Submitted by Tikaf Viper on 10 August, 2023 06:54

Beginner Intermediate Advanced Reading Writing Chinese-in-context Tools-and-Apps Simplified-Characters Traditional-Characters Characters SRS

Liked by Tikaf Viper and LB

FREE multi-platform app and desktop software. I use it for looking up words, checking characters etymology, stroke order, collocations. The mobile app also has other functions. For me, this is "Pleco on desktop" although they do have some differences. I'm pasting the app's description below:

SmartHanzi is a free yet professional grade tool for students and anyone wishing to read real Chinese texts (web, PDF) even with a limited level in Chinese.

Parse and lookup

SmartHanzi provides immediate access to unknown words.

Although it is not a learning tool, it shows links to related words (also in, contained) and character details: stroke order, character series (Kangxi, etymology). With this perspective beyond immediate usage, one gets naturally familiar with words and characters.

Besides recognizing the correspondence between simplified and traditional variants, SmartHanzi also recognizes multiple traditional variants. For instance, searching 真 (or finding 真 in a text) will show both 真 and 眞, according to what is present in selected dictionaries. Or it will recognize equally well 為 / 爲 or 眾 / 衆.


Some versions include tests based on HSK levels as a way to check one’s progress. Progress is shown on 12 months. Tests are short and errors reviewed first. One can choose longer tests, or to review unsure words or check supposedly known words.


Etymology is not only for scholars or experts. Along centuries, Chinese writing has developed a number of reference points, reasonable or simply traditional, well known by most Chinese. Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

Trying to “learn” Chinese writing without leveraging this invaluable assistance would be an unreasonable challenge. Etymological indications and character series emphasize these reference points.


As a free application, SmartHanzi offers a smaller choice than major commercial applications, but remains globally best in class for the intended usage.

A first demo (PoC = Proof of Concept) of “Dictionnaire Couvreur” (Chinese-French, classical Chinese) is for those more interested in Chinese culture, since modern language still largely employ elements of ancient Chinese.

User Interface

SmartHanzi is available for PC, Mac and mobile:

26 January, 2024 10:07

insanely helpful. not sure why this isn't more well known. thank so much.

It has become by go-to for desktop usage. Any other tools you find most helpful (I see your second only to Olle in the listening challenge so I suspect your well versed!)?

I'm a beginner, maybe breaching lower intermediate depending on the skill (speaking, then much worse is the rest- listening, reading, writing). I'm currently using Anki on desktop and mobile with a variety of decent decks (although not using any yet with sentences). Considering Pleco (flashcards, and/or paying to add user-dictionaries; specifically character breakdown ones seem most helpful as Olle has suggested).

Still overwhelmed/confused by the rules behind creating a mnemonic framework outside just looking at the component breakdowns in SmartHanzi for characters I've not picking up quickly in Anki, but likely this is not really harvesting long-term retention...(?). Any insight appreciated from anyone! Cheers!

27 January, 2024 10:14

I'm intermediate myself, and yes, don't know why this resource is not used or talked about more. I bought Outliers dictionary in Pleco a few months back but still use SmartHanzi in the end. Overwhelmed? Start with massive listening / reading.

30 January, 2024 09:35

thanks for the advice. taken! SmartHanzi uses a dictionary that says the components of (maybe all?) characters give meaning (one semantic and one phono semantic). Whereas Olle says one is semantic and one is (solely?) phonetic? Are they just different ways of interpreting?

01 February, 2024 10:51

okay, also very curious to hear what Olle thinks about this approach, but can't tag him. I don't see any articles on this specific dictionary/approach to character breakdown, although I've seen some of what he thinks about etymology and character learning.