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Use Caps Lock to switch to Japanese System
I was looking at the big, easy to reach, caps lock key on my Macbook that even has a nice light to let you know when it's active, and it was sad it was completely going to waste. Also I use Japanese fairly often and since Spotlight hijacked the default hotkey for switching languages anyway, I found a great way to use the caps lock for Japanese. If the light's on, you're in Japanese, light's off, English (or vice versa if you want). I'm not sure if it works with other languages because you need settings specifically in Kotoeri (the Japanese input system). Here's my setup but you can change it to get a little different behavior if you want.

In the "Input Menu" tab in the International Preferences, make sure Kotoeri is on, and turn on Hiragana and Romaji. Also, be sure to turn off the English input method so your computer will always be in "Japanese," but don't worry, switching to romaji is no different from English mode (I tried sending emails with only English characters and they still went out with 7-bit encoding, so I'm pretty sure the system doesn't see the English characters any different). At the bottom pick "Use one input source in all documents." If you don't do that, whenever you switch windows, you might be switching input methods and the input method will get out of sync with your caps lock status (which is fine if you don't mind the light being out of sync and you like that behavior better). For now leave the icon on the menu bar, but you can take it away later if you want; one nice thing about the light on caps lock is you can take away the icon and you still know what mode you're in.

Now click on the Kotoeri icon in your menu bar and go to kotoeri preferences. Under the first tab, you'll see "caps lock キー". I hope the Japanese comes through in this post, but if not it's the second drop down menu on the first tab. The first option, "入力モードの切り替えをしない" says for the cap locks key to do nothing. Change it to the second option, "押した時「ひらがな入力」" which tells it to switch to hiragana when you press caps lock.

That's it, now you're computer should be in romaji (English) by default, but if you press caps, it will switch to hiragana (without actually capitalizing even single English characters). However, you can sometimes confuse the system if you press caps lock when it can't switch modes for some reason; it's happened to me a few times. The way to fix this is to just press caps lock until the light is off and then switch back to romaji, either by pressing shift-ctrl-; or by the input icon on the menu bar.
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Use Caps Lock to switch to Japanese
Authored by: umijin on Feb 13, '07 08:01:38AM

My Logitech s350Mac keyboard doesn't have a CapsLock light, and I wouldn't find the Romaji setting satisfactory in the interim, unless I mainly used Japanese.

The problem with the OX10.4.9 and the Kotoeri system is that the default key command for switching from English input to Hiragana (Command + Spacebar) is mapped to open Spotlight. Absolutely bizarre of Apple to take a long-standing keyboard combo and use it for something else.

So, I would suggest remapping spotlight to (Control + Spacebar) so that you can keep the (Command + Spacebar) combo for kotoeri. And I find this combo much easier to reach for than Caps Lock (and less likely to accidently turn on).

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Use Caps Lock to switch to Japanese
Authored by: nutts on Feb 13, '07 11:48:50AM

Thanks, nice idea! Just set this up on my MBP.
I'd previously changed the defaults for toggling language (between British and Hiragana only) to include the SHIFT key, but this is easier; I've just got to get used to it now.

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Use Caps Lock to switch to Japanese
Authored by: toupsz on Feb 13, '07 03:24:17PM

Fantastic hint...glad to have a reason to use the capslock again!

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Or, instead of using Caps Lock
Authored by: boredzo on Feb 13, '07 07:34:24PM

You can use the Keyboard and Mouse prefs to turn off the Spotlight key combo.

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Use Caps Lock to switch to Japanese
Authored by: quaresti on Feb 13, '07 09:52:12PM

I've been using this for a while now. One big difference for programmers is that the \ key shows up as ¥ when you're typing in romaji. I haven't yet found an easy solution for that. What I do is switch to hiragana mode, type in \, hit enter to stop the conversion, and then go back to romaji with another capslock.

Gets annoying when typing long strings of \n\t\whateverescapecharacter, though, so I usually have to switch to another input method when working on a program.

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Use Caps Lock to switch to Japanese
Authored by: Aikinai on Feb 17, '07 11:05:11AM

I'm not sure how you're getting ¥ in romaji. I've tried everything and I can't find a single difference between my romaji mode and regular US English; I still have to use option-y to get ¥. You could try looking in the Kotoeri preferences though. In the second tab (入力文字), you can pick things like \ or ¥, but in mine that only affects hiragana mode.

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