Windows 7 Chinese input is very easy to enable and use, especially compared to earlier versions of Windows. You can use Chinese input in the English language version of Windows 7, regardless of which Windows package you’ve got (Starter, Home Premium, Win 7 Professional, Ultimate etc.)
Enabling Windows 7 Chinese input
The first option for Chinese input in Windows 7 is to use Windows’ built-in IME (input method). To do this:
- Go to Control Panel and click on the ‘Clock, Language and Region’ section.
- A window will pop-up. In that window, go to the ‘Keyboards and Languages’ tab.
- Click the ‘Change keyboards…’ button at the top of that tab. (Don’t worry, this won’t disable or change your English keyboard.)
- Another window will appear showing the currently available keyboards. Click the ‘Add…’ button.
- Another window appears showing input languages you can add. Scroll down to the Chinese language you want, e.g. Chinese (Simplified, PRC).
- When you click on the language, a tree of input options for it will appear. Select the one you want (probably ‘phonetic’ or ‘new phonetic’).
That will enable Windows 7 Chinese input. If you selected phonetic input, you probably wanted pinyin, but the default is zhuyin. To change this:
- Click on the Chinese keyboard in the ‘Text Services and Input Languages’ windows.
- Click on the ‘Properties…’ button.
- In the new window that appears, click the drop-down menu under ‘Keyboard layout:‘.
- Select ‘HanYu Pinyin’.
Now you’ve got the default Windows 7 Chinese pinyin input method enabled.
Using Windows 7 Chinese input
To use the Chinese input method, you click on the little language icon down in the bottom right of your screen. It’s the little box in the task-bar that says ‘EN’ or ‘CH’ etc. When you click that icon, a list of available keyboards (input methods) appears. Just select the language you want to type in and off you go. You can change it back to English at any time by clicking the icon and selecting English from the list again.
Windows 7 Chinese input: the easy way
The above method will let you switch on the default Chinese input method for Windows 7. If you want an easier and better method, though, just use Google Pinyin. Don’t be intimidated by the Chinese on that page if you can’t read it. It’s just a standard installer as you might expect - you can install it easily by guessing which buttons to press!
Once you’ve installed it, you can enable high-quality Chinese input by pressing ctrl + space at any time. Then use the shift key to switch between Chinese and English. In my view this is a much better set-up than the default Windows 7 Chinese input.