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「道成了肉身,住在我們中間,充充滿滿的有恩典(Charis)有真理(Alethia)。我們也見過他的榮光,正是父獨生子的榮光。」(約翰福音1:14)

How to type Chinese on a Mac (with Cantonese Pinyin)

Updated: November 9, 2015 (tested on OSX Yosemite 10.10.5)

Having lived in North America for more than 16 years, it becomes harder and harder for me to recall and write Chinese characters. Some input methods become quite unusable for me, such as Changjie (倉頡), Array (行列), and all those that require you to recall how the character looks like, and dissect it according to their radicals (部首). Similarly, hand writing pads (手寫版) do not work either, since I don’t even remember how the characters looks like. Hence the most direct way is to go by Cantonese Pinyin (廣東話拼音), since the phonetic sound the only thing I can retain.

So for you Cantonese-speaking Mac users out there, this is how you do it:

Download and Install:

  1. Download Yahoo! Key Key 奇摩輸入法 (1.1.2535 for OSX Leopard or later) by clicking here.
    (Note: Yahoo has already discontinued the development and support of this software since Jan 15th 2013. So do not remove this dmg file after installation. Keep it around in case you need to install it on another machine later.)
  2. Install the program first. (You’ll need to log out and log back in after installation.)

Prepare the Cantonese Data File Folder:

  1. Create a new folder called “DataTables” on your desktop.
  2. Within the “DataTables” folder, create another folder called “Generic”.
  3. Download this canton.cin data file (right-click and save link as).
  4. Copy canton.cin to the “Generic” folder.

Install the Cantonese Data File into Yahoo! KeyKey:

  1. Now locate “Yahoo! KeyKey.app” in /Library/Input Methods. (Open Finder, under the Go menu, choose “Go to Folder…” or simply press Shift-Apple-G, then type “/Library/Input Methods”.)
  2. Right-click on “Yahoo! KeyKey.app” and choose “Show Package Contents”.
  3. Go inside Contents, then Resources.
  4. Drag the entire “DataTables” folder from your desktop into the “Resources” folder.
  5. It might ask you to type your admin password to authenticate the copying process. (Note: If there are multiple users on your computer wanting to use this input method, make sure you add read and write access rights to the “DataTables” folder for everyone by right-clicking on the folder, choose “Get Info”, then do it under “Sharing & Permissions”.)
  6. Now log out and log back in.

Final Setup:

  1. Active the Yahoo! KeyKey input method by going to System Preferences / Keyboard / Input Sources, then click the + sign to add it. It should go under the language “Chinese, Traditional”.
  2. Now switch to the Yahoo! KeyKey input method and click on the input method icon on the menu bar.
  3. You should see “Canton” as one of the choices. Check it.
  4. Also remember to turn on “Associated Phrases” (this is very useful).
  5. Congratulations! You can start typing away!

Advanced Tweaking:

  1. You can turn off all the other input methods by going to Yahoo! KeyKey’s preferences under the General tab.
  2. In preferences, under the Generic tab, check “Put recently chosen candidates in front” to make frequently typed characters appear further in the front of the character selection pages.
  3. If you want to add new characters, modify pinyins, or adjust the character position in the selection bar, you can just open up canton.cin in a Unicode text editor like TextWrangler (my favorite!) and edit it yourself. It should be pretty self explanatory, but do it at your own risk! If you want the data file’s formatting documentation, read this.

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73 Responses

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  1. Edmund says

    Thanks for telling. I will include that as my backup input method.

  2. 阿中 says

    thanks for posting this!

  3. Henz says

    Thanz man! you dont understand how much day and time i used to get the canton.cin off the net ever since OV dev cycle ended! Finally, I found this.

    That’s why we should write blog – share oldies when the official is gone.

    • Anson says

      @Henz: Glad that you found what you needed. Btw, I have just rewrote these instructions. OV is so broken nowadays. Yahoo! KeyKey is much better.

