|New Free Tools for Faster Input of
Chinese Text into Computer
The technologies of Pinyin based Input Method Editor (IME) for inputting Chinese text into computer have been
advancing rapidly recently. Several software tools are now available, free and have the capability of Whole
Sentence Pinyin Input (整句拼音输入) using abbreviated Pinyin Spelling (使用简拼). Abbreviated Pinyin Spelling
(简拼) means that the user does not have to type the complete Pinyin spelling of each Chinese character in the
sentence, but needs to type only the first letter of Pinyin spelling of each Chinese character in the sentence.
The trend of Chinese IME technologies is advancing toward the goal of "One Key Stroke For One Chinese
Character" (一键一字的目标) by using the intelligence, the large and adaptive databases and the fast
processing power of computers.
In using these new Chinese input tools, the longer the Chinese sentence, the easier and the faster it is to input.
The reasons leading to such counter-intuitive advantage are:
(A) Inputting a single Chinese character by Pinyin has very large ambiguity in that there are usually many
different Chinese characters that have the same Pinyin (同音字), especially the same first letter of Pinyin. The
user has to stare at a very long list (e.g., 70) of possible candidates to select the correct one Chinese
character as his/her intended input of single Chinese character.
(B) On the other hand, when the sentence is long consisting of many Chinese characters, there are usually only
one or two possible sentences that have exactly the same sequence of 简拼. Then it is much easier and faster
for the user to select the correct sentence out of the very short list of only one or two candidates in the output.
This advantage makes it much easier and faster to input the entire Chinese sentence or phrase instead of
struggling on the tedious work of inputting one Chinese character at a time.
Some examples of such Pinyin IMEs available on Internet for Free download are newer (2007 or 2010) version
of Microsoft IME, Google Pinyin IME (谷歌拼音输入法), Sogou Pinyin IME (搜狗拼音输入法), and 紫光拼音输
入法. 紫光拼音输入法 originated from 清華大學 in Beijing. Sogou Pinyin IME is from 搜狐公司 providing Sogou
Search Engine service for Chinese users on Internet.
If the user does not know the pronunciation of certain special Chinese characters such that the user cannot use
Pinyin to input, these Pinyin based tools provide simple supplemental input methods using pen-stroke (笔划) or
radicals (部首) of Chinese characters to input such special characters as described in Section 9.
2. Sample Chinese Inputs
For example, when I type
as my input on the keyboard. The PC screen displays what I have just typed of a string of English alphabetic
letters on a horizontal line (shown above). On the second horizontal line just below this line of English alphabetic
letters is the Chinese sentence:
as the first choice plus several other possible choices on the same second horizontal line for me to choose. In
this example, "w" is the first letter of Pinyin, "wo3", for 我, "m" is the first letter of "men" for 們, and "z" is
the first letter of "zhu4" for 祝, etc. This example shows that I need to type only the first letter of Pinyin
of each of the nine Chinese characters to get the nine-character Chinese sentence 我們祝大家新年快樂
as the output, thereby achieving the goal of One-Key-Stroke-for-one-Chinese-Character and the goal
Furthermore, I do not have to remember accurately the complete Pinyin spelling of each Chinese
character. All I need is just the first letter of the Pinyin for each Chinese character - that is all it takes
to input an entire Chinese sentence or phrase by using such smart IMEs.
Similarly, when I type
as the input, I get
as the first choice plus several other possible choices for me to choose on the second horizontal line.
This capability makes it much easier and faster for users to input Chinese text.
2.1. Down Arrow and Up Arrow for More Choices
On the horizontal line of the list of choices for you to chose the correct output, if none of the items
listed on this line is the correct one, you can look at the right side of the horizontal line under the
Goggle logo, there is a small down arrow and a small up arrow. If you click on either down arrow or up
arrow, you will see additional lists of choices beyond those few choices on the original horizontal line.
3. Smart IME with Adaptive Databases:
My preliminary understanding is that Google Pinyin IME has two large databases to store huge amount
of Chinese sentences, phrases and words. It also uses its powerful and fast search capability to
search these two databases to match your typed "Whole Sentence Pinyin Input with abbreviated Pinyin
spelling" (整句拼音输入中使用简拼) to produce your intended Chinese sentence or phrase very fast.
