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How to Type in Pinyin With Tone Marks on iOS, Android, and Windows

Learning pinyin is one of the most basic and important parts of learning Chinese. Pinyin is the official romanization system for standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore.

When learning pinyin, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in the language’s environment. For example, as many of us live by our smartphones, tablets, laptops, or computers today, you can make the most out of technology simply by typing in pinyin. 

You’re probably wondering how to type in pinyin with the correct tone marks. Some people simply put the tone number at the end of the pinyin, for example, “ni3 hao3”. This way does the trick, but the result doesn’t quite look as nice and neat as typing “nǐ hǎo.” Other people just use Google Translate, but that’s a long process and does nothing to help you learn the correct tones!

That’s why in this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to type in pinyin with tone marks with the most common operating systems, including iOS, Android, and Windows. 

How to type in pinyin on iOS

To type in pinyin with your iPhones or tablets, simply follow these steps: 

  1. Go to “Settings” and select “General.”
  1. Select “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”
  1. Choose “Chinese, Simplified” or “Chinese, Traditional” to add the new keyboard language.
  1. Choose your preferred Pinyin input method.
how to type in pinyin with iphone
  1. The setup is done! You can now type pinyin letters like your native language. You can click the globe icon to switch to or from the Chinese keyboard. Whenever you need to add a tone above a letter, simply long-press that letter, and the tone options will appear.

How to type in pinyin on Mac

If you’re using a Macbook or computer, the steps might be slightly trickier. To type in pinyin with tone marks on Macbook or other Mac devices, you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Add the “ABC – Extended” keyboard to your input methods.

  • Open System Preferences from the Apple menu or your dock.
  • Click “Language & Region” and choose “Keyboard Preferences.”
  • Click the “+” sign to add a new input keyboard.
  • Scroll down the language list on the right to find and select “ABC – Extended” and click “Add.” Note that the box that says “Show input menu in menu bar” should be checked. This will allow you to see and switch your input method from the menu bar on your Mac.

2. Switch your input method to the “ABC – Extended” input method

There are two ways to switch to the “ABC – Extended” input method: the menu bar or the keyboard shortcut.

  • To switch from the menu bar, select the input method option by clicking the icon on the menu bar. You can choose “ABC – Extended” here and switch it back to your native language when you finish typing in pinyin.
  • Otherwise, you can use keyboard shortcuts to switch between your input methods. First, open your System Preferences and select “Keyboard.” Then, from the buttons at the top of the window, choose “Shortcuts” and then “Input Sources” from the list on the left. You can then click the boxes to enable the shortcuts for switching forward and backward through your list of input methods if they are not already enabled. The default shortcuts are ^ (control) + space bar to go forward, and ^ (control) + ⌥ (option) + space bar to go backward through the list.

3. Type vowels with the correct tone marks

You’ve successfully added the ABC – Extended keyboard and selected it as your input method. Now you can easily type pinyin with the correct tone marks over the vowels.

Here’s how the system works: First, you press the command button for the tone and then type the vowel that the tone will be over. Here are the commands for each tone:

  • The first (the flat) tone: Press ⌥ (option) + a to create the accent. Then type a, e, i, o, u or v to create ā, ē, ī, ō, ū.
  • The second (rising) tone: Press ⌥ (option) + e to create the accent. Then type a, e, i, o, u to create á, é, í, ó, ú, or ǘ.
  • The third (rising-falling) tone: Press ⌥ (option) + v to create the accent. Then type a, e, i, o, u to create ǎ, ě, ǐ, ǒ, ǔ.
  • The fourth (falling) tone: Press ⌥ (option) + ~ (the key under the Esc key) to create the accent. Then type a, e, i, o, u to create à, è, ì, ò, ù.
  • Note: Type the ū by pressing ⌥ (option) + u to create the accent. Otherwise, type u to create u. 

You may also like: A Guide To The Four Basic Mandarin Tones.

How to type in pinyin with tone marks on Android

  1. Find and install the “Google Pinyin App” app in the Google Play Store.
  1. Open the app and select “Enable” the input method.
  2. Click the “Language & Input” menu and enable “Google Pinyin Input.”
  3. Open the Google Pinyin Input app and select “Select Input Method.”
  4. Choose “Google Pinyin Input” and select “Configure input methods.”
  5. Select “Keyboard” in the app settings menu, and you’re good to go! Whenever you want to switch to or from the Chinese keyboard, simply click the “Globe” icon. 
typing in pinyin with android

How to type in pinyin on Windows 

  1. From the launch of Windows 10, The Pinyin Tones software is no longer included by default in the language settings. However, you can still easily download it directly from the developer’s website: https://www.pinyintones.com.
  2. After installing the software, click the language icon in the taskbar on your screen corner. Select “Japanese PinyinTones” to switch to the pinyin keyboard. (Yes, this is the right keyboard you need to use to type in pinyin with tones on Windows!)
  3. Now you can simply type the pinyin letters with the correct tones by using the corresponding number for that tone. For example, if you want to type the pinyin for 你好 (nǐ hǎo), first type “ni,” “hao” followed by the number “3” for the 3rd tone (ni3 hao3), and click “space”: nǐ hǎo. 

FYI: 

  • Keep in mind that tones are always placed above a vowel!
  • If you still have difficulty activating the Chinese keyboard on your smartphone or computer, try using an online Chinese keyboard instead. These pages allow you to type pinyin without a Chinese keyboard easily. You can edit your text in the box and copy it to your document, e-mail message, etc.

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