I use 3 different language keyboards (japanese, english, chinese), all with their own special input method editors (IMEs). I have a fast switch between Japanese and English by just hitting either left or right CMD key respectively, which I set up using Karabiner. But, to get to my chinese keyboard I have to still flip through my other keyboards to find.

I was wondering if there was any way to set up a keyboard shortcut I could use to switch directly to my Chinese keyboard. I've tried using automator, but automator always plays out the entire "open menu", "select chinese keyboard", which takes about a second to run through (slow), and moves my mouse to the other end of the screen.

I'd be happy to use automator if somebody knows how I can remove this, or otherwise how to set up a shortcut some other way (or software to do this), I'd be grateful.

1 Answer 1


One easy thing you can do is to setup a shortcut that cycles forward and backwards through all input sources you have on your Mac.

So assuming you have them setup in this order: Japanese, English, Chinese and Japanese is currently active, pressing the keyboard shortcut will move to English and if you press it again to Chinese and then back to Japanese after a third press. With the second shortcut you can cycle backwards at any time.

Alternatively you can set an unused F-key in the top row of your keyboard (on mine F5 and F6 is free and on a full-size keyboard you have F13-F19 unused too) to be your shortcut, so pressing those will cycle through your options.

As far as I know there is no solution straight from OS X that will allow you to pick a specific language just by pressing an F-key. What might be an option is to setup an Apple Script inside System Preference that is being triggered by an F-key which sets your input source to a specific language. I might read into that and post it here, if the previous option doesn't meet your needs.

How to set it up

  1. Go to System Preferences (see Apple Logo at the top if it's not in the Dock)

  2. Go to Keyboard

  3. Select the tab "Shortcuts"

  4. Pick "Input Sources" from the list on the left

  5. Activate the shortcuts you would like to use and then click on the right to define the shortcut by pressing the desired combination or F-key.

  6. Close System Preferences and try it out

I hope this was helpful to you.

  • I already have this in place, but I usually need to cycle through Japanese to get to Chinese (or go to Japanese then cycle). Either way, it takes 2 actions rather than 1, which especially when I need to switch language for one word, or fast for some other reason, just doesn't cut it...
    – sqrtbottle
    Sep 26, 2015 at 14:30
  • Did you already check out this Stackoverflow answer (stackoverflow.com/a/23741934) about using Apple Script to click the menus? I know this doesn't seem like an elegant solution but I tried the code in the Apple Script editor and it seemed rather fast.
    – comfreak
    Sep 26, 2015 at 14:47

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