Windows – Changing “Input Mode” on Windows 7 Japanese IME via keyboard shortcut (hiragana, katakana, alphanumeric; half/full width)

imejapanesekeyboard shortcutslanguagewindows 7

I frequently type Japanese (and a few other languages) using an English keyboard using stock Windows 7 Starter with its standard Japanese Input Method Editor (IME).

Japanese keyboards have two or three special keys to switch "Input Mode", which western keyboards lack.

The functionality of at least some of these keys is available through combinations of modifier keys when using the English keyboard:

    toggles between alphanumberic and hiragana input
  • Right ALT + CAPS LOCK
    switches to katakana input
  • Right CTRL + CAPS LOCK
    switches to hiragana input

But recently I've found my keyboard can get stuck in "Full-width alphanumeric" (Like this).

I can change modes using the above hotkeys, but I can't change back to "Half-width alphanumeric. The normal hotkey to change to alphanumeric always changes to Full-width, no matter whether caps lock is engaged or not.

I can switch using the mouse and GUI but this interrupts my touch typing speed and causes unwanted distractions.

This could be the result of a bug, but if there is a hot-key combination I'm unaware of for switching to Half-width it would well be worth knowing.


I definitely have not changed my preferences or settings for the Japanese IME hotkeys. I swear they were the default settings but have become changed without my intervention, possibly during the last Windows Update.

Besides the key combinations I mentioned earlier, I have discovered that I can toggle between hiragana and alphanumeric input now with this combination and no other I can find, including the old combination I used to use:

  • ALT + `

I'll start adjusting to this and if I find no problems other than just being different I'll post it as an answer.

Best Answer

This totally happened to me, too!

And this reply is really late, but I kind of found fixed my problem today.

I started toggling my language settings in language preferences in the control panel, then selection options for the Japanese language. I chose options from the input methods, and then advanced settings for Microsoft IME. In the autocorrect tab, there is a scroll space where you can specify whether to use half or full-width based on the character kind, and under alphabet, I switched it to always use half-width. Now when I use shift+caps lock, it's always half width. I don't know if there was a hot-key combination that switched that setting.

Hope that was somewhat helpful!