One of the two databases is the public database that collects the huge amount of Chinese sentences
and phrases from huge amount of public Chinese information that Google can access. The second
database is personalized database of the user so that Google Pinyin IME can learn the usage pattern
of the user and becomes smarter and smarter to match the input of the user faster and more
accurately as time goes. These two databases are not static but are updated constantly. The more you
use it, the smarter the tool becomes to match your intended Chinese sentence or phrase accurately
Furthermore, the accumulated intelligence in this personalized database is not confined just in your
own PC. By using your Google G-Mail login ID and your Google G-Mail Login password, this
personalized database can be synchronized through Google server such that the smart personalized
database is available to you at any other PC that you can access. In this way, you can input Chinese
text very fast not only on your own PC, but also at any other PC that has the Free Google Pinyin IME
installed and has Internet access for you to synchronize the personalized database.
Such new, intelligent and powerful IMEs, make it much easier and faster for users to input Chinese
text into computers. It shifts the heavy burden of Chinese input work to the smart computer to make
the life much easier for the users. They are also very useful on wireless smart phones where the
keyboards are very small.
Sometimes this small Google IME Toolbar may be hidden such that you see nothing after successful
installation. In such case, you need to press Ctrl + Shift + S keys on your keyboard simultaneously so that the
Google IME Toolbar will show up. In case if pressing Ctrl + Shift + S keys simultaneously still cannot bring out
the Google IME Tool Bar, one may try additional methods described in Section 4.2.8. to solve the problem.
4.2.3. Toggle Switch Between English Input and Chinese Input
The second small icon from the left side of Google IME Toolbar is 中 which means the system is ready for your
input of Chinese text. If you click on this 中 icon, it will change into 英 which means that the system is now
ready for you to input English text. If you click on this 英 icon again, it will change back to 中 and the system is
ready for your input of Chinese text. In other words, after successful installation, you do not have to launch
Google Pinyin IME in order to use it. Google Pinyin IME is always there ready for your input of either English
text or Chinese text depending on which of the two icons of 中 or 英 is shown on Google IME Toolbar.
4.2.4. Where Can I Use Google Pinyin IME To Input Chinese Text?
Since after the installation of Google Pinyin IME, it is always there ready for your Chinese input or English input,
you can input Chinese text anywhere you can input English text. All you need to do is to click on the 英 icon on
the Google IME Toolbar to switch from English input mode to Chinese input mode. This means you can input
Chinese text directly in an e-mail text, or a Microsoft Word page, or a PowerPoint chart, or an Excel Spread
4.2.5. More Information on Google Pinyin IME
You can also click on other small icons in this Google IME Toolbar to open up new dialog windows for
you to set some parameters and options to optimise these settings to suit your usage. Detailed
instructions for setting these parameters and options are available at:
Some additional highly desirable features and capabilities of Google Pinyin IME are explained in the
four websites listed above. For example, the intelligence in these Pinyin IMEs is smart enough to be
very forgiving to allow fuzzy and imprecise input from users in that s and sh are interchangeable, z
and zh are interchangeable, c and ch are interchangeable for those users whose Chinese accents
make them difficult to distinguish these Pinyins precisely. This capability is roughly equivalent to some
smart English word processors that can automatically detect and correct the input spelling errors of
the users. Similarly, the Google English Search Engine can also automatically detect and correct the
input spelling errors in search keywords from the users.
Help menu and support for Google Pinyin IME are available at:
4.2.6. Toggle Switch Between Traditional Chinese Character and Simplified Chinese Character
If you click on the right most small icon on the Google IME Toolbar, a vertical list shows up with many
parameters for you to specify. The third line from the top is where you specify whether you want
Traditional Chinese characters or Simplified Chinese characters.
