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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 note what file name(s) it is looking for when installing you may be able to get them copied from a friends computer.
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.
  • My " has turned into a @ !
Unfortunately when you have Japanese selected as the input language it automatically defaults to the Japanese keyboard and you can't select your national keyboard in the normal fashion. The Japanese layout is quite similar to the American so US users won't have much trouble. People with UK keyboards will find their pound (sterling) sign has disappeared and several bits of punctuation have been shuffled around. In more extreme cases (German Keyboards I think) some of the actual alphabet letters will have swapped position.
The easiest solution is to "Get used to it." Sorry.
Alternatively I've heard some people have succeeded by copying around keyboard files in system directories and / or editing registry values. This is not for the faint of heart to attempt! But if you try it and it works please give full details here. ;-)
  • My (backslash) has turned into a (yen symbol)!

You set the default for non-unicode programs to Japanese didn't you? Set it back to English (see next section).

  • Some of my IME's conversions seem to be messed up.
Sometimes (rarely) your IME's dictionary can become corrupted. If you've tried everything else to fix your problem you can reset your dictionary to the original default settings and content. However you will lose any setting changes and word additions you've made.

Language Bar -> Tools -> Properties -> Dictionary -> Fix (button)

  • I type in the kana for a word, but the kanji isn't in the choice list.
See this thread.

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>
  • Switch Direct input to Kana (and vice versa) : <alt>+`
  • Change selection to KATAKANA : <F7>
  • To type ○ type まる and select from kanji list.
  • To type × type ばつ and select from kanji list.
  • To type 【】 and other special brackets, type かっこ and select from kanji list.
  • For many others: きごう.

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.

2. 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. There are few side effects except that the backslash character will display as a yen symbol.
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.

The Penultimate Japanese IME Guide

The Penultimate Japanese IME Guide... well, almost. :) by Kurious

This guide applies to the Japanese IME in Windows Vista. Feedback is welcome!

To install the Japanese IME: Start Menu → Control Panel → Regional and Language Options → Keyboards and Languages → Change keyboards... → Add... → Japanese (Japan) → Keyboard → Microsoft IME → OK → OK → OK. Tip. To switch between input languages, use Alt-Shift.

To show/hide language bar: Right-click on an empty place in the taskbar → Toolbars → Language bar Several language bar options: Right-click on the language bar Tip. If you are trying the Japanese IME for the first time, it is a good idea to begin by learning your way around the language bar. Tip. Changes to the language bar usually, but not always, apply to the current application only.

Make Japanese IME the default: Right-click on the language bar → Settings... → Default input language. Note: You can't remove the default input language. To remove the Japanese IME, make some other input language the default.

Advanced tip. If you only use the Japanese IME, you can disable Alt-Shift at this location: Right-click on the language bar → Settings... → Advanced Key Settings.

To avoid confusion, here are some useful terms. Input modes: 1. Hiragana 2. Full-width katakana 3. Half-width katakana 4. Full-width alphanumeric 5. Half-width alphanumeric (when the IME is off, this is the input mode used)

Input methods: 1. Romaji. In this method, you type roman characters and can convert them to Japanese if the IME is on. 2. Kana. In this method, the keyboard is treated as if it were a Japanese keyboard, where every key usually corresponds to a kana.

Tip A. Use Ctrl-Shift-CapsLock to toggle the input method. The kana input method can't coexist with an alphanumeric input mode. This means that when selecting the kana input method, the hiragana input mode will be selected if an alphanumeric input mode was. Also please note that, if you have selected the kana input method, selecting an alphanumeric input mode will disable the kana input method temporarily, and it will be reestablished when a non-alphanumeric input mode is selected. Note. If your computer does not recognize a password entry, it might be that you had pressed Ctrl-Shift-CapsLock and are using the kana input method. Try pressing that combination again.

Tip B. The Japanese keyboard layout can be seen in this Wikipedia page. Before saving the image to your computer, you can enlarge it twice by clicking on it. Please note that the む and ろ keys are located elsewhere in the keyboard due to physical differences. Press \ to obtain む, and press ` to obtain ろ.

Tip C. The "kana status" in the language bar will tell you which is the current input method.

To change input modes: Ctrl-CapsLock This always selects the hiragana input mode with a single exception: if the default input mode in the IME Properties has been changed to something other than the hiragana input mode, and Ctrl-CapsLock is pressed for the first time since the current application opened, and the default input mode has not yet been selected, then the default input mode will be selected. On all other subsequent uses of Ctrl-CapsLock for this application, the hiragana input mode will always be selected. Tip. To avoid the exception, it's just better to keep the default input mode as hiragana. Alt-CapsLock This always selects the full-width katakana input mode unless the half-width katakana mode was already selected in which case nothing happens. Shift-CapsLock This toggles between the full-width alphanumeric and hiragana input modes. Alt-` This toggles between the half-width alphanumeric input mode and the previous input mode. Selecting half-width alphanumeric will "turn off" the IME unless there is some pending input, in which case the IME will be turned off after the conversion completes, unless the input mode gets changed back again before the conversion.

