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Curing Input Menu Problems

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The information and advice in this article does not apply to Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Most of the Leopard bugs related to discovering/installing/updating input methods have been fixed in Snow Leopard. Please read our Mac OS X 10.6-related FAQs if you are using Spell Catcher X on Snow Leopard.

Spell Catcher X 10.3 tries its best to make its input method component available for use shortly after it is installed or updated. Unfortunately, Spell Catcher faces rather significant challenges here—usually it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t. The problems to overcome, and the methods Spell Catcher uses, are entirely different for Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). However, the symptoms indicating failure and the method used to solve the problem are the same for both versions of Mac OS X. The problems we face are described at the end of this article, in case you’re interested. A restart alone rarely fixes the issues we’ve seen. That’s what makes this problem so nasty.

The Best Solution

We’ll get right to it, but you should probably read the rest of this article to determine that the problem we’re describing is the one you need to solve.

This has worked for everyone that has tried it

Navigate to your (home) ~/Library/Components folder in the Finder, drag the Spell Catcher.component out to the Desktop, then drag it back into the Components folder. Restart right away. This seems to get the system to “notice” the component, and do all that needs to be done the next time the system starts up.

The following has worked for some

Sometimes simply toggling an input source on and off (any input source) is all that is needed to get things working properly.

As a last resort, you can try trashing the preference file that contains your input menu configuration, restarting and then configuring it manually from scratch. To do this, navigate to your home ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost folder, trash all the files named like “com.apple.HIToolbox.#####.plist”. Restart immediately. Empty the Trash once you’re logged in again. Open System Preferences, International, Input Menu tab, and configure things manually.

Typical Symptoms

Note that the following are just a few examples of what I've seen. The basic rule is this: if you see anything odd regarding the way your Input menu appears or behaves, you should probably perform the above "Best Solution". In general, you'll only have to do it once, and only after upgrading or installing a new input method component.

Odd looking symbol as the Input menu's title in the menu bar:

Another similar example:

Odd looking symbol in the Input Menu tab of International System Preferences:

Everything appears normal, except Spell Catcher is disabled in the Input menu, generally in old applications that do not have built-in support for input methods:

“I can write a <whatever>script to do this automatically”

Sure, simple. But it won’t work. Believe me, I tried. Maybe not everything that’s possible, but certainly everything I could think of. AppleScript, shell script, coding it into the Spell Catcher application itself. Something different goes on behind-the-scenes when you do the move manually in the Finder vs. scripting it. If I eventually find a way to automate this for everyone, I’ll surely make it known and available.

Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger)

There simply aren’t any APIs (supported, available to developers) to help with the installation of input method components. We rely on ad-hoc techniques to try to convince Mac OS X that an method component has been installed or updated, and to do all that is necessary to make it available to the user. These techniques worked quite well prior to Spell Catcher X 10.3—before Spell Catcher’s input method had input modes. Seems that installing/updating input methods with modes on Tiger is more problematic.

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)

There are brand-new APIs on Leopard specifically to give developers full control over the input menu and input sources. This includes registering new input methods and sources so they can be used immediately after installation. Spell Catcher X 10.3 uses these new-in-Leopard capabilities extensively. Unfortunately, there are some rather nasty bugs in Leopard, and input method component registration simply doesn’t work properly.

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