4.2.7. An Example of Smart and Adaptive IME
A friend typed the 简拼 to try to input 餵野鳥 using Google Pinyin IME. But what she got was 喂野鳥. She
was frustrated and misunderstood that Google Pinyin IME has only the simplified Chinese character 喂, but has
no Traditional Chinese character 餵 in its database. However, when she tried harder by using the up and down
arrows described in Section 2.1 and scrolled through the additional lists of possible candidates for her Pinyin
input, she found that Google has the Traditional Chinese character 餵, but it appeared way behind in the long
list. What happens here is that 喂 is used more frequently in mainland China, so it appears early in the long list
whereas 餵 is rarely used in mainland China, so it appears way behind in the original long list.
However, once my friend selected 餵 as her intended input, Google Pinyin IME is smart enough to recognize
that 餵 is the preference of my friend and immediately updated her personalized database such that 餵 will
appear as the first choice in the new long list for her next time and in the future if she inputs the Pinyin for 餵
Therefore, as she uses the Google Pinyin IME more often, the Chinese input becomes easier and faster for her
because most of what she wants to input appear in the first choice position in the list for her.
4.2.8. Strange Disappearance of Google Pinyin IME from PC and A Solution
Since November 2011, many users of Google Pinyin IME have been experiencing a strange but fatal problem
that the Tool Bar of Google Pinyin IME disappeared from their PC screens such that they could not use Google
Pinyin IME. Even pressing Ctrl + Shift + S keys on the keyboard simultaneously can not bring the Tool Bar of
Google Pinyin IME back to the PC screen. The frustration of many users of Google Pinyin IME are described
on the following User Forum websites:
After suffering from this problem for a while, a friend, A. L. Tsang, told me a solution is to go into the Control
Panel in the PC to find Google Pinyin IME and to re-activate it. It appears that some strange thing happened
that de-activated Google Pinyin IME in the PC. We do not know what caused the de-activation of Google Pinyin
The solution to re-activate Google Pinyin IME in the PC running Microsoft Windows Vista is the following:
Control Panel -> Clock, Language and Region -> Regional and Language Options -> Keyboards and
Languages -> Change Keyboards -> Click on “Add” -> Scroll down the “List of Add Input Language” to find
Google Pinyin IME -> Click on “Google Pinyin IME” so that the check Box for Google Pinyin IME is checked ->
Click “O.K.” and close out all the open Windows and sub-Windows in Control Panel.
However, since late January 2012, if one clicks on the "EN" icon on the Task Bar at the lower right corner of
PC screen, and select "CH for Simplified Chinese, (PRC)", the "EN" icon turns into a Language Bar that looks
If one clicks on the small icon just to the right of "CH" icon, it gives two options: (1) Microsoft Pinyin IME or (2)
Google Pinyin IME. By clicking on the Google Pinyin IME among these two options, the Google Pinyin IME Tool
Bar will appear so that user can use the Google Pinyin IME.
It seems that since November 2011, Microsoft has been updating and enhancing Microsoft Pinyin IME. Such
updating and revisions of Microsoft Pinyin IME may be causing such strange problems on Google Pinyin IME on
the same PC because Microsoft Pinyin IME and Google Pinyin IME are sharing some portion of the Language
However, on April 14, 2012, when I clicked on the small icon just to the right of the "CH" icon, it gave only one
option of Microsoft Pinyin IME. The second option of Google Pinyin IME did not show up. So, I had to go into
the Control Panel to re-activate the Google Pinyin IME using the procedure described above.
4.3 Sogou Pinyin IME
Sogou Pinyin IME is available for free download at:
5. Coexistence of Google Pinyin IME and Microsoft IME
Google Pinyin IME coexists with Microsoft IME on the same PC. If you click on EN icon and choose CH
for Chinese input, the EN icon will become CH icon. Furthermore, there is a very thin and short vertical
blue line just to the right of CH icon. If you click on this thin blue line, both Google Pinyin IME and
Microsoft IME will show up as two options for you to choose. Google IME Toolbar may also show up.
In case if Google IME Toolbar still does not show up at this point, you need to press Ctrl + Shift + S
keys on your keyboard simultaneously so that the Google IME Toolbar will show up.
Since Microsoft is updating and enhancing Microsoft Pinyin IME in December 2011 and January 2012
timeframe, the very thin and short vertical blue line just next to the CH icon has been changed to
become the Language Bar as shown and described in Section 4.2.