For the following, the IME must be "turned on" and without any pending input. To "turn on" the IME, select an input mode other than half-width alphanumeric. Ctrl-F10 IME Menu Ctrl-F10 + H + C IME Help Ctrl-F10 + R IME Properties Ctrl-F10 + P IME Pad (it can only be navigated with the mouse as all keystrokes still apply to the underlying window) Tip. Clicking on the IME Pad window icon in the title bar opens a special menu.

Ctrl-F10 + N + H Hiragana Ctrl-F10 + N + K Full-width katakana Ctrl-F10 + N + A Half-width katakana Ctrl-F10 + N + L Full-width alphanumeric Ctrl-F10 + N + P Half-width alphanumeric Ctrl-F10 + C + G General conversion mode Ctrl-F10 + C + N Bias-for-names conversion mode Ctrl-F10 + C + S Bias-for-speech conversion mode Ctrl-F10 + C + O No conversion mode

When there is input pending: F5 IME Pad; if the name of a radical was input, the IME pad will show its kanji (try it with やま (山), ゆう (夕), etc) Tip. Mouse over the various radicals and kanji in the IME Pad to learn their readings F6 Hiragana; press multiple times to katakanize from the beginning (type many kana beforehand to see the effect) F7 Full-width katakana; press multiple times to hiraganize from the end (type many kana beforehand to see the effect) F8 Half-width katakana; press multiple times to hiraganize from the end (type many kana beforehand to see the effect) F9 Full-width alphanumeric; press multiple times to loop like so: lowercase → uppercase → mixed case F10 Half-width alphanumeric; press multiple times to loop like so: lowercase → uppercase → mixed case Spacebar Perform default conversion; press again to open the candidate list ← and → Select phrase (try it with 私の名前); you can also use Ctrl-← and Ctrl-→ Shift-← and Shift-→ Modify phrase boundary (try it with 私の名前)

When the candidate list is open: Tab Expand/contract candidate list (try it with きごう) Spacebar, Shift-Spacebar, ↓ and ↑ Navigate options forward and backward PageUp, PageDown, Home and End More navigation options; particularly useful when the candidate list is expanded Ctrl-← and Ctrl-→ Select phrase (try it with 私の名前); ← and → are now used to navigate the candidate list Esc Close candidate list; press again to undo conversions Enter Convert to highlighted option Number Convert to the option with the indicated number Tip. After a conversion has been applied, press Ctrl+Backspace to go back to conversion mode. Shift-F10 + S Toggle between auto-tuning order (default) and kanji order; useful when entering glyphs using きごう Tip. When there is no pending input, Shift-F10 is the same as right-clicking where the cursor is. This is a general Windows feature, not an IME one.

Useful tips and tricks: Press [ and ] to type and (single quotation marks); convert to type and (double quotation marks) Press - to type (prolonged sound mark) Press / to type (interpunct) Press \ to type (Japanese yen sign) Press Ctrl-Spacebar to enter a half-width space Press Ctrl-Shift-Spacebar to enter a full-width space (same as plain spacebar when there is no pending input) Type and convert wi to enter and/or Type and convert we to enter and/or Type and convert 。。。to enter Type and convert <- to enter Type and convert -> to enter Type and convert から to enter Type and convert すらっしゅ to enter and/or Type and convert かっこ to enter several types of brackets Type and convert きごう to enter many different signs/glyphs Type and convert やじるし to enter a few different types of arrow glyphs Type and convert しかく to enter a few different types of square glyphs Type and convert さんかく to enter a few different types of triangle glyphs Type and convert さんかくけい to enter the right triangle glyph () Type and convert ほし to enter a few different types of star glyphs Type and convert まる to enter a few different types of circle glyphs Type and convert ばつ to enter the cross glyph (×) Type and convert てん to enter a few different types of dot glyphs Type and convert たんい to enter a several types of currency and measurement glyphs Type and convert ろしあ to enter Russian characters Tip. More useful keywords available here [1]. Not all conversions are available on the Japanese IME of non-Asian Windows. You can download various dictionaries of 顔文字 (Japanese style smilies) here [2].

Useful with the kana input method: Type and convert ぎもんふ to enter Type and convert かんたんふ to enter Type and convert ころん to enter : (also available through てん) Type and convert せみころん to enter ; (also available through てん) Tip. If you want to type alphanumeric while using the kana input method, it might be better to just press Shift-CapsLock for full-width alphanumeric mode (twice if using katakana) or Alt-` for half-width alphanumeric mode. When you change back to hiragana or katakana (using hotkeys as described in sections above), the kana input method will be resumed as well.

Vertical writing (縦書き) using Wordpad: Just use the fonts that begin with @. Try "@MS PGothic". Text is not displayed vertically (i.e., it is not WYSIWYG), however, the printout should look as expected. Note that full-width alphanumeric rotates along with the rest of the characters but half-width alphanumeric does not.

Tip. For more elaborate IME features, check out the IME Help.

Thanks to richvh for information contributed.

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