So you've been learning Chinese, and now it's time to put that knowledge to use. If you're using a desktop computer, go into your settings and change your keyboard input method to Chinese (Simplified). But what if you're using a mobile device like an iPad or smartphone?

Thankfully, typing Chinese on these devices is much easier than ever before. Thanks to advances in technology and software design. In this article, we'll discuss the different types of Chinese keyboards available, how they work and which ones are best for different situations.

How Do Chinese Keyboards Work? - You Should Know Now

How Do Chinese Keyboards Work - You Should Know Now

Chinese keyboards are not like the English ones you may be used to. They have a completely different layout and use different keys.

The Chinese language uses one of the most complex writing systems in the world, with over 40,000 different characters. Chinese keyboards have adopted a standardized layout that can use on any device or operating system.

This means that typing in Chinese on your computer or mobile phone will work the same way, no matter what brand or model you're using.

Difference between Chinese And English Keyboard

Chinese keyboards use different letters and symbols instead of English ones. For example, if you want to type out a word using a traditional English keyboard, you must press down on a key and then release it when you reach its corresponding letter on the screen.

However, this process is slightly more involved with a Chinese keyboard because each letter types twice to appear correctly on the screen.

As with any language, Chinese has many different ways to write certain words, which can confuse new learners. Chinese keyboards come with many functions that allow users to type words differently depending on their preferences.

Chinese Keyboards Come In Two Main Types

In China, there are two main types of keyboards that you can use. One is the traditional Chinese keyboard, and the other is a simplified Chinese keyboard.

The Hanyu Pinyin (汉语拼音) keyboard is used to type Chinese characters; this is also known as romanization in English. The Zhuyin (注音符号) keyboard can be used to type Chinese characters if your computer has it downloaded onto it.

There are two main methods for typing Chinese on computers: the traditional approach and the speed-typing method.

Traditional style (stroke order)

Traditional style

The traditional style is how most people learn to type in Chinese, especially if they learned the language in school. This method uses a combination of English letters and Chinese characters, assigning each character a specific key on the keyboard.

To create a character, you first type in an English letter representing it, press shift+2 to enter tone marks, and finally press the spacebar to add tone marks. For example, if you want to write 金 (Jīn), you would first type j, then press shift+2 followed by n, then press spacebar so that your computer shows 金 (Jīn).

Speed-Typing Method

Speed-Typing Method

The speed-typing method uses only one key per character — no need for extra punctuation marks or diacritical marks like ā á ă ĕ ĭ ŏ ŭ etc. This method is less intuitive but faster once you get used to it.

The first step is memorizing the number keys on your keyboard — these numbers represent different tones of each character (e.g., 一 二 三 四 五.)

The system of typing fast on a Chinese keyboard is called the Pinyin input method, or PinYin. It was invented in 1957 by Zhou Youguang to improve earlier systems, which required people to look up characters in dictionaries or write them out by hand. PinYin is still used today as a phonetic system for the romanization of Chinese characters in dictionaries and textbooks.

Pinyin Input Method (Chinese)

Pinyin Input Method

Pinyin Input Method (Mandarin) is one of the most popular methods used by Chinese learners when typing out Mandarin characters into their computer or mobile device. It consists of 26 letters (A-Z), 10 numbers 0-9), and 4 punctuation marks (periods).

It works the same way as an English keyboard, except that each letter has two different sounds. In other words, every character on your keyboard can have 2 sounds. This is how you type out Pinyin!

The first sound is called "Yīnyìn," which means 'initials' and the second sound is called "Fùyìn," which means 'finals.'

When you type out Pinyin, your computer automatically ensures that both sounds are correct before it outputs any results. So, if you type "A," your computer will check whether any characters have the same initial sound as A and output those results first before checking for any finals with A.

For example, if there are no characters with an initial sound of A but some with an initial sound of X, then the Chinese keyboard has to display the character with an initial sound of X.

The Best Pinyin Methods Use Some Clever Tricks

The best Pinyin methods use some clever tricks to improve speed and accuracy. For example, the popular Sogou Pinyin method uses a dictionary of the most commonly used words to guess what you're trying to type.

The other popular method, iKey, uses a predictive keyboard that guesses what word you want next. If you're typing in English, these features might not be useful because they're based on Chinese characters rather than letters.

If you have an iPhone or iPad and need an alternative keyboard, we recommend Google's Gboard app (free). It has all the features of the stock iOS keyboard plus Pinyin and handwriting recognition.




Qwerty Keyboard

Qwerty Keyboard

Ancient letter/symbol

Most common

Fairly Common

Very Niche (Taiwan)

very slow

Faster but still slow


Hard for some to do

Steep learning curve

Very hard to use

What is the Wubi keyboards?

Wubi Chinese Keyboards is a system utility to help you type Chinese characters on your computer in Windows. It works with Simplified (Simplified Chinese) and Traditional (Traditional Chinese) Chinese languages and supports more than 30 input methods.
Wubi makes it easy to use the right keyboard layout for the language you want to type in. With Wubi, you don't need to worry about whether you're using the proper keyboard layout for the text you're entering.

What is Zhuyin keyboards?

Zhuyin (also known as Bopomofo) is a phonetic system developed in Taiwan in the 19th century. The system assigns one character to each syllable of Mandarin Chinese. It can be used to write Mandarin with a standard Latin keyboard, but it is not easy for native English speakers.

Zhuyin uses symbols similar to those on a telephone keypad, but the symbols are only sometimes present on computer keyboards. If you have trouble with Zhuyin, try Pinyin instead!

The key features of Zhuyin Chinese keyboards:

  • It is based on Latin letters but with some modifications to make it easier to write Chinese characters. For example, there are no capital letters or punctuation marks; instead, you must write them using numbers and symbols.
  • The keys are arranged in groups of five and ten so that whole syllables can be written more easily with one hand.

How To Get A Chinese Keyboard For Your Smartphone Or Tablet?

Many different Chinese keyboards are available, including options for your smartphone or tablet. You can also get a Chinese keyboard connected to your computer via USB, which is the most common type of Chinese keyboard.

Another option is to purchase a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, which allows you to connect wirelessly to any device with Bluetooth capabilities.

If you're looking for an all-in-one solution and don't mind spending the extra money on something like this, consider getting a Chinese Android tablet with a built-in Chinese input method already installed.

These devices come preconfigured with everything necessary for typing in pinyin on the screen (or even handwriting recognition).

How To Type With Chinese Characters On An English Keyboard?

How To Type With Chinese Characters On An English Keyboard

To type in Chinese characters using an English keyboard, you'll need to use the shift key, alt key, ctrl key, and space bar.

The backspace and delete keys work as normal when typing letters in English.

The shift key can use to type a Chinese character on top of another character. When you are typing with English letters (for example: "Hello World"), press down on any letter at least twice so that it appears underlined with a double-underline above it. Now try pressing down on one of the underlined letters.

Still, keep your finger down this time until all of them turn into yellow rectangles with red borders around them. There are no more yellow rectangles remaining before letting go; actual Chinese characters will now replace those yellow rectangles.

The alt key functions similarly but requires holding it down while pressing other keys simultaneously instead of simply tapping twice quickly like with shift—this means that if you want to write something like 愛你, you would have to press alt+131 (愛) then 0 (你).

Wrap Up

We hope you enjoyed this article the most and find it informative for you. Now you would easily know about Chinese keyboards. If you would like to add on please feel free to use our comment box below.

Share this post