Taiwan Pinyin

So you’ve set up your Mac to let you input Chinese characters. But what if you wanted to write Chinese using the Latin alphabet, i.e. pinyin? Since writing pinyin correctly requires the appropriate tone marks for flat, rising, falling-rising, and falling sounds (¯ ´ ˇ `), we need to configure your Mac to support them. Let me show you how…


The setup is quick and easy.

  1. Open up System Preferences.
  2. Go to Language & Text.
  3. Select the Input Sources tab.
  4. Scroll down the list until you find an input method called U.S. Extended, then put a check mark next to it. (See below)

How to Type Pinyin in Mac OS X

Now that you’ve added the input method, you’re ready to start using pinyin. If you’ve been typing with the regular U.S. input setting, you can now remove it and just stick with U.S. Extended because the former is more or less the same (correct me if I’m wrong) except without the added keyboard shortcuts for special characters.

Mac OS X Input Methods

How to Use the Tone Marks

Tone 1 (flat) mā — Option + a, then hit a vowel key
Tone 2 (rising) má — Option + e, then hit a vowel key
Tone 3 (falling-rising) mǎ — Option + v, then hit a vowel key
Tone 4 (falling) mà — Option + `, then hit a vowel key

ǚ — Option + V, then hit V (submitted by QA)
ǜ — Option + `, then hit V (submitted by QA)

So if you wanted to get ě you’d first hold down the Option key and v, then release them, and hit e.

If you have any questions, let me know—down below.

AND if you’re a web developer and want to allow your users easily use pinyin tone marks on your website or app, you are more than welcome to use my JavaScript pinyin conversion tool.

Update: If you want something simpler, there’s a Kickstarter project for a pinyin input method that’s currently being developed for the Mac.