Reading Chinese on the Mac

This page is meant to supplement other pages available that explain how to do similar things on other platforms. For a good list of other sources, click here.

In order to be able to view and edit Chinese texts, you need the Chinese Language Kit or a Chinese System, both of which are available for purchase from Apple Computer. Since the tools used are quite different depending on whether you have the Language Kit or not, this page is divided into sections:


How to read and edit Chinese documents with the Chinese Language Kit installed

Note: Please read the Language Kit Documentation for basic instruction on how to install and use the Language Kit. Contact Apple Computer for information about acquiring the software. Please do not contact me with questions of this nature. Thank you.

How to view GB and Big5 documents directly on the web:

The preferrred method is to use Netscape 1.1N. If you do not have Netscape you might want to consider obtaining a copy (it's free for educational use!). You can also use an old version of NCSA Mosaic.

Using Netscape 1.1N:

  1. Select Preferences from the Options menu.

  2. From the pulldown menu at the top of the preferences window select the Fonts and Colors option.

  3. In the Fonts/Encodings section fill out the options as follows replacing "Proper Chinese Font" with the font you wish to use (use a simplified character font such as "SIL Song Reg Jian" or "Beijing" for GB encoding or a traditional character font such as "Apple LiSung Light" or "Taipei" for Big5 encoding):

    For the Encoding: Latin1
    Use the Proportional Font: Proper Chinese Font
    Use the Fixed Font: Proper Chinese Font
    Defualt Encoding: MacRoman

  4. Click on the OK button to change the font and view the document in Chinese.

    Note: You probably won't want to view most of your documents in these fonts as they tend to not look as nice on non-Chinese characters as the normal non-Chinese-Language-Kit fonts. To change back follow the steps above and replace "Proper Chinese Font" with your normal fonts used for viewing web documents (the default for Netscape is to use Times size 12 for the Proportional font and Courier 10 for the Fixed Font).

  5. To view Hz encoded files, see the section on how to view Hz encoded text documents. These files cannot be viewed directly on the Web.

Using NCSA Mosaic 1.0.3C:

  1. Obtain a copy of NCSA Mosaic v. 1.0.3C (476 Kb).

  2. Once you have gotten the file and decompressed it (The file is a bin-hexed self extracting archive - You must have a program that can decode BinHex to use it), run the program.

  3. Select styles from the option menu and select a Chinese font with which to view the document.

  4. Select the "font" check box (to the left of the font list) and click on the "Gapply" button to view the entire document in this font or select a type of tag and click on the "Apply" button to just change one type of tag (I recommend changing the entire document with "Gapply" although this will lead to some characters that work fine under most English fonts not being displayed properly - The other method should only be attempted by those with a background knowledge of HTML tag types). Remember to use the proper font for the encoding scheme: Big5 encoding uses traditional character fonts (such as Li Sung Light and Tapei) and GB encoding uses simplified character fonts (such as Beijing and Song).

  5. To view Hz encoded files, see the section on how to view Hz encoded text documents. These files cannot be viewed directly on the Web.

How to view GB and Big5 encoded documents in a text format (documents on the World Wide Web can be saved in text format using the save document (often called just save as) feature on your web browser - see the documentation for your web browser for details):

  1. Open the file using your favorite word processor or text editor (this works with most of the programs I have tried including Nisus Writer (see note below), Word Perfect 3.0, Simple Text and BBEdit Lite 3.0 - there may be other programs with which it doesn't work).

  2. Select the text that should be changed to Chinese (should look like Gibberish right now).

  3. Choose the desired font. If you are using Nisus Writer, hold down the shift key while you change the font (thanks to Michael Farmer at Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison for that tip).

  4. Voila! If the characters don't appear to be correct, you probably are trying to view a GB encoded text in a traditional character font or a Big5 encoded text in a simplified character font. Try it with one of the other Chinese fonts that comes with the Chinese Language Kit.

  5. The text can now be edited as you would edit any other document with the Chinese Language Kit. See the CLK documentation for details.

How to view and edit Hz encoded documents in a text format:

The Chinese Language Kit does not directly support the Hz encoding scheme. Therefore, in order to edit an Hz encoded document, you must first convert it to another format (see the section on viewing documents without the Chinese Language Kit if you just want to view the document without editing it). To convert it to GB encoding follow the steps below:
  1. Obtain a copy of HZ 2.0 (90 Kb) and decompress it (it is a binhexed self extracting archive).

  2. Run the program hz2gb and select the proper files for standard input and standard output.

  3. Follow the steps above on how to view GB and Big5 text documents.

Viewing Documents without the use of the Chinese Language Kit

If you are trying to view documents found on the World Wide Web, you need to download them to your hard drive using the save document or save as feature of your web browser. See the documentation for your web browser if you don't know how to do this.
  1. Obtain a copy of one of the following programs:

  2. Decompress it (they are BinHexed self extracting archives).

  3. Open the file you wish to view with the application you just downloaded.

  4. Select the encoding scheme from the "Ziku" menu.

Places to go from here:


Page created by Mark W. Giles, mwg@dartmouth.edu.
Revised by Chen JieTao Last Modified 1/11/1999.