Pinyin Power

Who knew it could be so easy?

 I have two favourite English to Chinese online translation tools: and  These sites are bookmarked on all of my computers (yes I have more than one, and they all have names, too).  So, if I wanted to impress folks back home, I might type up a few phrases, run the translation tool, and the copy paste the characters into my mail.  Unfortunately, I never impressed my Chinese teachers this way.

For an embarassingly long time, I assumed this was the easiest way to write Chinese on my computers without reinstalling the OS or installing a fancy keyboard.  It never occurred to me to just ask a local person.  It finally came to me while chatting online with a vendor at – who happened to be typing rapidly in both English and Chinese.  How is it that you type Chinese so quickly, I asked?  I just type pinyin, she replied.

Wait just one second, I can type pinyin too:  Ni hao! Zai jian! Does this mean that this can effortlessly become 你好!再见!?

The answer is YES!  And the beauty of it is that you don’t have to change any hardware, and you don’t have to give up any English on your software.  How is this possible?  Well, if you have Microsoft Windows, then this website is an excellent guide to enabling pinyin input on your computer:  If you have a Mac, even better, you don’t have to install any updates, and the built-in language support for pinyin is excellent.  I don’t currently have a website that explains how to set up it, but when I find one, I will post it!

Ever since I enabled pinyin input on my computers, I am so much more motivated to learn to read and write.  I gleefully shot off some rudimentary messages in Chinese.  One of my “lucky” correspondants wrote me back a very encouraging message: 看见你写汉字我真高兴!

I’m feeling rather 兴奋 myself thank you very much. 🙂

About the author:

Hi, I’m Gina, mother of Magnus.  I’m a Canadian ex-pat living in Shanghai since 2009.  I have a computer engineering background which I have used to work in the software and hardware industry for the past 10 years.  I love sports, good food, singing, travelling, reading, and spending time with my family.
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One response to “Pinyin Power

  1. Hi Computer Mom,

    Thanks a lot for writing this. Since I arrived to Shanghai I was looking for some pinyin input for my MAC and could not find it or didnt understand how to install it.
    Last Friday I was very succesfull and got some apps.
    You are right, since I have this pinyin input in my iphone and MAC, I am learning much motivated and easier.
    Thanks again and 再见!

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