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    F7: The Magic Katakana Key

    By thomas | January 28, 2008

    This is a quick tip for the Japanese keyboard. When typing in katakana words, sometimes the computer tries to give you kanji after you hit the space bar. Look what happens when I try to type in “Lisa Simpson”

    Lisa Simpson Hiragana

    While it may be true that getting married may make you lose all your money, it’s not exactly what we had in mind.

    Oh no! I didn’t want all those kanji. What I really wanted was katakana. There’s an easy way to get katakana: press F7 instead of space bar:

    Lisa Simpson Hiragana

    Lisa Simpson Katakana!  Yes!

    Mission Accomplished. F7, you see, is the katakana hotkey. Just type in the characters you want katakanized, hit F7 and you are ready to go. Much faster than using a series of shift-rightarrows. And your Japanese input system should remember it for next time.

    If you make a mistake and want to get back to hiragana, then use F6.

    Other similar, but less useful, hotkeys are F8 for half-size katakana and F9/F10 for unsatisfactory romanization.

    Do you have any Japanese keyboard tips? Let me know in the comments.

    Like this post? Give me the Thumbs Up!

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    Topics: Japanese Computer | 26 Comments »Trackback

    26 Responses to “F7: The Magic Katakana Key”

    1. ShaneS Says:
      January 28th, 2008 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks for the tips but I have a newbie question? If I want to write in Japanese what program do you recommend? Do you need a special keyboard?

      I’m off to Japan in a month and an trying to relearn my katakana and hiragana before arriving and some writing/typing practice would come in handy..


    2. Tegan Says:
      January 28th, 2008 at 11:37 pm

      If you are using a PC and word you just need to install the Japanese IME Download the proper one for you version of office. Then switch using the language bar.
      If you are using a mac with tiger you need to instal the IME or lepord its already built in, just go into international settings and add the keyboard well its a quick download.

    3. Galenor Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 12:22 am

      Hey Shane!
      I had a little trouble getting Japanese letters too, but i found a way. If you have Windows:
      Go to your control panel, then
      – If you’re using ‘Category view’ Click ‘Date, Time, Language and Regional Options’, then ‘Add other languages’

      – If you’re in Classic View, click ‘Regional and Language Options’, then the Languages tab at the top.

      Click ‘Details’ then ‘Add’ beside the list. Select Japanese from the first list and click OK. Now click the Language Bar button and click ‘Show Language bar on Desktop’ AND ‘Show additional language bar icons’.
      A small blue bar should pop on your screen, with a box saying EN. Click it, and select JP. Now click the ‘A’ symbol and select your style. To type letters in hiragana and katakana, type the word in Romanji on the keyboard. For example, for し, type shi on the keyboard and it appears. Press enter to ‘validate’ the letter, or press space to select different ways of saying shi.
      Have fun, and good luck in your practice!

    4. Justin Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 5:05 am

      I never knew this! Pretty damn cool.

    5. Alec Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 5:31 am

      Thanks for the tip!

    6. Jonathan (of the Japan Journal) Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 7:33 am

      ShaneS, if you’re using Windows, there’s no special software (or keyboard) needed. Just check out the Regional and Language Options panel in the Control Panel and enable support for eastern languages to get started. Check out the Internet for more about how to use the Windows IME. (If you’re not using Windows, I recommend an Internet search as well.)

    7. Jon Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 8:25 am

      Hmm, I just always hit enter before I hit spacebar. To keep it from turning into kanji, I mean. But F7 works too huh? Interesting! Thanks!

    8. McBain Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

      Oh man, I’ve been trying to figure out a hot key to switch to katakana forever. Thanks!

    9. ジェイソン (Jason) Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 2:55 pm

      I just plain avoid writing in Japanese on my computers. If I wanted to exercise my patience that much, I’d wait in line at the konbini behind some woman paying for her 412 Yen lunch with 1 and 5 Yen coins :???:

      That said, I’ll have to learn it eventually. But right now, I prefer writing my hirigana, katakana and kanji on paper. No unnecessary keystrokes required :P

    10. Tori Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 3:49 pm

      Cool tip. I didn’t know that.

      Also, if you are ever on a computer that does not have Japanese typing and you cannot install a download (ex: you are on a trip in another country and you are using a internet cafe computer), you can use this online (ajax-based) IME.
      There may be others like this one or better but I haven’t found any. If you know of one, let me know!

