Help, Typing in a foreign: How do I type in Japanese? (or Korean, Chinese, other script)

Using an american computer and keyboard. For example if I want to make a post on my Facebook or on a message board, is there a way to easily switch to Japanese input?

I am pretty sure that the japanese type in roman letters to display japanese script.
This is going to be a little tricky as I find it harder to convert my japanese hiragana into the roman form. Also, how do you type in kanji? Do I need to get a special Kana keyboard (do they make those)? I tried changing my settings to japanese but that isn’t doing anything, and I am worried about changing my whole menu to japanese in fear of being uncertain how to do anything or change it back.

Secondly, I know Korea uses a hangul keyboard. If I were looking to type in Korean do I need a new keyboard?I don’t see how a romaji transliteration would work because the sounds don’t match up like they do i Japanese. just curious.

Using a macbook. Thanks!

As I see it, on my Macbook, you just go into your keyboard settings (settings–>keyboard) and there you can add an enormous range of keyboards for different languages. I personally only use it for Chinese (typing in 拼音 as usual and then choosing the respective characters) and Russian (just normal letters, though). But when you select Japanese, you will be given the possibility to type in カタカナ, ひらがな, Romaji and Kanji. You just type in the pronounciation and then you chose the respective version that you prefer or want to write. I think it supports handwritten input as well.

I know there are certain “phonetic” keyboards for Japanese, Russian, and Chinese, but I’m not enitrely sure if they come default on Mac, but you might be able to see multiple input methods for each language.

Typing Kanji/Hanja (Korean) is usually done by pressing Ctrl+Shift or some combination + a letter, but on the Korean one, you simply type the word, and press some button (can’t remember off the top of my head) and it allows you to swap the Korean word for the Hanja. (Might be different for Mac, but probably not)

Also you don’t need a new keyboard, but you will have to practice for quite some time to get fast at typing. I’ve been typing with the Korean keyboard layout for 3 months now and I am barely getting close to half my speed in English/Roman letter languages.

However, in Portuguese, I found that I would need a new keyboard if I wanted to really type it, because it has an extra button for the “?” that my keyboard does not.

Just a little insight from what I’ve done over the years. Sometimes you may need to install a 3rd party keyboard to get the job done how you like.

Also, once you install the Japanese keyboard, using control/shift/j to go to Japanese and control/shift/; to return to the alphabet is a handy way to go between them.

  1. You can activate alt keyboard in settings
  2. You can buy a keyboard sticker set on Amazon and mark your keyboard for your target language

But really:

  1. Use a smartphone or tablet to type in your target language. Not only are the keyboards easy to shift to, they give you a visual layout right away (no need for stickers). The autocorrect can be hugely useful (with caveats of course :wink:
    And Siri can be a great help in typing out words that you know how to say, but not how to write.

Also, on your smart phone, in a language with genders like French or German, the autocorrect has a way of letting you know if you’re using the wrong gender. It’s very useful.


I have a mac now so I’ve forgotten how to change languages on a PC. But regarding input, you just type romaji for Japanese, and the kana will appear if that’s what you’ve selected, or kanji if that’s what you’re on. In Mandarin you type the pinyin (no tone info) and the hanzi will appear. With Korean however there is a special keyboard since there is no good romanization system for it. Thankfully there are few letters.

Regarding smartphones, I have a free multi-language keyboard app.

Hi, I’m new here. If you’re on a macbook then you can do this:

  • go to the apple symbol up the top left then click on “system preferences”.
  • Then click on keyboard
  • Now click on “input sources”(this will only affect your keyboard not your whole mac and it will only work when you choose it to from the flag that will appear in the top right of your mac.
  • Click on the plus sign.
  • Choose the language on the left and the keyboard layout on the right then click add.
  • Now when you look at the top right you should see a flag (mine is Australian but yours might be the USA flag) click it and you can now type in the language you select from the drop down.
  • If you get confused click on that same menu “show keyboard viewer” this will show you a virtual keyboard you can either click on or just use to see what you are typing.
    Note, I tested out Japanese and Korean and if you select Hiragana it will type kanji if you type the same in Hiragana and then the down arrow it will show you the Kanji in a drop down. Also if you want Hiragana without any Kanji press enter then space not just the space bar otherwise it will convert to Kanji .I am actually about to start learning Korean and the “2-set Korean" layout seems to work well.

Hope this helps.