Handling East Asian Characters In Computer
Operating system (OS) / platform in East Asian language or special software is not needed. It is built-in in Windows 2000 and later. This guide uses Windows XP for example.

By the way if you have just bought a new computer and the computer cannot display the character you want, there is nothing wrong with the computer. Do not blame the tech guy. Just come to this guide.

This guide can be used by the MIS department in the company if there are users who request for working with East Asian characters.

Related fonts
These are the fonts with big file size.

Font to display all East Asian characters in Internet browser only: Arial Unicode MS

Common font to display a particular East Asian character in file / folder name and Internet browser:
Simplified Chinese 简体中文: SimSun
Traditional Chinese 繁體中文: MingLiU
Korean 한국어: Gaeul (without Hanja), Gulim (with Hanja). Hanja means Chinese character.
Japanese 日本語: MS Gothic

Internet Browser
Two ways to do it. Either
a) find the font you want above and put it into the "Fonts" folder in "WINDOWS" or "WINNT" folder, or
b) change language option setting.
Due to possibility of copyright issue, I cannot provide the fonts here. So I am going to talk about the second way.

I am going to use Internet Explorer (IE) in this example. Other Internet browsers more or less have the same layout too.
1) In the Internet browser, go to View > Encoding > More. If you can see the language you want, just choose it and skip the following steps. If you cannot see it like the picture below, go to step 2.
no font

2) Go to Start > Control Panel. Choose Regional and Language Options. Go to Languages tab.
languages tab

3) Choose "Install files for East Asian languages". A dialog box will pop up. Press OK.
supplemental language

4) Choose Apply. The restart dialog box will pop up. No matter you choose Yes or No, it will still work in this case.

5) Now in Internet browser you should be able to see the language you want. Choose it.
has font

6) I choose Simplified Chinese (GB2312). Voila.

Some non-English computer programs (such as games and anti-spyware programs) do not have built-in character support. They need the character environment so you need to change the operating system encoding. For text file however you can change its font setting (e.g. in Notepad: Format>Font...) to always use any of the font mentioned above, without going thru the steps below.

1) Go to Start > Control Panel. Choose Regional and Language Options. Go to Advanced tab.

2) At "Language for non-Unicode programs" section, choose the language you want from the drop-down list. Please note that if you have not done the steps under my "Internet browser" section above, you will not see the language you want on the list.

3) Pick Apply. A dialog box will pop up.

4) Take Yes. The restart dialog box pops up. Select Yes.\ After the system restart, you will be able to see the character in your text file or program.

Note that after doing this, the font displayed in some English programs (e.g. Lotus Notes) will also change. Some people think the font is ugly.

Writing (input)
1) Go to Start > Control Panel. Choose Regional and Language Options. Go to Languages tab. Press "Details..." button and "Text Services and Input Languages" dialog appears.

2) In the "Installed services" section, choose "Add..." and this will appear:

3) Choose the input language you want from the top drop-down list. Please note that if you have not done the steps under my "Internet browser" section above, you will not see the language you want in the list.

4) Choose the input method editor (IME) you prefer in the Keyboard layout/IME drop-down list after ticking the box. I prefer "Microsoft Pinyin IME" for Chinese (PRC - People Republic of China).

5) Choose OK and you will be back to "Text Services and Input Languages" box. Press "Apply" and a deep blue "EN" button will appear on the taskbar. Click on it and you will see your input method.

If your input method is Simplified Chinese and your system has been set to Chinese (PRC) environment, you can even access the input method instantly by pressing Ctrl and Spacebar together. If the system is not in PRC, after choosing the input method using your mouse for the first time, you will still be able to switch easily by pressing Ctrl and Spacebar together for the following usage until the next reboot.

Issues I have discovered
If a file / folder name is written in an East Asian language but the system environment is not set to that language, you will not be able to zip the file / folder. You should change the file name to English in order to zip it.

Even if the system environment is set to the language, CHM (Compiled HTML Help) file that is saved in that language cannot be opened. You should change the file name to English in order to open it.

If a file / folder name is written in the language and the system environment is in English, it cannot be updated in Briefcase.

If the system encoding is set to an East Asian language, digital signature (for example in for online tax reporting) may not proceed and you should switch to the default English system.

Smart quotes (“example_1”, example_2’s) are quotation marks that look like tadpoles. They are treated as East Asian encoding by the system and will not display properly or will have the issues mentioned above. You should change them to straight quotes ("example_1", example_2's). The same happens with dash (–). You should change it to hyphen (-). If your Microsoft Word keeps on changing your straight quotes to smart and the hyphen to dash you can go to "AutoFormat As You Type" tab in Tools > AutoCorrect Options to change the setting.
autoformat as you type

When the main window (the one with contact list) of Windows Live Messenger Version 2009 (Build 14.0.8064.206 and 14.0.8089.726) is minimized to system tray in Windows XP, input in chat window with East Asian characters will not work. Luckily this is not a serious bug. Just do not minimize the main window to system tray then it will be just fine.

Specially for Chinese input user
I am sorry. Currently I am only good in Chinese input. I hope I can include tricks for other languages too in future.

Sometimes after installing the Pinyin IME, the candidate characters may not appear for you to choose from when you type on. Just change the setting below:

1) Go to "Properties" under the Context Menu.
context menu

2) In the Properties dialog box, tick "Prompt step by step" under "Candidate option" and click OK.
properties Please note that after candidate option / prompt is enabled, we will not be able to input tone (聲調) by typing 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 after the pinyin.

Try get 2010 version (msi - Microsoft Installer) of Microsoft Pinyin IME, which is better than the default version in Windows XP.
Posted: 2007-05-14; updated: 2013-05-03 by Ong Seng Aun.
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