Switch Mac OS X to Japanese

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Mac OS X already has all the features you need to read and write Japanese, but you need to enable those features before :

Change the language of the system

To change the main language of your Mac OS X system, follow these steps :

  1. open your System Preferences (located in the /Applications folder)
  2. depending on the version of your system :
    • for Mac OS 10.5 : click on International
    • for Mac OS 10.6 : click on Language & Text
  3. in the Language tab click on the Edit List... button :
    • for Mac OS 10.5 : the button is on the right of the list
    • for Mac OS 10.6 : the button is under the list
  4. in the sheet that appears, find and click the checkbox labeled 日本語, and click on OK to close this sheet
  5. in the Languages: list, drag the 日本語 label to put it in the first place of the list (on top of the other languages)

That's it for the language of the system. The changes won't take effect for the applications already opened though, but you can give it a try by quitting System Preferences and relaunching it.

Enable Japanese input

To enable the input features of Mac OS X, follow these steps :

  1. open your System Preferences (located in the /Applications folder)
  2. depending on the version of your system :
    • for Mac OS 10.5 : click on International
    • for Mac OS 10.6 : click on Language & Text
  3. open the input tab :
    • for Mac OS 10.5 : click on Input Menu
    • for Mac OS 10.6 : click on Input Sources
  4. in the input list that appears, check the input methods you need :
    • the Character Palette and Keyboard Viewer are very handy, it is a good thing to enable them :
      • for Mac OS 10.5 : Character Palette and Keyboard Viewer
      • for Mac OS 10.6 : Keyboard & Character Viewer
    • Kotoeri
      • Hiragana
      • Katakana
      • Romaji (if you really need it...)
  5. you can also check the label called Show input menu in menu bar to switch between the different methods by clicking on the little flag in your menu bar
  6. You may also want to enable the handwriting panel for traditional Chinese if you are running OSX 10.6 on a recent Mac laptop. You can use it to input most Japanese kanji

That's all for the different input methods.

Third-Party IMEs