If you have not activated Microsoft IME in an old PC, it seems that if you download and install Google
Pinyin IME into such old PC with old Windows, then the hidden old version of Microsoft IME will also
be activated and it will coexist with the Google Pinyin IME in the same old PC.
6. Speed of Chinese Input
Traditionally, we know that input Chinese text into computer is much more difficult and much slower
than input English text for the same information content. However, these smart Pinyin IMEs have the
potential for you to input Chinese text faster than input English text if you become familiar with one of
these new free tools.
For example, to input Jiao Tong University for 交通大學, English input requires 20 key strokes
(including 2 blank spaces) whereas smart Pinyin IMEs require only 4 key strokes of jtdx which are the
first letters of Pinyins for each of the four Chinese characters. It is 4 key strokes vs. 20 key strokes
such that Chinese input may become faster than English input.
7. Zhuyin (注音)-To-Pinyin Mapping Table:
Some people are familiar with Zhuyin (注音) but not familiar with Pinyin (拼音) for spelling of Chinese
characters. A Table for mapping Zhuyin-to-Pinyin is available at the following websites:
Such mapping table is helpful to those people to start learning to use Google Pinyin IME, or Microsoft
IME or Sogou IME or 紫光拼音输入法 for faster input of Chinese text.
Initially such users may depend on this mapping table. As time goes, these users may become familiar
enough to memorize this mapping table or familiar with Pinyin itself such that they no longer need the
mapping table anymore.
7.1. Zhuyin Soft Keyboard in Google Pinyin IME
For people who wants to use Zhuyin, Google Pinyin IME does provide Zhuyin soft keyboard on the PC
screen. To activate this soft keyboard, you click on the right most small icon on the Google Pinyin IME
Toolbar, a vertical list shows up with many parameters for you to specify. The 8th line from the top is
soft keyboard. If you click on the 8th line, a new vertical list shows up with many different soft
keyboards, including Zhuyin soft keyboard, for you to choose.
Another way to get at the soft keyboard is to click on the small icon that looks like a small keyboard on
the Google Pinyin IME Tool Bar. Then a soft keyboard will show up on the PC screen. This is one of
several possible soft keyboards available in Google Pinyin IME. If it is not the Zhuyin soft key board,
you can right click on that small keyboard icon again on Google Pinyin IME Tool Bar, then a vertical list
of many different soft keyboards, including Zhuyin soft keyboard, will show up for you to choose.
8. Introduction to Pinyin
For people who know Chinese language but are not familiar with Pinyin, a concise simple introduction
to Pinyin symbols and how to pronounce those symbols are available in
(a) the first 4 pages of Appendix in, and
(b) the table of 汉语拼音音节索引 near the front of
Xinhua Zidian (新华字典) published by 商务印书馆 in Beijing. This Chinese dictionary is available in
many Chinese book stores in USA. The first table in the Appendix in this dictionary is also the mapping
table between Pinyin and Zhuyin.
The following website provides an "English Oriented" introduction to Pinyin symbols and their
4. Free Download and Installation:
4.1. Microsoft IME
Microsoft English Windows Operation Systems (OS), such as English Windows XP and English Windows
Vista, come with Free Microsoft IME. However this free Microsoft IME is hidden and in hibernation in English
Windows because most users of English Windows do not need and do not use this IME for inputting text in
foreign languages. On the other hand, people who want to use the hidden Microsoft IME in English Windows
have to go through a procedure to activate the Microsoft IME. The procedure to activate Microsoft IME is
described in the following websites:
For Windows Vista:
For Windows XP:
If you have already activated Microsoft IME and have been using Microsoft IME, then you are familiar with the
small Icon of EN at the lower right corner of the tool bar on your PC screen. EN stands for English as one of
the language options. If you click on this EN icon, you see a small list of options of other foreign languages
such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. that you have activated in addition to EN for you to choose.
