Speelchecking in Shiira

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Shiira’s spellchecking ability is somewhat difficult to find - there doesn’t appear to be any spelling entries in any of the applications’ menus and standard key combos merely produce a unsatisfactory system beep. But, it is there, we just need to dig a little deeper…

The secret to activating it is ‘hidden’ in the applications contextual menu. Control-clicking [ or Right-clicking ] any text field embedded in a web page will display the menu, providing access to the ‘Spelling’ sub menu. Choosing ‘Check Spelling as you Type’ will highlight misspelt words as you type in the same way as you would expect from any Cocoa application, allowing you to then control-click and correct these words from a list of suggestions as you go.

Please feel free to correct me

Having a list of suggestions available can certainly help streamline the production of error free communication, but can be frustrating for instances where words are continually spelt incorrectly. You may find yourself constantly returning to the contextual menu to repeatedly correct words whose letters are simply out of order. In cases like this, you know exactly what you meant - the computer should too. Some applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign CS 2 provide ‘Auto Correction’ features which can dynamically correct misspelt words by comparing them against a predefined list. Sadly, this kind functionally is not included in Tiger’s standard Cocoa Spelling [ NSSpellChecker ] class - nor is it available system-wide.

Help is available in the form of Textpander, a free application from the developer of Butler, provides the ability to add auto correction to virtually every application running on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. Implemented as a System preference pane, it quietly sits in the background and ‘listens’ to what you type. Whenever a misspelt word [ from a predefined list ] is entered, Textpander automatically springs into action, substituting what was typed for the correct word. The downside to this is that Textpander doesn’t actually come with a list of predefined words - you are required to add them yourself. This can be a fairly lengthly [ and tedious ] task, so I have decided to compile a downloadable list1 of snippets based on both Word and InDesign’s auto correct keywords as well as a number of custom entries [ having Textpander auto correct ‘teh’ for me should bump my words-per-minute up to something like 5, maybe 6 if i use it twice in one sentence ].
Although, Textpander will allow you to import the list directly, I would recommend ’subscribing’ to it as an external snippets file - keeping this file separate will allow for future updates without disrupting any custom snippets you may have created.

Insert clever heading

Textpander, as the name suggests, can also be used to expand user-defined abbreviations to insert standard phrases [ such as greetings or signatures in email correspondence for example ], correct instances of over captialisation [ ‘HEllo’ ] or insert the current time or date into passages of type. It also supports formatted type and pictures providing even greater flexibility. I can now type ‘aattach’ instead of ‘Attached is a high resolution .pdf file of the requested artwork for your perusal. Please feel free to contact me should you require any further information.’ every time I send a proof to a client and have it formatted as per the rest of the email - and this is only really scratching the surface of what Textpander can do for you.

1. As this list contains ‘abbreviations’ that may be partial ‘abbreviations’ of similar entries, it will be necessary to select ‘a delimiter character has been typed after an abbreviation (abandon delimiter)’ from the ‘Expand automatically when’ popup menu in Textpanders’ preference menu.

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