Fixing “Improved” Japanese input in Mac OSX

This is just a quick tip that you may find useful.

Recent versions of Apple’s  OSX have changed the way the Mac handles Japanese input by default. It is supposed to be an improvement, because it guesses what you want to type and changes your input to kanji on the fly rather than waiting for you to push the spacebar at the end.

The problem with this is that I find that it guesses wrong as often as not and it actually takes longer to undo its frequent well-meant guesses than to do it the old-fashioned way, which gives you a list of guesses as you type (so you still don’t have to type the whole word in many cases) rather than jumping to one of its own conclusions.

It also messes up some other functions. For example, Rikaisama’s native-audio saving only started working properly again after I reverted to the older input style.

So if like me you find this live-changing more trouble than it is worth, what can you do about it? Fortunately the fix is easy. Go to System Settings > Keyboard > Input Source (入力ソース) and you will see this:

If your Mac is in Japanese, the setting you want is ライブ変換 (live conversion, ringed above). It will be in the same place in English. It is checked by default. Uncheck it and your Mac will go back to behaving like a useful tool rather than a mama-knows-best robot!

PS – Seeing the above screenshot, someone noted that I have Japanese as my only input language. The reason for this is not that I never type in English, but that I use the romaji character set from the Japanese IME rather than an English IME. And the reason for that is that I can then assign it to caps-lock within the Japanese IME, so that when I want to switch to typing English I only have to hit the caps-lock key.

If English is your default language you may want to do it the other way around, but I can confirm, should you want to try it, that not using a “real” English IME has no adverse effects that I have noticed on English input.