I'm a Chinese learner and know from my teacher that there is software (for Windows), which lets you strictly input withtype in pinyin with tones. E.g. hao3 becomes . The Mac OS shipped Chinese input does have pinyin input, but no tone selection, hence you input hao to get (no tone mark). I wonder if there is any way for me to use a pinyin input with tones for Mac OS or on my ipad.


Making the user input a tone used to be the default in OS X, but not since at least OS X 10.8. Now it continues to guess your characters as you keep typing, and since it's pretty good at guessing, I guess tone selection was deemed an unnecessary step.

There may be some way you can fiddle with com.apple.inputmethod.SCIM.plist or com.apple.inputmethod.TCIM.plist to bring the old behavior back, but at least in the preferences menu that option is no longer available.

One thing you can do: after typing the "untoned" pinyin for a character, cycle through the four tones by hitting Tab (it's Option + Tab in Traditional Chinese). This will limit the list of suggestions to one particular tone at a time (it also displays a diacritical mark over your pinyin as a visual indicator of which tone you're on).

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    I don't need to use option when doing the tabbing. In fact you have found a good solution. Just type pinyin plus the number of tabs corresponding to the tone and you have them. The pinyin even shows the tone diacritic while you are doing it. – Tom Gewecke Jul 7 '16 at 21:53
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    Ah, Option is only necessary for Traditional Chinese. I'll edit. Thanks! – leekaiinthesky Jul 7 '16 at 22:03
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    Pressing tab was the answer I was looking for. Thanks! +1 – Andrew Ravus Mar 15 '20 at 2:47

I think QIM may do this, but I have not verified it myself:


  • On the website it says that one should input the pinyin without tone marks... – Long Hoang Jul 6 '16 at 14:12
  • @LongHoang But I think there may be an option for using tones in the settings. You would have to install it to see for sure what it can do. – Tom Gewecke Jul 6 '16 at 14:57
  • @LongHoang Also you can search/ask in a group devoted to Chinese here: groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/chinesemac – Tom Gewecke Jul 6 '16 at 15:00
  • Argh.. seem to not work for El Capitan :( – Long Hoang Jul 7 '16 at 13:34

When inputting the 4 tones on Latin pinyin representations of Chinese characters, I figured that the US - Internationl layout is not sufficient. You need the ABC - Extended keyboard. After that, you can type all the 4 tones like:

  • Option + ` = Downward tone (à)
  • Option + e = Upward tone (á)
  • Option + v = Circumflex down tone (ǎ)
  • Option + a = Straight tone (ā)

Followed by these tones, press the character to which you want to apply the symbol. I hope this helps.

  • This question is about creating Chinese characters, while your answer is about something different, creating Latin pinyin. It could still be useful to users. I've added a couple words to at the beginning to clarify. – Tom Gewecke Nov 25 '18 at 0:14

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