Writing Chinese Under Windows 2000 Professional/XP

This is not intended to be a comprehensive manual to writing Chinese under Windows 2000 Professional/XP, but rather a quick and dirty guide to get someone new to Chinese computing going.


  1. Once Chinese language support and IME have been installed on a computer running Windows 2000 Professional (or Windows 98/95 for that matter), there should be a Language bar button on the right hand side of the taskbar at the bottom of the Windows desktop. If you left click on it, then the language input options you have installed should appear. Scroll to the language option you want (in this case Chinese), and left click to select it as an input option.

  2. Screenshots for the example below is taken from a computer running Windows 2000 Professional with the input editor Chinese (Simplified) - MS-Pinyin98 installed. The steps are similar for Windows XP. For differences between Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP, go to section (10). Otherwise, go to that next section.

  3. As an example, we will write the sentence "I am Chinese" in Chinese (wo shi zhongguo ren) in Microsoft Word. First open Word, then choose Chinese as in section (1). Note that on the right hand side of the taskbar, instead of , you have .

  4. You also get near the lower left corner of the desktop a menu for the options in Chinese (Simplified) - MS-Pinyin98.

    The default input mode is Chinese, as indicated by the button, the first on the menu. If you click on it, you change the input mode to English, as changes to  on the menu. Change the input mode back to Chinese by clicking on the toggle button . The fifth button on the left, , allows toggling between simplified and traditional Chinese characters (it is greyed out if the input mode is changed to English). If you click on , you switch from simplified to traditional characters, as indicated by the button . You can have both simplified and traditional characters in the same document!

  5. Be sure that the default mode is Chinese and the character mode is simplified. Type wo, and you get a prompt line interface popping up and offering a number of choices for wo. :

    More choices are available by clicking on the button to the far right. In this case we want the first choice. So hit 1 to select it, and you have:

  6. Type shi, and the prompt line interface pops up again:

    Type 1 to select the first choice.

  7. Then type zhong, and you have:

    Type 2 to select the 2nd choice offered. Note that some of the choices are compounds anticipating the user's possible future input.

  8. Note the dotted underline below zhongguo, indicating that this is a provisional selection.

    Hit the return key to accept it, since that is what you want. Then type ren:

  9. Type 1 to select the first option. Hit the return key to accept the choice. Then type a period, and you are done.

  10. The example above also applies to Windows XP. The differences between Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP in the implementation of Microsoft's Pinyin IME for Simplified Chinese are:

    A newer version (Microsoft Pinyin IME 3.0) is installed for Windows XP.

    (ii) The language bar by default is a floating bar at the top of the screen in Windows XP, whereas in Windows 2000 Professional, the language button is located on the right side of the taskbar at the bottom of the desktop. You can reduce the language bar to a language button on the taskbar by clicking on the minimize button (the top part of at the right side of the language bar).

    (iii) Microsoft Pinyin IME 3.0's option menu in Windows XP appears on the language bar at the top of the desktop.

    By default the toggle button for switching between simplified and traditional does not appear (unlike the menu bar for MS-Pinyin98 under Windows 2000 Professional). To enable it, click on the select button (the bottom part of at the right side of the language bar) for additional user selectable settings.

    Move the mouse to the option Charset to highlight it, and then click to select it. Now the option menu contains a button for toggling between simplified and traditional characters.

    To follow the example illustrating the inputting of Chinese text, go back to section (5), keeping in mind the differences in the display of the language bar/button and option menus.

  11. Anyone who is reasonably proficient in Chinese language input will take far fewer steps than the example given here. In fact, typing in woshizhongguoren and then a period, and hitting the return key will produce the same outcome. What we are demonstrating here is not the most efficient way to achieve the result, but rather some general principles: (i) with each syllable typed in in pinyin format, a prompt line interface pops up to offer choices that the user can accept by typing in the number correspoding to the desired option; (ii) the editor will anticipate possible word combinations on the basis of what has been typed so far to save time for the user; (iii) for a provisional choice indicated by a dotted underline, the user needs to hit the return key to save it.

    For more details on the features and options of this input method editor, look at Microsoft's own help files, or check out resources listed by Wai-keung Chung's comprehensive guide to CJK Language Computing.

    Please email me your comments, suggestions, and corrections.

All contents copyright 2002 Robert Y. Eng.All rights reserved.
With author's permission, republished in CLIEJ.