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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 6, 2012
A very well designed new feature in Lion is the character accents menu that pops up when you extend the keypress on vowel input:


those that don't need to use access accents can revert back to the classic key repeat function by typing the following command in terminal:

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

to toggle function use:

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool true

I'm wondering if there is a way to edit the accent menu to show the accents that are used for a specific language ie. to only show the four tones used used to input words from chinese/mandarin:

ā á ǎ à
1 2 3 4

Let's Sekuhara!

macrumors 6502
Jun 30, 2008
拼音 Input Made Simple(er) on OS X 10.7+

So here's how to customize OS X's Press-and-Hold menu to be optimized for Pinyin accented Chinese characters.


First, using Finder, Go > Go to Folder... (Shift+Cmd+G)
and navigate to:
/System/Library/Input Methods/

Now you can open your .plist file with an app such as TextWrangler (available on the Mac App Store) or Property List Editor.
(Yes, at this point it would be a good idea to make a backup of your existing .plist file somewhere in case you ever decide to revert to it)

But wait... it gets easier! → To save you a bunch of time, I have already tailored the .plist file to be specialized for the four Pinyin tones.
And you can download it here:
Keyboard-en.plist for Pinyin
(Right Click and Save Link As...)

For the geeks out there who really want to know, here's a summary of the changes made to the .plist file:
Each of the four Mandarin Chinese vowel sounds have had their accent order arranged to be
1.ā 2.á 3.ǎ 4.à (subsequent accents now follow after the main four, but are still included in the menu)
for U there are two more 5.ǚ 6.ǜ ...and these can be triggered by typing either U or V keys.
It is set to work for both lower and upper case.

For optimal efficiency it is recommended that you also minimize the Press-and-Hold delay by going to System Preferences > Keyboard > Delay Until Repeat and moving the slider all the way to Short.

Questions? Comments? PM me.
Last edited:
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macrumors 68020
Nov 20, 2009
Was gonna do this keyboard layout myself but found this! Saved so much time and it works perfect!


macrumors newbie
Jun 25, 2015
File doesn't seem to be available for download any longer. So, I created one:

I left in the extra accent characters but flat / rising/ falling rising/ falling are 1 2 3 4 respectively.


macrumors newbie
Jun 25, 2015
uploaded it here with .txt extension. Rename it to .plist and follow the instructions by Let's Sekuhara!.


  • Keyboard-en.txt
    6.2 KB · Views: 501
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