Pinyin is essential for anyone learning to speak Chinese. You’ll find that you prefer to type in pinyin instead of in traditional Chinese but the standard English QWERTY keyboard doesn’t support all tone marks that you need to write correct pinyin. There isn’t an English keyboard layout that does. Rob Rohan has developed a keyboard layout that allows you to stick to the English QWERTY layout but type pinyin with tone marks.
The keyboard is available as an MSI installer file which you can run and it will install the layout for you. Unfortunately, it seems that the MSI file doesn’t work on Windows 10. You can give it a try but if it fails to install, you’re going to need to create the keyboard yourself. Fortunately, the developer has made the source file of the keyboard available and you can compile it yourself for Windows 10. It’s incredibly easy and requires only a few GUI apps to do the trick.
You need the following;
- Source files for the English pinyin keyboard. Extract the zipped file.
- Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator
Create English Pinyin Keyboard
Install Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator and run it with administrative rights. Go to File>Load Source File. In the dialog box that opens, navigate to the source files folder for the English pinyin keyboard that you extracted. Inside, you will find a file called “uspinyin.klc”. Select it. This will load the layout in Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator.
Next, go to Project>Build DLL and Setup Package. The app will take care of everything and build an MSI installer on your system. Once it’s finished, open the folder where the installer is saved, and run it. This will install the new keyboard layout.
Using English Pinyin Keyboard
Now that you’ve installed the keyboard, you need to remove the other default QWERTY layout so that this layout is the only one that’s installed for the English language.
Open the Settings app and go to the Time & Language group of settings. Select the Region & language tab. Select the language that is installed, and click Options.
On the next screen, select all the layouts that you want to remove and click the Remove button. Leave only the US pinyin layout.
You can now use your keyboard to type in pinyin with tone marks.
A tone is added by tapping a certain key. You must tap the key before you type the letter that you want to add the tone to. The following keys execute the respective pinyin tones.
[ = ā
] = á
’ = ă
\ = à
ctrl+alt+u = ü
The keyboard works in all apps whether it’s Notepad, MS Office, or your browser. If you want to type nǐ hăo, tap n, then tap the apostrophe key, and then tap i. Next, tap the h key, followed by the apostrophe key, then a, and finally o.