Note: Once upon a time, many applications did not support Chinese text, or only partly supported it. This page carefully tracked and explained the changes in Chinese-language capabilities (or lack thereof) in every new version of a given piece of software. Today, thanks to Unicode, there is little need for anything like that. As a result, this page now only tracks applications with Chinese-specific language and text-handling features.

Text Processing

Microsoft Office 2011

Microsoft Office has a long and varied history when it comes to its handling of Chinese on the Mac OS. Archived entries on older versions of Microsoft Office: Office 2001; Office X; Office 2004; Office 2008.

Office 2011 with Service Pack 1 installed is fully Unicode-savvy (for Chinese text, at least). When you install from an original DVD, the same Chinese fonts are installed as Office 2004 and 2008, but when you install the 14.1.0 update (a.k.a. Office 2011 Service Pack 1), they are replaced by a set of fourteen new Asian fonts in the /Library/Fonts/Microsoft folder, including nine Chinese fonts:

  • SimHei.ttf (v5.01)
  • SimSun.ttf (v5.0.4), SimSun-ExtB.ttf (v5.00)
  • PMingLiU.ttf (v7.00), PMingLiU-ExtB.ttf (v7.00)
  • MingLiU.ttf (v7.00), MingLiU-ExtB.ttf (v7.00)
  • MingLiU_HKSCS.ttf (v7.00), MingLiU_HKSCS-ExtB.ttf (v7.00)

Note: These fonts are the same or newer than those included with Windows 7. For details, see Fonts. The other five are Himalaya, Yi Baiti, Mongolian Baiti, and Tai Le (two weights).

To activate the advanced East Asian features in Office 2011 applications, you must use the Microsoft Language Register (in the Additional Tools folder). If you have Service Pack 1 (see above) installed, you can choose between Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Japanese in the pop-up menu that appears. Features available in the Format menu in Word 2011 include phonetic guides, combined characters, and enclosed characters. The phonetic guides feature adds Pinyin to the text if you chose Simplified Chinese in the Microsoft Language Register, and Zhuyin if you chose Traditional Chinese. Support for changes in text direction (i.e., vertical text) is available in both the Format menu and the Formatting Palette. Chinese can be used for numbered lists, page numbers, footnote/endnote numbers, and so on.

If you need to handle documents created by any version of Office for Windows on a regular basis in Mac OS X, Office 2011 is an excellent solution. It can read files created by any version of Word for Windows, including the localized Chinese versions of Windows 95 and above. It also includes a "Compatibility Report" feature designed to address the problem of moving documents to Windows.


Open-source. Handles text documents, presentations, databases, spreadsheets, and drawings. You can specify a default font for Chinese.


Mellel is an innovative word processor that uses style settings (character and paragraph) to manage multilingual text in documents.

Nisus Writer

Designed for multilingual users. Comes in two editions, Pro and Express.


By Michiaki Yamashita. There are two editions. The free iText Express supports vertical text handling. Upgrade to iText Pro ($12) to also support ruby/furigana text.

Jedit X

This text editor handles problems with CJK text documents especially well. Supports vertical-text page layout in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Highly recommended.

Page Layout

Adobe InDesign

All editions of InDesign CS5 share a common file format, but the Roman editions do not have the typographical, layout grid, and frame grid tools for editing East Asian text that are available in the Japanese and Chinese/Korean ("CCK") editions. This is also true for InDesign CS4 and earlier. Note that only one edition of InDesign can be installed at one time on a system—you can't install a Japanese or CCK build on a machine that already has a Roman build installed, or vice-versa.

All editions of Photoshop and Illustrator come with East Asian type options built into their Preferences.

Note: Templates that allow you to use Chinese and Japanese features, including vertical text and correct line-break rules, in non-Asian editions of InDesign CS and CS2 (also work in CS3) are available here.

Quark XPress

QuarkXPress 8 and above is Unicode-savvy. If you plan to use East Asian languages in Quark, we strongly recommend that you purchase the "PLUS Edition," which includes a complete set of East Asian typography and layout tools (for example, vertical text and correct line-break rules for Chinese).

Note: Earlier versions of Quark for Mac OS X do not fully support Chinese text.



FileMaker 8.5 and above includes support for specifically Chinese indexing, along with the ability to import files in GB and Big Five encodings.