The old version of Microsoft IME in my 8-year old laptop PC with 8-year old Windows XP does not have the
capability of Whole Sentence Pinyin Input. But the newer version (Version 2007 or newer) of Microsoft IME on
my three year old PC with Windows Vista has the new capability of Whole Sentence Pinyin Input. More
information about the capabilities of and the location to download Version 2007 of Microsoft IME are available
at the following Microsoft website:
4.2. Google Pinyin IME
4.2.1. Website to Download Google Pinyin IME
The free software of Google Pinyin IME (谷歌拼音输入法) can be downloaded at:
4.2.2. Information on Google Pinyin IME
The Chinese descriptions of the capabilities of Google Pinyin IME are available at:
The English introduction and descriptions of the capabilities of Google Pinyin IME are available at:
After the installation, Google Pinyin IME does NOT show up on the PC screen as a new big program for you to
open to do something. It also does NOT show up as a new program in the list of All Programs in your PC for
you to launch either. But you may see the small Google IME Toolbar at the right lower part of task bar on the
PC screen that looks like:
I thank my friend, Edmond Hong, for (1) introducing the powerful capabilities of Google Pinyin IME (谷
歌拼音输入法) to me and (2) pointing out that Version 2007 (or newer) of Microsoft IME also has the
capability for Whole Sentence Pinyin Input (整句拼音输入) using abbreviated Pinyin spelling (使用简
拼) and the website for information and to download Version 2007 of Microsoft IME. His demo and
consultation to help me in installing and learning to use Google Pinyin IME are highly appreciated. I
thank another friend, Chi-Sing Chang, for bringing my attention to this new feature of Voice Input in
the new version of Google Pinyin IME.
This web page originally appeared on December 5, 2009. The most recent update is on April 14, 2012
9. Some Tips for Faster Chinese Input:
9.1. Use Chinese Phrase to Find a Chinese Character (以詞找字)
Sometime there may be a particular Chinese character that is more difficult for you to input quickly. The
temptation is to try to spell out the entire Pinyin as accurately as you can to try to get that difficult character.
However, it is well known that many Chinese characters have tens or even hundreds of homonyms (同音字).
This means that even if you carefully spell out the entire Pinyin accurately, you are still facing a very long list
of homonyms for you to scroll through carefully and patiently and to stare at each homonym to try to find the
correct character that you want. This process is often tedious, time consuming and frustrating. What this
means is that going from abbreviated Pinyin (簡拼) to complete Pinyin (全拼) is NOT an efficient and fast
method to try to input that particular Chinese character.
Instead, a more efficient method is to use a popular, commonly used Chinese phrase or sentence that
contains that particular Chinese character to get it by (1) using the abbreviated Pinyin to get that popular
Chinese phrase or sentence easily and quickly, then (2) deleting the unnecessary characters leaving only that
particular character that you want. This method of 以詞找字 usually is more efficient and faster to find that
For example, if you want to input the Chinese character, 誼, by typing yi, then you will have to scroll through
and to stare at a very long list of hundreds of homonyms (同音字) to try to find the correct one. But if you
type lyh, then 聯誼會 pops up as the first choice immediately. You take this first choice of 3-character phrase
and delete 聯 and 會 leaving 誼 as your desired character. In this way, you avoid having to spend a lot of time
and effort to deal with the long list of hundreds of homonyms (同音字).
9.2. Use Chinese Pen-strokes (笔划) or Radicals (部首) to Input Chinese Character:
There are some special Chinese characters that you do not know how to pronounce those characters and,
therefore, do not know the Pinyin for those characters. In such special case, Pinyin is useless for inputting
such special character. For such case, Google Pinyin provides a supplemental method to input such special
character by using the Chinese pen-strokes (笔划) or the radicals (部首) of the character to input. This
supplemental method is described on the Google website at:
The trick in this supplemental method is that it defines 6 English alphabetic letters as codes (代码) to
represent the pen-strokes in Chinese characters: h(横), s(竖), p(撇), n(捺), z(折), d(点). 依次输入该字的各个
笔划。其中，n 和 d 是相同的。You type u first to tell the computer that the string of English alphabetic letters
following this u are Chinese pen-stroke codes in the supplemental input mode, then you type these pen-stroke
codes to "write" the Chinese character.
