Home macOS & Software How to type Japanese characters on a Mac

How to type Japanese characters on a Mac

by tmnsoon

The Japanese language has three different character sets, which require two input methods to type: Hiragana and Katakana. macOS makes it easy to get started typing Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji on your Mac with these character sets. Go to the System Preferences and under the Keyboard section add the “Japanese” input source:

Now if you check your Mac’s menu bar you’ll notice the Hiragana and Katakana input methods:

You can switch between the input methods using the menu bar, however it’s faster to press the space bar while holding down the “Command” to cycle through them.


With the Hiragana input method selected you can spell out Hiragana characters using the Roman alphabet (Romaji) like so:

As you type your Mac will provide autocomplete suggestions, which you can select using the Tab or Space keys to save typing out the whole word in Hiragana:


The Hiragana input method is also used to type Kanji characters. Simply spell out the word in Hiragana and your Mac will automatically convert it to Kanji when applicable (or provide multiple suggestions):


Switch to the Katakana input method in order to type Katakana words. This words the same way as Hiragana — simply spell out the word in Romaji and your Mac will automatically convert it:

Note that if you try to type a Katakana word with the Hiragana input source selected your Mac will be clever and automatically give you the Katakana characters instead of the Hiragana. For example, typing “terebi” in Hiragana mode will still give you テレビ instead of てれび. So it may be possible to use the Hiragana input method most of the time, rarely having to switch to Katakana.

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