  4. Alex says

    Hey, I was wondering if this method works with the newest version of Mac OSX? Because I got right up to the third set of instructions and then got stuck – I can’t find Yahoo! KeyKey.app anywhere on my computer. Any suggestions?

    • Anson says

      @Alex:
      Yes, it works with Snow Leopard.
      Have you installed Yahoo Key Key yet?
      It should be located at /Library/Input Methods
      Try to use Spotlight to locate it.

      • jamie says

        yes i cant find “Canton” under the list yahookeykey. help!! 🙁 i am using snow leopard

        • Anna says

          I tried using spotlight and I can’t seem to find yahoo! keykey.app
          I’m using snow leopard.

  5. pickup truck says

    Hey, you really saved me a boat load of time with all the information you have on this website. I found everything I was looking for thank you

  6. Kelvin says

    Hey, just wanted to say THANKS for all the useful instructions in your post. 🙂

  7. suki says

    why cant i find canton on the list under yahookeykey?
    ive followed eveything correctly, im currently using mac os x 10.6

  8. jamie says

    yes i cant find “Canton” under the list yahookeykey. help!! 🙁 i am using snow leopard

  9. what is retinitis pigmentosa says

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was looking for this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  10. Leo says

    Thanks Anson! I gave up on Mac long time ago when I couldn’t find a good Cantonese input. Even though I am still on Windows, this post of yours remove a barrier for me should I need to switch. The pull is constantly there ^_^. I like that (apparently) I can edit the input.in to tweet the pronunciation preference (but the canton.cin you provided is just so good and exactly my way. Have great redundancy for s and sh, j and ch, etc.) Even have nei for 袮! I am gonna try 奇摩輸入法 on Windows first. It will tremendously help my sermon preparation, thank you. God bless you!

  11. Jimmy says

    First of all, thanks for posting this up and this is very big help.

    Secondly, for Jamie. I also can’t find the “Canton” under the list in very early stage. Then i download the canton.cin file again. (Please note that the file may be save as .txt format. As the result, you should remove .txt or otherwise the input method will not work)

  12. Slam says

    謝謝你!特別鳴謝係jimmy 的貼士,把 .txt 改為 .cin

  13. belleza says

    does it work in lion?

  14. belleza says

    i tried to install in lion, it doesn’t work.

  15. lilham says

    Brilliant. I have the same problem with typing chinese as the OP. Left HK 20 years ago and can hardly remember what anything looks like! Been using Google’s HK portal to type chinese and cut and paste back to other websites/emails. This works like a charm.

    @belleza, it works in Lion for. Make sure you do what Jimmy says and remove .txt from the canton.cin file, and also check the spelling of the folders you created. The International is ‘Language & Text’ in Lion’s System Preferences.

  16. VonLau says

    I’m very new to Mac.
    I’m using a Mac OS X Lion 10.7 and i got up to the part where i need to locate Yahoo! KeyKey.app and then dragging the entire DataTables into the Resources folder.

    I can’t locate the Yahoo! KeyKey.app and i can’t seem to drag and drop the folder into what I suspected to be the app.

    Please help!!! Many Mnay Thanks!!!

  17. Kathleen says

    i can’t find the library/input methods folder on lion help please

    • Kathleen says

      i meant the app in the folder**

  18. mei says

    i can’t find the app in my input method folder /: help please

  19. elaine says

    This works in Lion. In Finder, click Go to Folder and type:
    ~/Library/Application Support/Yahoo! KeyKey/DataTables

    Make a folder called Generic and put the canton.cin file there. Log out and log back in and it should be there.

  20. Stan says

    Thanks to the contribution by all of the people above.

    I am using OX Lion. According to the above instruction on the top, at “Final Setup”: step 1 & 2, “Canton” does not appear under the “Yahoo!keykey” on my computer. However, “Canton” appears as a separate input method in addition to “yahoo!keykey” at “Languaguage and Texts”

    Now, although chinese character can still be typed through canton input, there is no such option as “associated phrase”, and the canton input is rather inconvenient because for each word I type, I have to press a space-bar first, and then select the words by using “down” arrow key.

