Cantonese on Mac

How to write, type, listen, dictate, and use Siri in Cantonese on Apple Computers, MacBooks, and macOS.


Write

To input Chinese by Handwriting or strokes:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources and select “+”
  2. Under Chinese, Traditional – choose between:
  3. Ensure “Show Input menu in menu bar” is ON
  4. macOS image showing Input Sources

You can now select your input method in the top-right.

macOS image of input switcher showing U.S. English, Chinese Trackpad Handwriting, and Cangjie

Type

Cantonese typing (Jyutping, Yale, IPA), is not installed by default on Apple's Mac computers.

However, Chrome Input Tools is a good alternative. It supports a wide range of Cantonese input methods running out of the Chrome Browser.

Chrome Browser image of Chrome Input Cantonese Tools

Install Chrome Input Tools for Cantonese here.

🙇 Please also consider asking Apple to add Cantonese Typing to Mac.


Dictate

To input Chinese by dictating Cantonese to your Apple computer:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation > Language > Customize
  2. Enable ‘Chinese (Cantonese): Hong Kong (China)’
  3. macOS dictation settings showing Chinese (Cantonese): Hong Kong (China)

Note down your shortcut for dictation. By default this is ‘Press Fn (Function) Key Twice’.

Now instead of typing, you can speak Cantonese Chinese to your Mac and have it transcribe it.

Image of a Mac transcribing Cantonese: lei ho ma

Note: If you’re bilingual, you can easily switch between speaking in Cantonese, English, and other languages within the dictation popup.


Listen (TTS)

To get your Macbook or iMac to read text to you in Cantonese:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Speech > System Voice > Customize
  2. Enable ‘Chinese (Hong Kong): Sin-ji' voice
  3. (Optional) Enable ‘Speak selected text when the key is pressed’
  4. Image of a Mac enabling Cantonese (Chinese Hong Kong) Text To Speech under Accessibility

Now you can listen to any English or Chinese text by: 
(Highlighting Text) > (Right Click) > Speech > Start Speaking. If enabled, a shortcut can be used once the text is highlighted.

Image of selected Cantonese text on a Mac offering the option to be read out loud

Siri

To enable Siri, Apple's voice assistant, to understand Cantonese:

  1. Go to Settings > Siri & Search > Language and select “Chinese (Cantonese - Hong Kong)”
  2. Image of Siri with Chinese Cantonese Hong Kong Language option on Mac

Now you can ask Siri questions in Cantonese.

Siri being asked a question in Cantonese

Footnotes

Note: This document is written for devices running macOS Sierra (OSX 10.12) or higher. Instructions vary for older devices.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please get in touch at: cantonese.tools@gmail.com