Tag Archives: iOS

How to type pinyin on the iPhone or iPad

It took me a while to figure out how to type pinyin on the iPhone and iPad (iOS). Note that I’m not talking about the pinyin input method used to type actual Chinese characters, but how to type “nǐhǎo”, tone marks and all.

The trick is that you can actually type tone marks with iOS’s Simplified Chinese keyboard. Simply hold down the letter that you want to add a tone mark to and it will pop up variations of that letter with the possible tone marks. fēichánghǎo!

Pinyin tones on iOS's Chinese keyboard.

Of course, this keyboard is normally used to type actual Chinese characters, but once you start adding tone marks, it gets out of the way and doesn’t try to transform your pinyin.

If you haven’t enabled the “Simplified Chinese (pinyin)” keyboard already, you can do so by:

  1. going to Settings ⇒ General ⇒ Keyboard ⇒ Keyboards,
  2. clicking “Add New Keyboard…”, and
  3. choosing “Chinese – Simplified (pinyin)”.

I’m sure this would work with the “Chinese Traditional (pinyin)” keyboard too. You should now be able to switch keyboards using the globe icon near to the left of the space bar.

For a potentially faster alternative, there is a dedicated app out there that looks like it would be good for typing pinyin quickly, but it’s not free and is a separate app rather than a keyboard mode. This means you’d need to switch apps and copy and paste.

Typing pinyin is something I commonly need to do because I like to write up my hand-written notes and printed sheets from my teacher and put them into Evernote. Hopefully this tip will be helpful for other students out there too! Let me know if you have any other tips.

Unfortunately the situation for typing pinyin on Android devices is quite a bit harder to do 🙁

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