    Can anyone tell me how to install “Canton” under “Yahoo!keykey” as shown on the above instruction picture? Many thanks.

    Stan

  21. riven says

    Thank you so much !!!! I tried to install multiple versions of KeyKey [including the one for Tiger which works on my MBP with Snow Leopard, but not on Lion 10.7.2] and still couldn’t use Cantonese input until now !!!

    Yet the 廣東拼音 appears a bit different, e.g. I need to type “ngoh” instead of “ngo” for typing “我”字, not sure if it’s due to the newer version of Keykey or not, anyhow, I can finally use Cantonese input on Lion!!

    for those who find it difficult to locate the folder [which I am one of them ^^], I followed elaine’s teaching, In Finder, click Go to Folder and type: /Library/Input Methods, and it will do.

  22. Carrie says

    thank you. I’ve successfully installed this to my Mac. However I am new to 廣東拼音 and there are plenty of words I just don’t know how 拼. Just wonder if you have a table of all the Cantonese words and their Pinyin for this particular program?

    • Mag says

      i installed but couldn’t see the “canton” option in the last step, some other options which doesn’t work for 廣東拼音

  23. Mona says

    thanks so much!!! finally i can input chinese by cantonese pinyin

  24. Eiso says

    I tried to download the latest version of Yahoo!KeyKey for my OS X Lion but the dmg file keeps saying “The following disk images couldn’t be opened”…no matter how many times I download it…

  25. kurt501 says

    謝謝你!

  26. bianca says

    please help, im using OS X 10.7.3
    and i cannot find the” library” in the finder 🙁
    get stuck pleasssse help 🙁

    • Olfat says

      My daughter just tuenrd 2 and we put her in a ballet class after we had to run into a ballet studio to use the restroom, and she ran into the studio and started listening to the instructor and copying what she was doing. Now she cries every time her class is over and we have to leave. But I completely agree with your post. People put so much pressure on their toddlers and get them into so many different things. I’ll let my daughter tell me what she wants to do. Ballet is enough for me, the rest of the weeks it’s just me and my daughter and a bunch of paint, playdough, and paper! lol

  27. Annette says

    Thanks soooo much!!! this is super useful!!!!

  28. joy says

    I still can’t find “Canton” under Yahoo!keykey

  29. Jennifer says

    I am also unable to find the “canton” under the yahookeykey tab.. Does it not work for the lion os for mac?

  30. maikeul says

    can’t find Canton under the yahookeykey tab for OSx mountain lion : [

    • Agnes says

      I also couldn’t find Canton under the Yahookeykey tab. My version is OSX 10.8.3.

  31. Sai says

    我mountain lion ok 喎
    不過同我係windows 用開ge有少少唔同
    例如: 係windows上 “我” 係ngo,但哩個library係ngoh
    不過可以係osx倒打到廣東拼音已經好感動

    ps 我依家係喺mac上用廣東拼音打哩篇回覆 XD

    • karl says

      I cannot make it in mountain lion too….don’t know why

  32. E says

    I could not find anything in the input method, “Yahoo! KeyKey.app” doesn’t seem to be inside.
    I’m on OSX 10.8.2
    what do I do?

  33. Mei says

    Hi guys, just wondering if the cantonese word database would be updated? The “Canton.cin” file?

    • Anson says

      Just open it up in a plain text editor and edit it yourself.

  34. VonLau says

    thx for the great info.
    i just bought my macbook today and its running on os x 10.8
    i got up to the part where i’m required to copy the entire data tables folder into the “resources” folder. the “resources” folder is not allowing me to paste anything into it so I’m not able to continue with the install.

    please help!

    • Anson says

      Right click on the folder that you don’t have right to and right-click and choose Get Info. You can modify the Sharing and Permissions at the bottom.

  35. Alec says

    The software isn’t available as a Yahoo tool anymore! The download’s still available, but no instructions on how to install it.

