macao SAR. This is because, except on Windows 8 editions sold in Taiwan, the Taiwan regional variant does not include the Traditional Chinese display language pack and handwriting input. If you've already selected Taiwan, the only way to add Hong Kong or Macau is to remove Taiwan. (Gosh, that sounds terrible. :-)

Windows 8 Chinese Traditional Regional Variants


After selecting Hong Kong or Macau, you'll find that the IME defaults to the Quick input method (a version of Cangjie popular in Hong Kong). To select Pinyin or Zhuyin input, change to Microsoft Bopomofo (formerly called New Phonetic until 8.1). In the Language Panel, select this region's "Options":

Change language preferences - HK options


Select "Add an input method":



Then select Microsoft Bopomofo in Windows 8.1 (formerly called Microsoft New Phonetic until Windows 8), and/or other input methods as you wish. I will show you how to change the keyboard from Zhuyin to Pinyin on the next page.

Windows 8 traditional Chinese input methods


In Windows 8.1 you can follow similar steps to add the new Microsoft Wubi stroke-based input method for the mainland and Singapore regions as well:

Windows 8.1 simplified Chinese input methods


Windows 8 IME menuIn the last screen shot here, you see me opening the IME menu from the Desktop Taskbar. Notice now that you've enabled more than one language, you can open the Language control panel from the "Language preferences" link at the bottom of this menu.

The usual language-switching hotkeys like <Alt>+<Shift> also work, and Windows 8 adds a new hotkey that pops up this menu higher on your screen: <Windows>+<Shift>

(Hitting the <Windows> key alone will take you back to the Start screen. Hit it again to go back to the Desktop. Or vice-versa. This is driving me crazy...)


Next pages:

2. Windows 8 Hanyu Pinyin input for Traditional Chinese

3. Windows 8 Chinese handwriting and display language packs

See also:

Windows 8 Chinese features summary

Windows 8 and 8.1 missing/broken Chinese features


Frequently asked questions:
How do I 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

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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