All about custom dictionary files for the Spelling Checker

If you are already using WhizFolders, there is a help topic on custom dictionaries that you can find with Search in Help. That gives a brief description of this feature. I am writing this article to explain it a bit more.

When you check spelling in WhizFolders and get a spelling error, this screen appears:

Spelling Error Dialog

When some word like your first name is not in dictionary, the error appears for it. In this case, you press Ignore All so that the spelling checker ignores it for the rest of the session. But it is better to use the Add button for such cases so that the word becomes a part of the dictionary and is always considered correctly spelt (always ignored) for all future sessions. Similarly, instead of pressing “change” every time, you can use the Auto Correct feature to replace often mistyped words automatically. You might wonder where these words are actually added. To see that, click on the Options button on the above screen.

Spelling Options

Look at the bottom of the Options dialog. In this case, the Custom Dictionary file addict.adu is used to add the words or replacements when you click the Add or Auto Replace buttons in the error dialog. Once the words are in that file, the next spelling check operation will ignore or auto replace those words.

Can you have more than one such dictionary? Yes, you can. But the Add or Auto Replace can add new words to only one custom dictionary that you select in the Custom Dictionary pull down above. In the above picture, it is addict.adu.

Let’s click on the Dictionaries button and see what other custom dictionaries are present.

Custom Dictionaries

As you can see several of them are present. Addict.adu and Autocorrect.adu are installed when you install WhizFolders. But you can make more of them as you can see in this picture. All the dictionaries with check marks against them will be consulted to ignore or auto replace words. When you click on the Edit button, you can actually edit the lists in the selected dictionary. Let’s try that for Addict.adu.

Editing a custom dictionary

You can easily recognize the lists Added Words and Auto-Correct pairs.

There is another feature in the custom dictionary, called Excluded Words. Excluded words are always considered incorrect during a spelling-check operation. For example, in the Australian Dictionary both “organise” and “organize” are acceptable words. However, you want to make sure that “organize” was always marked as misspelt so that you could change it to “organise.” Then, you would add “organize” as an excluded word.

In which file system folder are all the custom dictionaries (.ADU files) kept? If you are using Windows XP, you will find them under a subfolder “dicts” in the Program Files folder where WhizFolders is installed. If you are using Windows Vista then WhizFolders puts them in the application data folder under your user name in Windows. For example, on my Windows Vista system, they are kept in the “V:\Users\Sanjay Kanade\AppData\Roaming\AvniTech\WhizFolders” folder. Why? Because Windows Vista does not allow writing to the files in the program files folder and custom dictionaries are meant to be written to. Can you see the effort that we programmers need to take to make sure that things work OK on different Windows systems?

Microsoft Word ignore lists: Sometimes, you may see a CUSTOM.DIC file listed in the Custom Dictionaries. This file can not be edited but it can be consulted. It is the file that Microsoft Word uses to keep the ignore word lists. If this is not listed on your system, it might be because it is a unicode file. WhizFolders spelling checker is not unicode yet. In this case, you can select the non-unicode words from that file and add them to one of the custom dictionaries by using the Edit button above. But adding one word at a time is painful. Soon, I am going to release a utility spellutils.exe so that you can make a text file containing those words and import the text file in a custom dictionary.

You must backup your custom dictionaries: If spelling checker is important to you, you must backup your custom dictionary files from the above locations. If you are using some backup tool to back up your Document and Program files, the custom dictionaries are probably included in that. But it is good to make sure that they are included.

I have also released a utility called SpellUtils that allows to import and export text files containing words to be ignored, auto corrected or excluded in the spelling check operation. Please see SpellUtils, Custom Dictionary Utility.