Software for Mac OS

Aug 282012
OS 10.8 new and improved features: Dictionary

Mac OS 10.8 added a Chinese dictionary to the built-in Dictionary app. This is a Chinese-Chinese (simplified characters only) dictionary and so will not be very useful to beginning learners. The dictionary has to be enabled before you can use it: Open the Dictionary app (in the Applications folder). From the menubar, select Dictionary > Preferences. Check the box next to 现代汉语规范词典. While you’re in the Dictionary app preferences, you may want to enable a Chinese version of Wikipedia; both traditional and simplified are available. First check the box next to Wikipedia and then the language choices will appear. If you are looking for a Chinese-English dictionary to add to the Dictionary app, there is 小词典 Xiao Cidian by Rob Rohan. 小词典 uses CC-CEDICT. Download the desktop version (free as of this writing) from the and follow the installation instructions on the website. Once installed, you can use it … [read more]

Aug 192012
OS 10.8 new and improved features: fonts for pinyin

As promised in the last post, here’s a look at the roman character sets of the new Chinese fonts in Mountain Lion and whether they will work for displaying pinyin. The short answer is that most seem to have the appropriate letters with tone marks, but may display less than ideally. First of all, Weibei clearly lacks the necessary combined letter/tone marks. So it will work for sticking English words (with no accent marks or other diacritics) into your Chinese text and having the style match, but not for pinyin. Lantinghei and Yuppy seem to have the necessary combined letter/tone marks, but the kerning of the text goes wrong around the letters with tone marks. It may be that these characters are actually substitutions and that’s what’s throwing off the kerning, but if so, they look very like the fonts in question. Baoli, Libian, Xingkai, and Yuanti display the combined letters/tone marks … [read more]

Jul 302012
OS 10.8 new and improved features: fonts

I admit to being a bit of a font and typography geek, so I was very excited to hear that eight new fonts were being introduced to OS X for the Mac with 10.8. Only one of these, Yuppy (SC & TC), is installed by default. To get the others, just launch the Font Book app (a standard part of the system which can be found in the Applications folder). In the list of “All Fonts” look for Baoli SC Langtinghei SC & TC Libian SC Wawati SC & TC Weibi SC & TC Xingkai SC Yuanti SC Each will be labeled “Off.” With a font selected, simply go to the menubar under “Edit” and choose “Enable …” The font will be downloaded and installed. For those that have separate traditional and simplified families, you can choose which to install. I was glad to see that a few of the … [read more]

Jul 292012
OS 10.8 new and improved features: text-to-speech

Last Wednesday Apple released a new version of OS X (10.8, Mountain Lion) for the Mac, which includes several new and improved features for Chinese users. I say “for Chinese users,” rather than “for China” (the way Apple puts it), since these features benefit all users of Chinese, not just those who are Chinese. Our first topic is text-to-speech. Chinese text-to-speech was introduced in Mac OS 10.7 just about a year ago (see this post, where I predicted that this feature would get better). Now in 10.8, the two Mandarin voices Ting-Ting (China) and Ya-Ling (Taiwan) have been improved (there is also a Cantonese voice, Sin-Ji, that I have not tried). If you already downloaded the voices in 10.7, the improvements will come in a software update after you upgrade to 10.8. Note that if you did not install the Chinese voices under 10.7, you can get them by opening the System Preferences and … [read more]

Aug 222011
Vertical text in Mac OS 10.7 Lion

Another new feature in Mac OS 10.7 “Lion” is support for vertical text (竖排 / 豎排 / shùpái), that is, text running from the top of the page to the bottom. (Lion’s Chinese text-to-speech feature was discussed here.) Chinese was traditionally written vertically (see this Wikipedia article), as in the image below. You can see 三字經  (三字经 Sān Zì Jīng or “Three-Character Classic”)  at the upper right of the page. Vertical text is dead simple to implement in TextEdit (which is included with the OS): just go to the menubar and choose Format > Make Layout Vertical. The text will begin at the right side of the page and run from top to bottom. Below is a screenshot of some of the San Zi Jing in TextEdit. In this case, I began with the traditional version, so it runs from the top right down to 義 yì. After the gap, the simplified version begins and runs to the … [read more]