Turn off Japanese Live Conversion in OS X El Capitan

japanese live conversionI haven’t seen anyone talk about this Japanese live conversion feature, so I thought I’d bring it up. When normally inputting Japanese on a computer, it’s usual to first type in romaji which gets converted into hiragana. From there, the person pushes the space bar and can convert the text into katakana, kanji, or other characters. This has been the case for a long time now.

I enjoy using a Mac, but the recent feature in OS X El Capitan for users of Japanese input drove me crazy. It’s called Japanese live conversion, and it automatically converts your romaji typing into the correct kanji based on context. In theory, this sounds really great and convenient, but I often found myself having to fight the system. There are times when I need to write something only in hiragana or katakana, but the Japanese live conversation feature thinks I want to write like a Japanese novelist and converts everything into kanji. It didn’t take long before I was hunting down a way to turn this thing off.

For the record: My native Japanese speaker friends were annoyed by this feature as well.


This is hard to explain without actually seeing in action, so I tried to make some animated gifs that might better illustrate my point.

Typing with Japanese live conversion OFF

japanese live conversion OFF

Notice how the normal way of inputting Japanese, I have to stop and hit the spacebar after each word to choose the right characters.

Typing with Japanese live conversion ON

japanese live conversion ON

With the feature turned on, I can type what I want to say without stopping and the Japanese live conversion feature will guess what I want to write based on context.

How to turn off Japanese Live Conversion

This feature is enabled by default on all installation of OS X El Capitan. If you buy a new Mac, it’ll be enabled too. Finding the place to turn this off is a bit tricky, so I decided to write down the steps and where to find the option.

For those Mac users out there that are annoyed with this feature, here is how you can disable it:

Update: It was brought to my attention that there is an easier way to turn off this feature.


easy japanese live conversion easy japanese live conversion 2

You’re done!

The long way

Step 1: Go to your system preferences>keyboard

japanese live conversion guide 1

Step 2: Click the “Input Sources” tab

japanese live conversion guide 2

Step 3: Click the Japanese section

japanese live conversion guide 3

Step 4: Go to “Input Sources” and scroll down

japanese live conversion guide 4

Step 5: Uncheck “Live Conversion”

japanese live conversion guide 5

Ok, recap.

System Preferences>Keyboard>Input Sources> Choose Japanese, SCROLL DOWN, look for “Live Conversion” check box and UNCHECK it.

Yeah, it’s a little tricky to find.

After you uncheck that button, inputting Japanese will return to pre-El Capitan methods and YOU can choose whether you want to convert your text to kanji or not.

Has anyone found the Japanese live conversion feature actually useful? I’m curious to hear about others’ experiences.

2 thoughts on “Turn off Japanese Live Conversion in OS X El Capitan”

  1. It just drove me so crazy so I turned it off.

    BTW You can also find the menu entry in the “Input menu” menu bar icon (if enabled).

    • Thanks for the tip! I realized it after the fact and was so annoyed that I didn’t see it earlier.
      I wonder if Apple will make changes to this system in the next OS update because the way it is now I can’t see many people using it.


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