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How to type in Chinese on an iPhone / iPad

Do you have an iPhone / iPad, or maybe an iPod touch? I use my phone to send messages in Chinese, browse Chinese websites and look up words in dictionary apps like Pleco. It’s a great way to practise the characters you’re learning, chat to Chinese friends and keep the language fresh in your mind.

Here’s how to use the Chinese keyboard on your iPhone:

1. Press the button in the middle at the bottom of the phone to get back to the home screen, then find and tap the ‘Settings’ icon

iPhone settings icons

2. Tap ‘General’

Settings screen

3. Tap ‘Keyboard’

General Settings screen
4. Tap ‘Keyboards’ at the top

Keyboards screen
5. Tap ‘Add New Keyboard’

Add New Keyboard
6. Tap Chinese (Simplified) or Chinese (Traditional) depending on the type of Chinese you want to type.

Choose Keyboard
7. Tap ‘Pinyin-QWERTY’ to add the Pinyin keyboard. You can choose ‘Handwriting’ if you also want to be able to enter characters by writing them on the screen. Then tap ‘Done’ and press the button at the bottom of the screen in the middle to go back to the home screen again.

Choosing type of Chinese keyboard
You have now switched on the Chinese keyboard that comes with iOS, and you can now give it a try. Go to any place where you would type in text and tap on the text field to start to enter text. Then tap and hold the globe icon in the bottom left of the screen.

Notes enter text
Then slide your finger up to select the Chinese keyboard you want to use. In this example, I have chosen the Simplified Chinese – Pinyin keyboard.

Selecting input method

When you want to switch back to the English keyboard, you can do it in the same way.

Practise writing some basic notes or sentences in Chinese. You can also try downloading HelloTalk or WeChat to find Chinese speakers to talk to.