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What's an IME?

An "Input Method Extension" is the software that allows you to type Japanese (or other languages) on your computer.

Windows IME

Instructions for setting up the IME are given in Just the FAQs#Windows Instructions.

IME Problems

  • I can't find the language bar

If you can't see the language bar at all or if it doesn't seem to be showing all the buttons try the following.

  1. Right click a blank space on the task bar.
    1. Choose 'Toolbars'
    2. If there is a tick next to "Language bar" then uncheck it.
  2. Right click a blank space on the task bar.
    1. Choose 'Toolbars'
    2. Click "Language bar" to set it to checked (with tick).

The language bar should now be fully visible on the right hand side of the taskbar.

  • Whatever I type comes out as ハナミミンソクチスチソカイト

You have accidentally selected KANA on the language bar. Ensure you can see the right hand of the language bar (see above) then un-check KANA.

  • It asks for my Windows XP disk but I don't have one.

If you have a legitimate copy of Windows XP but your disk is lost / broken then you should be able to get a replacement or borrow one. MS Global IME 5 doesn't require a Windows disk to install but is for Windows Me, Windows 98, Windows 95, and Windows NT 4.0 users who don't have Office XP. I am highly doubtful that it will work otherwise (although a few people seem to say it does).

If you still can't get anywhere then use a third party IME. NJStar Communicator is a reasonable product and has a 30 day trial period.

IME Shortcuts

These shortcuts should work with MS Global IME for Windows XP in Standard mode however they can differ according to settings made.

  • Switch language (e.g. [EN] to [JP]) : <alt>+<shift>
  • Hiragana mode : <ctrl>+<capslock>
  • Katakana mode : <alt>+<capslock>
  • Direct input (ascii) : Type \\
  • Change selection to KATAKANA : <F7>

From the language bar select Tools → Properties → Settings to add or change keyboard shortcuts. For example setting re-henkan (再変換) to a key (like F12) is a very good idea. re-henkan can be used as a quick (if not entirely reliable) way to find out how a word in kanji is read.

Who needs English anyway?

There are some extra, somewhat extreme, steps you can take to make using Japanese on your computer even easier.

  1. Set "Default language for non-unicode programs" to "Japanese"

Instructions are given in GMAN: Windows XP Japanese Input.

  1. Remove the English Language Input

Again in the GMAN link is a picture of the Text Services and Input Languages dialog. It should have Japanese keyboard and English keyboard shown by now. Select the English keyboard and click Remove.

The first one above will enable many Japanese programs and games to run properly when they would otherwise display Mojibake.

The second one removes the [EN] and [JP] selection from your language bar - you are always JP. I do this because it is confusing being able to switch between English and Japanese in two different ways. 1. By switching from Japanese language input to English language input and 2. By switching between Japanse (hiragana) and Japanese (direct input).

Linux IME

See your distribution documentation for more details, there are several ways to input foreign characters under Linux. The most popular method is a combination of programs.

  • Smart Common Input Method (SCIM) -- SCIM is a front-end to various back-end modules for different languages. There are back-end modules for Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Swahili, Arabic, you name it. SCIM provides a central place to select and configure these various back-end modules.
  • Anthy -- Anthy is a Japanese input module that provides Hiragana, Katakana input and dictionary lookup for Kanji.

Most Linux distributions make this easy for you by providing packages that you can just install and be done with it. For instance, in my distribution (Gentoo) I just had to install the 'scim' and 'scim-anthy' packages.

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