    11. ShaneS Says:
      January 29th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks for the tips! I’ will go and try it out…

    12. Ken Y-N Says:
      January 30th, 2008 at 12:00 am

      I posted this over in JapanSoc, so here goes again:

      I thought everyone knew that! It’s my favourite key on the Japanese keyboard.

      Now if only someone could tell me why whenever I press the kanji button on my home PC I always go into Romaji mode so then have to use the カタカナ/うらがな/ローマ字 key to get it to work properly.

      And a bonus tip – go into the IME config dialog – right click the toolbar, choose Settings/設定, Properties/プロパティ, Dictionary/辞書・学習 and from the list box click on 郵便番号辞書. Now if you type in your post code (with a hyphen, and don’t use the numeric keypad) and hit space, it will convert to the address. You can also turn on the 顔文字 dictionary for more fun. \(◎o◎)/!

    13. Yak Says:
      January 30th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

      Really great tip ! Thanks !

      Even with that, does anyone know if there is a shortcut to switch between romaji/hiragana/katakana on Windows IME ?

      It’s really easier on Mac OS X by the way ;-)

    14. Mike Says:
      February 8th, 2008 at 4:55 am

      I’ve always found Japanese keyboards hard to use as the apostrophes and question marks are in different places! But thanks for the tips!

    15. Maris Says:
      February 29th, 2008 at 7:49 am

      Great tips! I’ve been wanting to get a Japanese Macbook (or just a japanese laptop) for so long but seeing as I’m not in Japan, my searches have been to no avail.

    16. Brian Says:
      March 24th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

      Word. You just saved me like 3 seconds for every katakana word I write!

    17. John Says:
      April 22nd, 2008 at 3:14 am

      You can switch between input languages under windows by pushing alt+shift. This will put you in Japanese mode but you’ll still be in the Direct Input mode of the Japanese IME. From here you can switch into hiragana mode by pushing alt+caps lock or katakana mode by pushing ctrl+caps lock. This way, you can switch languages (clumsily) under windows without using the mouse at all.

    18. Japanese IME Kanji Selection Hotkeys | Says:
      May 20th, 2008 at 9:19 am

      […] more Japanese IME shortcuts, check my earlier article about the Magic Katakana Hotkey Like this post? Give me the Thumbs Up! Share: Stumble This | Zoom This | JapanSoc This Topics: […]

    19. Rich Says:
      May 21st, 2008 at 7:04 am

      Thank you so much!!!
      It was killing me how it would always default back to direct input in Japanese mode.

    20. Amadan Says:
      May 23rd, 2008 at 12:26 pm

      @John: You can switch between direct input and Japanese with Alt-Tilde (Alt+~). While typing in Japanese, use Enter to leave as hiragana, Space to convert to kanji and F7 to convert to katakana, as described in this article.

    21. マーク Says:
      June 2nd, 2008 at 5:29 pm

      Hey I was wondering if you knew the shortcut for half-width katakana?

      Also I’ve started encountering a problem where my IME is set to full with alphanumeric instead of half-width.
      Before I’ve been using Shift+Caps to switch between hiragana and half-width alpha, but somehow I keep hitting something that changes the half-width alpha to full width and I can’t change it back.

      I know I can hit Alt+~ to go to half-width alpha, but it’s much more convenient to use the shift+caps toggle to switch to it.

      Lastly why don’t the microsoft IME help files tell me any of these shortcuts? And if they do where is the help file or webpage that does?

    22. Typing Your Japanese Address: The Easy Way | Says:
      August 27th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

      […] Magic Katakana Hotkey […]

    23. Amwidkle Says:
      May 16th, 2009 at 9:29 am

      Umm… I can only get it to write in Katakana. Is this a Vista thing? Any tips to get to hiragana or kanji?

    24. Japanese words Says:
      August 2nd, 2009 at 1:29 am

      Great write up. Like everything it gets easier with pratice. I still remember how much I struggled when I first started to type in Japanese. Something they didn’t teach in Japanese class!

    25. Seth Says:
      January 25th, 2010 at 9:40 am

      Another great tip for Mac users.
      To get small size vowels (ぁぃぅぇぉ、ァィゥェォ) hit ‘x’ before the letter you want to type.

    26. Green44 Says:
      March 30th, 2010 at 10:13 pm

      How do I switch between kana and romaji fast with a mac?