Similarly, the next paragraph on that Google web page describes how to use Chinese radicals (部首) to input
Chinese characters. For some Chinese characters, people knows the pronunciation for each radical in the
complete character but do not know the pronunciation for the complete character. In this supplemental
method, again you type u to tell the computer that the string of English alphabetic letters following this u are
Pinyins for the radicals in the supplemental input mode, then you type the Pinyins for the radicals in the
character to "write" the character. Examples are given on the Google web page above.
9.3. Use Google Translate from English to Chinese
If you know both Chinese and English languages and if you are having difficulty in inputting a particular
Chinese character, you can type it in English word and use Google "Translate" service to translate the English
word into the corresponding Chinese character. For example, if you type "Home", Google Translate will
translate it into 家。To use Google Translate service, open up the Google Home page on the Internet, on the
horizontal list of Google services near the top, click on "More", then click on "Translate" to open up the
Google Translate service page.
10. Google Pinyin Input Method for Apple's Mac Computers
Originally, the free Google Pinyin Input software was available for Windows Operating System based
computers only. On November 7, 2010, the following website indicates that free Google Pinyin Input software
is now also available for Apple's Mac computers:
This website also provides a button for free download of Google Pinyin Input software for Mac.
The Wikipedia web page at:
also provides some information on Google Pinyin Input software for Mac computers.
However, I have no experience in using Mac computers.
11. New Voice Input Feature in Google Pinyin IME
Beginning in March 2012, the new version of free Google Pinyin IME has an important new feature of
Voice Input which is network-based in order to provide highly accurate matches. The Google Pinyin
IME Tool Bar also changed slightly and becomes the following:
The second small icon from the right side of the Google Pinyin IME Tool Bar is now a microphone
icon. If you plug a microphone with USB connector into the USB connector port of your PC and use
PC mouse to click on this small microphone icon, then a short line of text will show up just above Google
Pinyin IME Tool Bar inviting you to talk and the computer is ready to take your voice input. You may
speak in either English or Chinese depending on whether the small language icon is 英 or 中 on the
Google Pinyin IME Tool Bar. If the small language icon is 中 and you speak Chinese into the
microphone, then the computer screen will show the Chinese character, or the Chinese phrase or the
Chinese sentence that you have just spoken. Similarly, if the small language icon is 英 and you
speak in English into the microphone, then the computer screen will show the English word, or the
English phrase or the English sentence that you have just spoken.
This is a new experience of Voice Input for me. The Voice Input feature of Google Pinyin IME is using
the powerful capability of its network mainframe computer on the server so that it has powerful
learning capability to learn each user’s voice and accent to be able to recognize the voice of each
user accurately. I probably will have to spend some more time talking to this system so that Google
Voice Input system will have enough time and experience to learn to recognize my voice input more
accurately. I guess that such system probably also has a personalized database to accumulate its
learning experience of my voice so that the more I use it, the more it can recognize my voice
Some descriptions of the learning process with the use of personalized voice recognition to improve
the accuracy of voice recognition can be seen at the following websites:
A note about corrections, learning and improvement in accuracy in voice recognition:
When you speak, the voice recognition system presents to you on the PC screen what it is that the
system thought you said. When there are errors and you make corrections, the system captures
those corrections to improve its accuracy. Therefore, the voice recognition system learns to improve
its accuracy on your voice through the corrections that you make on its errors. In other words, if
you do not make any correction on its errors, then there is no improvement in its accuracy to
recognize your voice.
Once it is installed, Google Pinyin IME updates itself automatically and periodically. This new version
with Voice Input feature came into my PC through this automatic update process. I did NOT have to
download and to install this new version manually.
In case if you see overlapped lines of text or some lines of text become obscured behind a picture on this
web page, please change the page magnification (zoom) factor to eliminate such problems by pressing these
two keys "Ctrl +" simultaneously or these two keys "Ctrl -" simultaneously. Depending on your PC setting, it
may be necessary to reduce the magnification factor several steps down in order to eliminate the overlap and
obstructed text lines.
Please press the F11 key (Fn key and F11 key on laptop PC) on your keyboard to get full-screen view of
photos and web page. Pressing F11 key again will return to your normal screen with various tool bars.