Spell Catcher X: Powerful Mac Spelling Correction

So you think you can spel? While we all know how to spell and write correctly, typing errors, lack of concentration, or maybe even a issue such as dyslexia might prevent us from spelling every single word the right way. Then we have to deal with those red squiggly lines beneath words which quickly become frustrating.

That’s where Spell Catcher comes in to try and make your typing life easier. It’s designed to greatly improve the in-built spell checking capabilities of OS X, though may go a little too far with the range of preferences on offer!

Getting Started

During the installation routine of Spell Catcher, you will be asked to chose an input method. As you can see in the screenshot below, there’s an extensive explanation as to which benefits come with each method. Once you’ve made your choice, you will need to input your license (just follow the instructions) or use the app in trial mode.

Being a helper application, Spell Catcher’s window is made up of many different tabs that allow for an enormous number of settings to be tweaked to your liking.

Main Window

Main Window

In all honesty, the sheer number of possibilities seems intimidating at first. In addition to the upper menu bar, you can also have sub-tabs in several categories. While Spell Catcher works OK “out of the box”, it will be useful to set aside a couple of minutes and go through all options – if only to understand better how the application works.

Menu Options

Menu Options

Setting up Languages

By default, Spell Catcher assumes that the language you’re running in OS X will be your main language. In my case that is US English. You will find languages in the References tab. Then again, I often use German, my native language, when I write letters, articles or forum posts.

Of course, Spell Catcher can support German and many other languages as well. You only need to download the appropriate reference file from their website and import it into the application.

References

References

Going From Fun to Productive

When you start using Spell Catcher for the first time (and have left most of the default settings intact) you will be surprised when it actually starts checking. Spell Catcher will talk to you. While it might be amusing at first, after a while the voice announcing “Spelling!”, “Repeated Word!” or “Capitalization!” might become quite annoying. Not to mention the fun your coworkers or fellow students will have with the constant noise.

Of course, you can turn audible alerts off in the Alerts pane completely, but I found it useful to at least keep some subtle clicking/popping noises that make me aware that an auto correction has happened. While Spell Catcher is very smart, it doesn’t always know what I am intending to write and might mistakenly correct something.

Alerts

Alerts

All speech alerts need to be turned off individually which is a little inconvenient, but at least then you’re able to accept corrections and type in silence.

Interactive Spelling Correction

Now that Spell Catcher has gone from an amusing tool to a productive application, it is time to tweak the way your spelling mistakes are corrected. By default, whenever you make a mistake Spell Catcher cannot easily interpret (things like “teh” instead of “the” will be changed automatically), a window will pop up with suggestions.

Spelling Popup

Spelling Popup

By either using shortcuts or your mouse, you can choose the correct spelling or even look a word up right away. The downside of the default settings is that the window vanishes more or less immediately after you type the next word after the misspelled one. Also, I am personally not very fond of popup windows. The settings in the application allow for changes to make the use of Spell Catcher more comfortable.

Settings

Settings

Since I am a fast typer, I prefer to have the drop down with the spelling suggestions open for at least three words after the spelling mistake. You will need to find out what works best for you, and how long you need until you can interrupt your typing rhythm.

Dropdown Suggestions

Dropdown Suggestions

Shortcuts, Lookup and Suggestions

Without being able to cover each and every option that Spell Catcher offers in this single review, there are three more things I’d like to mention. The first are the keyboard shortcuts.

Shortcuts

Shortcuts

The whole point of Spell Catcher is to improve spelling accuracy and thereby help you get your writing done faster. The extensive keyboard shortcuts can help to further speed up the process. A large number of shortcuts are predefined and can be changed to your liking.

The second helpful feature worth mentioning is the Lookup feature. If you are unsure of how to spell a word – or what a word actually means – you can use Spell Catcher to look the word up for you.

Word Lookup

Word Lookup

The last feature is also one of the most useful ones. If you have ever used an application like Typinator or TextExpander, you will know how much time you can save by writing something like “ys” and get “Yours sincerely”.

These applications let you define short letter or symbol combinations and replace those with any text you have chosen as a replacement for that letter/symbol combination. Spell Catcher can do this for you as well!

Auto Suggestions

Auto Suggestions

Conclusion

Spell Catcher is a very powerful application that can – once set up correctly – greatly improve your spelling and writing speed. It does take some time to figure out, though, but the extensive help which is included makes picking the correct preferences a little easier.

While Spell Catcher is also suited for word replacement (as described in the last paragraph), it will probably only appeal to users who are not already running apps like TextExpander or Typinator, since those are far better at this specific task.

I like the idea of SpellCatcher, but feel that it needs considerably more polish and simplification before it becomes a really useful addition to the default system in OS X.


Summary

SpellCatcher aims to improve the functionality and feature-set of the default OS X spell checker. If anything, it may go a little too far, overloading the user with a few too many options and preferences!

6
  • Josh

    Looks alright…

    And please say the spelling and grammar errors in the first sentence were deliberate.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Of course they are :-)

  • Syphadius

    You should do a review on Antidote for mac Spell checker (french)
    http://www.druide.com/antidote.html

    very good spell checker

  • Gray Stockton

    This could be very useful. I hope they have a trial. Is it too late to send in our mac setups?

  • http://islandinthenet.com Khürt Williams

    After reading this review I still have one question: What does this do that OS X does not do? All I see is a needlessly complicated application for doing what OS X already does.

    • Joe

      I second that opinion.

      • http://simplyblog.net Miguel

        Yeah, I third that. Plus I agree with your concluding thought, needs to be polished up, too many things to configure.

    • Tom

      The spelling features are nice, but the real utility is in the shorthand glossary. I can type a few letters and it will expand it into an email signature, an HTML snippet or whatever you can think of.

  • http://www.ikreateit.com Julia Altermann

    Well, without having looked at the Mac OS preferences lately, I think the main advantage (if you can call it that way), would be the dropdown options if the system is unsure what exactly you were typing and that you can have that list visible for a certain amount of time (defined by you).

    I agree that Spell Catcher seems very complicated, but I have found that it works – for me – better than the inbuild Mac OS stuff. But then I never dabbled with the latter much.

    One annoying thing: when Spell Catcher is correcting words automatically in Mailplane (desktop Gmail client), Mailplane hangs and has to be force quit. I just discovered that two days ago and it’s annoying me a lot.

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