Guide to Cantonese Input IME and Software

A common problem that have been troubling cantonese-speaking Windows users is the inability to input special cantonese-only characters in their systems. Characters such as "乜","喺" and "冇" cannot be typed used Microsoft's Chinese IME and also using other euqivalent software such as NJSTAR and Chinese Star. These software can display most of the fonts with GB encoding but there's simply no easy way to input them. Furthermore, written Cantonese contains many characters not used in standard written Chinese in order to transcribe words not present in the standard lexicon. In 1990 the Hong Kong Government introduced the Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set (HKSCS) in use for electronic communication as an attempt to standardize written cantonese. The HKSCS is a prerequisite for many of the softwares and IMEs featured below so download and install HKSCS before install the IMEs.

Download the Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set (HKSCS) from Microsoft.

To solve this problem of typing cantonese on the computer, a wide plethora of software and IMEs have been developed. Most people today use ChangJie, Jyutping or handwritting recognition pads.

I've tried and tested many alternatives to allow me to have the ability to type Cantonese on my computer. Many of these software are commercial but I didn't want to pay anything for it, so I decided to do a bit of googling for the proper tools and after a bit of testing, I've come up with a list of some of the best and free software for this purpose.

1. ISO 10646 version of HKSCS-2001 reference font and input software (ISO 10646 版本輸入法軟件)

This is the official software for typing cantonese with is developed by the Hong Kong Government. It uses the ChangJie input method, Quick Input method and Stroke Input method. Its pretty decent but only downside is that ChangJie is the main input method. The learning curve for the Changjie input method is pretty steep and if you don't know Changjie then its better to use other easier methods such as cantonese romanization (e.g Jyutping or Yale). Check out the official site here.

Download ISO 10646 version of HKSCS-2001 reference font and input software

2. Red Dragonfly Chinese Input Method (紅蜻蜓粵語拼音詞語輸入法)

This nifty piece of software is developed by Dr. K.K. Luke, Department of Linguistics, University of Hong Kong.This Input Method can thus be used to type characters from the HKSCS. It uses the cantonese pronounciation method for the input of the characters. This software is pretty good, except that it is limited to run on native Chinese version of Windows. If you run an English version of Windows XP, you can download Applocale from Microsoft and display this software in Traditional Chinese (GB) encoding. Check out more info for this software on their official site from The University of Hong Kong.

Download Red Dragonfly Chinese Input Method

3. Cantonese Input IME (廣東/粵語拼音輸入法)

This is the best piece of software I've come by so far. It uses the Jyutping (粵拼) method for input. This software is installed as an IME and is highly cuztomizable as you could change the pronounciation of the characters to suit your own typing habits as well as also add new characters to the list. You can find a step by step tutorial to setting up and customizing the software on their official site here.

Download Cantonese Input IME

4. CantoInput

This software is developed by Jim Burket and is a Unicode-based cantonese input IME. Both the Yale and Jyutping methods are supported. A Mandarin Pinyin mode is also available. CantoInput will run on any operating system with a relatively recent Java runtime environment. You could run it on Windows, Linux and even on Macs. I haven't had much time to try out this piece of software but by the looks of it it seems pretty fine. Check out CantoInput from their official site.

Download CantoInput


Anonymous said...

Another version of CantoInput
it has more functions.

Spirit said...

Thanks for the helping post. I downloaded Cantonese IME (cpime) based on your recommendation, still trying to get used to it. I got the Yale romanization version though.

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