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  2-27-04 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


Hoo Needz a Spellling Checquer??
Spell Catcher X from Rainmaker Research


By Bob LeVitus

I’m addicted to Spell Catcher X from Rainmaker Research. Spell Catcher X, as you might guess, is first and foremost a spelling checker, but it’s much more than that. I hear you asking, “(insert your favorite program’s name here) has a spelling checker built-in; why would I want to buy another one?”

I can think of a bunch of good reasons:

Spell Catcher X works in every program. Unlike the built-in spelling checker in any program, Spell Catcher X is there for me in all my programs, not just my word processor or page layout program. So Spell Catcher X is available regardless of what I’m doing: E-mail, iChatting, designing Web pages, programming, or laying out pages. Better still, it is available regardless of which program I happen to choose for the task.

This has two huge advantages for me. The first is the user dictionary dance I don’t have to do anymore, where I add an unusually-spelled word—like “iPhoto” or “LeVitus”—to the user dictionary in Microsoft Word, then add it InDesign’s user dictionary, and add it again and again for every program I use. With Spell Catcher I add the word one time and know it’ll be spelled correctly every time I type it, in every program I use.

Then there’s the “single set of keyboard shortcuts to memorize” advantage. The same keyboard shortcuts work in every program, so for me, Command-Control-S checks the spelling of selected text in any program I use, and Command-Control-L looks up the selection in Spell Catcher’s included Webster’s Concise Electronic Dictionary and Proximity/Merriam-Webster U.S. English Thesaurus.

I just love having concise definitions, synonyms, related words, and alternative spellings a keystroke away, no matter what program I happen to be using. And every one of Spell Catcher’s default keyboard shortcuts can be customized, which, aside from being a thoughtful feature, insures that its keyboard shortcuts never conflict with those of another program.

Another excellent reason to pay for Spell Catcher: Unlike other spell checkers, it actually corrects your mistakes “on the fly.” So if I type “taht” instead of “that,” which I often do, Spell Catcher fixes it instantly, without interrupting my typing. That alone is worth the price of admission.

But my favorite feature of them all is the way Spell Catcher uses a Glossary to store short abbreviations that expand automatically into complete words, sentences, or paragraphs when you type them. So, when I type the letters “vty,” if I press the spacebar after the “y,” those three letters are immediately replaced with:

Very truly yours,

Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus

Writer & Raconteur

I have dozens of glossary items and use this feature at least 1.3 million times per day. I’d be putting a lot more wear and tear on my poor hands without it.

As long as I’m raving about the glossary feature, you should know that Riccardo Ettore’s most-excellent TypeIt4Me is a program that does glossary expansion at least as well as Spell Catcher and perhaps better. TypeIt4Me can also type special characters that Spell Catcher can’t (such as the left, right, up, and down arrow keys, or the backspace key) and costs less as well. It’s a great program but one without spell checking and thesaurus.

There are free trial versions of both programs so you can check them out without cost or obligation. I bet you’ll be as hooked as I am before your trial copy expires.

TypeIt4Me. Riccardo Ettore
$27. Free 30-day trial

Spell Catcher X
Rainmaker Research $39.95. Free 15-day trial

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2003 Bob LeVitus

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