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Install a handwriting pad in Windows XP

This is the old version. The completely revised and expanded version in 4 parts can be found here. I've kept this if you find the new version too long but you'll be missing out a lot!

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Installing the handwriting pad



Some versions of Windows XP have handwriting recognition support for use with your mouse and mouse pad or an external pen stylus and handwriting or graphic pad but it is usually not installed by default. The localised versions of Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) Windows XP have full support built in some of their corresponding language input method editors (IMEs) but the international English versions (both home and professional editions) normally require Office XP (or Word 2002) English edition or later.

To use the CJK languages (read and input) in English Windows XP you need first of all to install files for East Asian languages during setup. If not you can do so later in Control Panel, Date, Time, Language and Regional Options, Regional and Language Options, Languages, Supplemental language support, tick Install files for East Asian languages (fig. 1). You cannot choose individual languages to install.

install files for East Asian languages

Fig. 1


After installation handwriting recognition will work readily in Office applications, and if you enable Extended support of advanced text services to all programs this also works in WordPad and Notepad.

To enable Extended support of advanced text services to all programs, go to Control Panel, Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options, Regional and Language Options, Languages, Details, Text Services and Input Languages, Advanced (fig. 2).

Extended support of advanced text services to all programs

Fig. 2


Installing the handwriting pad

Windows XP English version and English language handwriting pad

If you use English Windows XP and have Office XP it would be straight forward to install it from the Office XP CD (see KB 278927 below). The handwriting support would be found in both the UK and US IMEs.

After you install the files from Office XP, go to Control Panel, Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options, Regional and Language Options, Languages (or [Windows key] + R, control intl.cpl,,1), Details, Text Services and Input Languages, Settings, Installed services, Add, Handwriting Recognition under English (United Kingdom) or English (US) keyboard IME (fig. 3).

Add Handwriting recognition to IME

Fig. 3


Once installed the Handwriting item will appear on your language bar and you can configure it to display Writing Pad by ticking this item in the drop-down menu (Fig. 4).

Display Handwriting pad in the language bar

Fig. 4


Windows XP Chinese, Japanese and Korean versions

If you use any CJK versions of Windows XP you simply install the corresponding IMEs (no need for Office XP CJK versions): for Chinese Traditional version you can install the Microsoft New ChangJie (CJ) or Phonetic IME in the usual manner. For Japanese version you install the Japanese MS IME 2002.


Windows XP English version and other language IME handwriting pad

Since the English version of Windows XP already supports the CJK languages, it is possible for English versions of Windows XP to add handwriting support for these languages without Office XP. If you install Office XP English version it adds handwriting support to the English IMEs only.

To add the Traditional Chinese IME pad you install the Traditional Chinese version of the Microsoft New ChangJie and Phonetic IME (download here). Install the IMEs under CH Chinese (Taiwan). Install all the items including the IME and the Microsoft IME tool if necessary. Note that although the Drawing Pad item is shown in the Installed services box the handwriting pad is also installed (fig. 5). Likewise you can install the Japanese handwriting pad if you install the MS IME2002 after installing the Chinese IMEs but not without it.

Add Handwriting recognition under Chinese (Taiwan) IME

Fig. 5


To use the Chinese handwriting pad in a document, change the language to Chinese (Taiwan) in the language bar, choose Microsoft New Phonetic IME (or Chinese (Traditional) - New ChangJie IME which has writing pad installed) and click the IME pad in the Tools menu (fig. 6). The pad is context sensitive in that it will appear only when you have a supporting programme running.

Display handwriting pad in Chinese IME language bar

Fig. 6


The Chinese IME pad offers a list of possible matching characters often before you finish writing the character. In this example the New CJ IME pad is active in WordPad (fig.  7).

Chinese IME pad

Fig. 7


Installing additional IMEs and handwriting recognition requires additional memory so you may notice slower start up and system performance if you don't have sufficient memory.


Office XP and older versions of Windows

Handwriting recognition is supported in English and CJK versions of Office XP (En KB 278927, ChT KB 278927). This would be useful if you use Office XP in Windows 98, ME, NT or 2000.



Third party programmes

If you buy third party handwriting pads or graphics tablets you may have specific drivers or software to install.


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KB 293402

KB 306906


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Last updated 7 Feb 2004