Yahoo Key Key Chinese Input Method

by Dave Flynn | 28th April, 2010 | Software |

Finding a Chinese Input Method that is right for you isn’t easy. They all have their unique features or problems, the symbols are all in different places or they react differently based on your input. While the built-in input methods in OSX and Windows are good enough in most cases, they aren’t the best.

If you’re looking for a free input method that has lots of options, and is highly customisable, then Yahoo! Key Key is for you. Available for both Windows and Mac OSX, and supporting Pinyin and Zhuyin smart/traditional phonetic input (and also Cangjie and Simplex if you’re that way inclined), Key key features a ton of options allowing most parts of the input behaviour to be customised. Key Key also features related phrases, Traditional to Simplified Chinese realtime conversion and ‘One-Key’ access to Chinese/English dictionaries and Yahoo search. Best of all, it’s free.

If you’re Chinese is up-to-scratch, or you’re already using Pera Pera Kun, then there are further details on the Key Key introduction page.

What input method do you use? Pinyin or Zhuyin (or other)? Tell us which input method you use and why you like it in the comments!

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Dave Flynn

Dave is a designer of websites, learner of Chinese and lover of technology. Originally from the UK, he's been living in Taiwan and learning Mandarin Chinese for the last eight years. He founded and runs Chinese Hacks, a blog dedicated to effectively learning Chinese.

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Tags: #IME #Input Method #Pinyin #Yahoo Key Key #Zhuyin

10 Comments

  1. Chris

    Pinyin user here. Never really was introduced to Zhuyin until after I’d already become comfortable with pinyin, so these days I really have no urge to learn another phonetic system. I do realise they all have their advantages and disadvantages but completely disagree with people who say hanyu pinyin is awful and blah blah.’s far too easy to just dismiss it as rubbish. I think it’s fine, but of course the danger is that people treat it like English and choose not to really learn the sounds.

    In Taiwan, I would say generally those foreigners who do pursue with zhunyin are generally pretty serious about the language and often speak to a good level. Saying that however, I still have a friend who speaks god awful Chinese, even after several years, and he much prefers zhuyin over pinyin.

    For me, the only real problem with pinyin in the weird u sound, as in 旅. I’m too lazy to find the little symbol sorry. Why they chose to right this as a ‘u’ I do not understand. When you type it you type ‘v’ so why not just use that instead of sticking with the ‘u’, which causes confusion because of the other sound associated with ‘u’.

    What are your thoughts? Are you for standardizing it all?


  2. Hi Chris,
    Key Key does support both Pinyin and Zhuyin, by the way, But as for which input method I prefer, It’s Zhuyin. I can get by reading Pinyin okay, but writing it would take me forever to type a few sentences. It all comes down to 習慣, and what you learnt first.

    I am for standardising, in some form or other – although in Taiwan even which version of Pinyin to be used isn’t standardised, never mind should it be zhuyin or pinyin. Going 離題一點, but something I would like to see is tone marks on street signs, if they’re going to put Pinyin on street signs then don’t do a half arsed job, put the tone marks on too! ;)

    I’ll write a post up over the next few days with my ideas about why I prefer zhuyin over pinyin, and what the advantages and disadvantages of both might be.


  3. While the yahoo program nominally supports pinyin, it only worked after several tries for me, and the support/usage is embarrassing. Any person who uses pinyin obviously needs to be using another program (sogou/google, microsoft, etc), which are light years better than this thing.


  4. @transliterationisms good point, being a Zhuyin typer myself, I find Key Key and excellent choice, although if you are strictly Pinyin then Google’s option might well be the way to go.


  5. Hi Dave,

    I did not know about Yahoo Key Key – thanks for this review!

    It would be great if you could post a comparison between Yahoo Key Key and Fun Input Toy (the tool I use on my Mac). The Apple’ standard input method was not great, and Google Pinyin is (was?) not available on Mac, so went for Fun Input Toy.

    I wonder if Yahoo Key Key is better and I should consider switching on the Mac? Let me know what you think if you tried both.

    Thanks!


  6. Hi Nick,

    The reason I use Yahoo Key key is for the Zhuyin (as you mentioned the default Mac input method isn’t great) though as @transliterations commented above, Key Key might not be the best for Pinyin users.

    Google Pinyin looks still not to be available for Mac, and as far as I remember Fun Input Doesn’t support Zhuyin, my Pinyin isn’t as good as my Zhuyin but I will try it out and see what it’s like.

    Dave


  7. chris

    Great work with this website! I have been in China for two years and only just started to make an effort learning the language. I’m a mac user so it’s a great relief to find information like this. Byki seems to be the best application I have found for learning Chinese – maybe you have already covered it but defo worth a second mention if you have.
    Many thanks, CB


  8. Nana

    Hi Dave, the link to key key is broken. Is it still available for download? Could you please repost the link again? Just recently started learning zhuyin and I have been searching for a zhuyin input method. Something that could take zhuyin and convert to chinese characters.

    Thanks for the helpful post!

    Nana


    • Hi Nana, Thanks for letting me know! I have updated all of the links to reflect the changes that Yahoo had made. I’m glad you like Key Key, it has been my main input method since I started Typing Chinese using Zhuyin.

      Dave


  9. Hi Dave,

    If you’re interested in Chinese input methods and you have a Windows machine, you might want to check out http://jadegazebo.com. It’s an input method I’ve made for Traditional Chinese.

    It’s a shaped-based method like Cangjie, but much better.

    1) It allows characters to be typed in multiple ways, so you don’t have to guess the correct decomposition.

    2) It tries to anticipate what character you’re trying to type, and prompts you for it.

    3) And best of all, you don’t have to memorize a set of “auxillary shapes” for each key. The component shapes either resemble what is on the key, or the system prompts you for it.

    I haven’t seen these features in any other input method, though I’ve often wished to have them.

    I’d love to hear your feedback on it.