How do I type Chinese on my Mac?


After installing a Chinese keyboard, click on the input menu (the flag or Pinyin symbol 拼) in the menu bar at the top of the screen, then select the Pinyin keyboard you have installed.

Type the pinyin for the character you want, then select the correct character from the window by clicking on it and pressing the spacebar. Alternatively, you can press the corresponding number and then the spacebar.


If the first suggestion that comes up is correct, you don’t need to click anything - pressing the spacebar alone defaults to this option.

You can also move between the options using the left and right arrow keys.

There is a small downwards arrow to the far right of the box that expands and provides more possible characters.

With the Pinyin keyboard, you can switch between English and Chinese using the Caps Lock key.

Trackpad handwriting 

After installing the ‘Trackpad Handwriting’ input source, you can use the trackpad to enter Chinese characters and punctuation with your finger.

Choose ‘Handwriting’ from the Input menu bar.


Use your finger to draw a character on the trackpad. Matching characters will appear, with the closest match in the upper left corner.


To select a character, tap the trackpad in the location that corresponds with the item that appears in the candidate bar.

If you don’t see the character you want,  tap the Delete button in the upper-right corner of the Trackpad Handwriting window or press the Delete key on the keyboard. Then, try writing the character again.

When the Trackpad Handwriting window is open, you can’t use the pointer. To use the arrow without closing the window, press the Escape key. To resume handwriting, click anywhere in the Trackpad Handwriting window. To close the window, press Control - Shift - Space bar or click the x in the top-left corner of the window.


The Pinyin and Handwriting keyboards allow you to type the Chinese language by spelling out the Chinese characters’ pronunciation with the Roman alphabet or drawing the characters with your own handwriting. 

Tip: Some Chinese pinyin words are spelled using ‘ü’ which you might not have on your keyboard. To type ‘ü,’ type the letter ‘v’ instead. For example, if you want the character 女 (nü), typing ‘nu’ won’t bring up the right character, you will have to type ‘nv.’ J, Q, X, and Y are never followed by an ‘ü,’ so you don’t need to type ‘v’ after these letters.

Updated on: 21/06/2024

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