Being able to see pinyin in its purest form helps the brain process Chinese sounds better, so I was thrilled to discover keyboard tricks for typing the tones on my Mac computer. (There is some help for Windows users in the links below) Up until now, I have been just typing numerals at the end of the pinyin words. (click on any photo to enlarge)
First, set up the ABC Extended Keyboard
The first step is to make sure you are using the ABC Extended keyboard, NOT just the basic English keyboard. The ABC Extended keyboard can easily be added by going to
System Preferences >> Keyboard >> Input Sources, then clicking on the plus sign (+) near the bottom left.
When you do this, another box will drop down suggesting some keyboards. I found it easiest to just type ABC in the search bar and then ABC Extended showed up as one of the options. That choice is already gray in my photo, since I have already added it, so it wouldn’t let me choose it again. Once you have added it, it will show up in the top menu with the other keyboards you have added.
Next, learn the keyboard shortcuts
Now it is a matter of either memorizing or having a quick reference to the keyboard shortcuts. I have made a chart here and there is a printable one below that I have next to my computer:
Here is a printable pdf of the chart above: Shortcuts for Typing Pinyin Tone Marks
Here are the articles that I perused to figure it out:
Adding Accent marks for Pinyin El Capitan 10.11.5. (actually a discussion thread on an apple forum)
Chinese Computing Help Desk (actually for Windows and everything except Mac’s, but helped get me thinking about it)
What about bopomofo?
Although I have been trying to use bopomofo more, pinyin is definitely useful for study and communicating learning of the language. It is good to have the tones right where they need to be pronounced, instead of waiting for a number at the end of the word. I hope this will enhance all your Chinese learning!