These archival pages cover Chinese on the Mac OS from System 7 (1991) to OS X 10.11 (2015). For coverage of more recent macOS and iOS systems, go to [NEW SITE].

"WorldScript" is Apple's trademark for the technology that supported multiple languages on Macintosh computers before OS X. In WorldScript, each language has a "script" that supports the character-set and encoding standards for that language. For Chinese, there are two distinct scripts: one for Traditional Chinese, based on Big Five, and one for Simplified Chinese, based on GB 2312. A "WorldScript-savvy" application was able to correctly input, display, store, and print text in these standard encodings.

The Unicode standard is a multilingual encoding that absorbed the character sets of Big Five and GB 2312, along with those of other Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) encodings. As of version 10.0 (2017), Unicode contains 87,882 CJK Unified Ideographs. A fully "Unicode-savvy" application has the ability to correctly input, display, store, and print Unicode text in all planes.

Today, most applications support Unicode. Unless you have an older Mac, it's unlikely you'll need to know anything about WorldScript. There was a time when it was useful to know something about character sets, encodings, font formats, and the like, especially for Apple Computer users working in Chinese at the height of Microsoft's dominance in the 1990s. The frustration and confusion at that time was the main impetus for the establishment of this web site, with answers to frequently-asked questions (FAQ). Thanks to Unicode, that era is behind us.

Chinese is a relatively simple script (as opposed to complex Indic and Arabic scripts), so basic Unicode support is often enough, but there are still a few sticking points. For example, your software may not support code points beyond Unicode's Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP). This is the sort of problem that isn't a problem, until it is.

Ongoing problems for which a FAQ could still be useful

Unicode places a special burden on typography when it comes to handling localized CJK characters, glyphs, and variants. For most users, it is enough to know whether a Chinese font covers Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, or both. More advanced users will still need an understanding of Chinese character sets, along with the typography (and politics) of glyph variants, vertical text, and so on, in order to handle CJK texts and fonts in a professional manner.

More Information


The essential text is the second edition of CJKV Information Processing by Ken Lunde (O'Reilly, 2008). Lunde has a Ph.D. in linguistics and is manager of CJKV type development at Adobe. The comprehensive understanding it provides is unmatched. Nothing else comes close, online or otherwise. See:


CCJK Type is an Adobe blog based at their Beijing office, with a range of helpful and interesting information. Ken Lunde's regular posts at CCJK Type function as a sort of informal supplement to his book:

Multilingual Mac provides current information and troubleshooting help:

Pinyin Joe maintains the Chinese Computing Help Desk, a well-organized and informative guide to using Chinese on Windows XP and above:

About Us

This site was founded in 1998 by Eric Rasmussen and Kerim Friedman. It was hosted at Yale University from 2001 to 2016. Chinese Mac moved to its present location in 2017.

Many people have helped out over the years, including Aki Abe, Iwo Amelung, Steven Angle, Charles Belov, Michael Brasser, Kai-shao Chen, Nien-po Chen, Cynthia Col, Jason Cox, Christopher Cullen, Douglas Davidson, John Delacour, Dale Dellinger, Rard Denissen, Tom Gewecke, Rickford Grant, Fritz Grohmann, Bob Hall, Zev Handel, Jeffrey Hayden, Matthew Hills, Timothy Huang, Nobumi Iyanaga, Nina Jalladeau, Fuxue Jin, Charles Lee, Eugene Lee, Henry Leperlier, Magnus Lewan, Joe Lewis, Lukhnos D. Liu, Nello Lucchesi, Xinjiang Lü, Andrew Main, Patrick Moran, Tee Peng, Jens Østergaard Petersen, Greg Pringle, Sven Rossbach, Jacques Rougeaux, Erik Sahlin, Leo Shin, Jonathan Skaff, Robert Smitheram, Leo So, Edward Spodick, Glenn Tiffert, Kelvin Tsang, Ken Tsang, Hsu-min Tseng, Shiangtai Tuan, Etienne de la Vaissière, Sue Wiles, Joe Wicentowski, Amnon Yaish, Weizhong Yang, Dominic Yu, Weiyun Yu, Eddie Yuen, Peide Zha, and Allen Zhao.