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Windows XP Chinese Zhuyin Setup

A Quick Start Guide For
Western Versions of MS Windows XP

This page is for anyone who needs to use Chinese "Bopomofo" phonetic symbols in non-Chinese versions of Microsoft Windows XP, as an input method to enter Chinese characters, as “ruby” characters next to standard Chinese characters, or for standalone use.

Standard Bopomofo Keyboard

Yes, Pinyin Joe does get asked for help with Bopomofo, also known as Zhuyin Fuhao. Although the government in Taipei has annouced the goal of doing away with Bopomofo, it is the still the primary phonetic system for teaching Chinese in Taiwan and in many overseas Chinese communities, including a surprising number of private and public elementary schools in the US. Recently they've been calling it "Bo Po Mo", as in "A B C".

NOTE: If you only want to display the Zhuyin symbols alone, and are not interested in using them to type hanzi characters, please see the "Hints" section below.

The following setup instructions assume you've already enabled East Asian languages and the Microsoft New Phonetic IME on your PC.  The only thing that changes is the selection of a keyboard:

     Again, have you enabled East Asian languages?
     Have you installed the Microsoft New Phonetic IME??
     If so, then please proceed to modify the following setting:

  • Right-click on the Language bar and select "Settings":

  • In the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box, find and click once on "Microsoft New IME 2002a", then click on the Properties button:

  • or, in the full Language bar's Tool menu, select "Properties" to arrive at the same place:

  • In the Microsoft New Phonetic Input Method 2002a Property dialog box, click on the Keyboard Mapping tab:

  • Select a keyboard layout and click OK, then click OK again in Text Services dialog box to exit:

Most people will want to choose between "Standard" and "Secondary Bopomofo":

  • The "Standard" keyboard

    The Standard keyboard can be brought up on the screen from the full Language bar's "Tools" menu by selecting "Soft keyboard", to guide your typing or for pecking at with your mouse pointer. Zhuyin keyboard labels and replacement keyboards with this layout next to the roman letters are widely available. Further instructions can be found in this input method's help file, in the full Language bar.

  • The "Secondary Bopomofo" keyboard

    The Secondary Bopomofo keyboard allows you to sound out Zhuyin using the roman letters on your standard keyboard, converting them to Zhuyin on-the-fly. Note: this romanization is not Hanyu Pinyin. There is a table listing these differences in this input method's Help file (in the full Language bar, under "Keyboard Setting"). Why would you not use the international Hanyu Pinyin input method then? Try entering "eng" in both methods, then decide.

  • Other keyboard layouts

    The other keyboard layouts available here are proprietary systems that may have been memorized by users of third-party software except "Taiwan Pinyin", also known as "Tongyong Pinyin", the official pinyin of Taiwan for a few years before Taiwan also standardized on Hanyu Pinyin on January 1, 2009.

Microsoft includes a user manual in this input method's help file, available by clicking on the "?" in the full Language bar when the input method is selected. But I have two little hints that teachers in particular may appreciate:

Hints for displaying the symbols only:

  • The easiest way to enter Zhuyin symbols alone, believe it or not, is to use the simplified character Chinese input method editor "Microsoft Pinyin IME 3.0", not the IME shown above. If you only want to display Zhuyin and not use them to type hanzi, you may want to use that IME instead. The Pinyin page has installation instructions for that IME. After installation, select soft keyboard #4, "Phonetic". It is not an input method, just a way to type Zhuyin. Both the soft keyboard and your real keyboard become the Zhuyin Standard keyboard while that is selected.

  • Another way, using the traditional character IME, requires entering Zhuyin symbols with the input method described on this page, and then selecting them from the Candidate Words list just as you would any other character.

To display the symbols above or alongside hanzi:

  • Although with some struggle you can get this done using fonts included with Windows, this will require some very arduous layout work. Instead, try Microsoft Word's "Phonetic Guide" or a third-party font to place Zhuyin "ruby characters" next to your Chinese characters. Many find that Phonetic Guide is not easy to use...some even say it's defective...and the results are often not the most attractive. It is better to acquire a third-party font such as those included in the Dynafont TrueType 28 package listed on the Third-party Fonts & Apps page.

The Pinyin setup page also includes information on switching languages and adjusting the Language bar and keyboard shortcuts.

That's all there is to it! If you need more help or information, please see the links below and in the side column for more help.

MSPY 2010 download buttonUPDATE: The Taiwan IME 2010 update has been released! Please see my Taiwan IME 2010 Update FAQ for more information. For Windows 7, Vista and XP SP3, and does not require Office 2010 or any other version of Office.

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