  36. Agnes says

    To maikeul and karl: Choose “Yahoo!KeyKey” on the language bar on the top right hand corner. Click on “Yahoo!KeyKey” again, this time the pop-up window will show a Yahoo!KeyKey sub-section with 5 options under it – Smart Phonetic, Traditional Phonetic, Cangjie, Simplex and Canton. Check the Canton option. My version of Mountain is OSX 10.8.3.

    • Bernadette Vong says

      i followed your instructions, but don’t know why for some reasons I can only see the top 4 options, but no Canton option T.T My mac is OSX 10.10.4

  37. jc says

    hi there,

    thanks for such great info.
    i can manage to do all the steps but only when i select canton under yahoo! keykey it still no cantonese can type, but if i select other input method it does works. may i know what do i went wrong?

  38. arthur says

    hi, i tried to follow every steps here but when i need to locate yahoo keykey,app in \library\input methods … it doesn’t show anything there, it’s empty…

    i am quite sure that i’ve installed the yahoo key key on my mac. can you please tell me where have i missed ?

    my mac os version is 10.9.2

    thanks a lot !

  39. cyndi says

    I can finally type Chinese on my mac and it all owes to you! This is so helpful and dunno how to express my thankfulness to you!
    Thank you once again for this step by step tutorial, it’s so clear and helpful!

    For those who unable to install please pay attention to (i made that error before too):
    it should be canton.cin instead canton.txt
    change the file name and you can use it 🙂

  40. Nash says

    it works well for me , i usually use the pinyin for madarine , however , now i have this tool i can easily use the similar ways of typing canton words , apperiate yahoo with this app .

  41. Chris says

    Thank you so much. I successfully downloaded the software following your detailed instructions on my OSC Yosemite 10.10.2. I was used to Cantonese input when using Windows and am at a loss when I switched to Mac. I much prefer this than writing on the trackpad. 🙂

  42. FC says

    Hi, is there 聯想 available too with Cantonese input on Mac?

  43. David Tang says

    I started to use MB only this week. It’s OSX Yosemite 10.10. Yahoo Key Key is downloaded and is shown on the menu but there is no CANTON (only Smart Phonetic, Traditional Phonetic, Cangjie and Simplex). I could see canton.cin.txt within the Resources folder. Did I mess up in some steps?

    • Anson says

      Get rid of the .txt extension. The file name should just be canton.cin.

      • David Tang says

        Still can’t find CANTON?

        • Elaine says

          Hi everyone, I just downloaded the file and changed the extension to .txt. However it’s showing all the Yahoo! KeyKey options (Smart Phonetic, Traditional Phonetic, Cangjie, Simplex) but doesn’t offer Canton. Not sure what I did wrong so I guess I’m running into the same problem as David Tang. Any suggestions?

          • Mentaiko says

            Make sure there is no space between Data and Tables when you name the folder. Also, make sure that the extension of the canton.cin isn’t actually .txt.

      • Alli says

        I tried it a several time before I succeed
        There are some details you should pay attention.
        First of all , as they mentioned, the document should be .cin instead of .txt .
        Second, you should make sure the file name is “Datatables”, I have no idea why the capital letter will stop you from successfully install it. Anyway follow the file name I gave.
        Last but not least, before you correct the mistake you made, remove your Yahoo!Keykey from your input source first .
        Hope this can help !

  44. shannon says

    I am unable to drag the datatables folder into resources. that action is not allowed. did i do something wrong?

    • shannon says

      step 1 on list of final steps does not show up in my list of input methods

  45. Alli says

    i follow the instruction but I can’t see the option named Canton:(
    Who can help:(
    Just found smart phonetic, traditional phonetic, cangjie and simplex……

    • Alli says

      i did it !!!

  46. anon8200 says

    I have the same problem but could not get the option Canton.
    How did you get it?

  47. Ryan says

    Hello, I was follow the steps to install in my Macbook Pro Yosemite 10.10.2
    But it seem after the whole installation can be find the ” Canton ” options under the items bar. May I know do I miss anything or it can’t be support Yosemite 10.10.2 this OS. Would you mind to help me, thank you so much

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