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Completion: Finishing Your Typing For You

By now you've discovered how Spell Catcher can help with what you've already written. But Spell Catcher can do more for you than this-it can help finish what you're typing as it's being typed. Enter the Complete command-word, phrase, shorthands, names, e-mail addresses, and more-found and typed for you. All you need to type is the first few letters of what you're after, and let Spell Catcher find what matches and type the rest.

Setting Up Completion

Begin by taking a look at Spell Catcher's Completion Preferences. This is where you tell Spell Catcher what you want it to find matches for when you choose the Complete command in the Input menu. Choose Preferences... from the Spell Catcher menu (or Input menu, or Dock menu), click the Interactive icon, then select the Completion tab.

Here is where you specify what items should appear in the list of completions, and in what order they should appear. As with most of Spell Catcher's preferences, you can have different settings for each of the applications you use. This is especially handy when it comes to completion. You may only want to show completions for e-mail addresses in your Internet apps, but show matching shorthands and words in your word processor.

To include a particular completion item, check its box in the On? column (click the disclosure triangle to see all the possibilities for a particular item if necessary). Drag items in the list to change the order that they appear.

To automatically show a particular completion item, check its box in the Auto? column.

Completion Preferences

The Completion Items

The items in the completion list are described here.

Shorthand Glossary expansions

Matching Words

Matching Address Book Cards

Chances are good that the e-mail application you use will automatically complete e-mail addresses for you after typing the first few letters of someone's name. Wouldn't it be nice to have this feature available in any application you use? No problem, at least if you use Spell Catcher's address book completion and the Mac OS X Address Book application to store your contacts.

Spell Catcher looks for matches from your Address Book by finding "person" cards where the first name, last name or nickname begin with what you've typed, "company" cards where the Company begins with what you've typed, or any card with an e-mail address beginning with what you've typed.

Note that the E-mail Addresses, Phone Numbers, and Addresses items have a Preferred Only? box you can check. If you check this box, then only the "preferred" e-mail, phone number or address is shown as a possible completion (for example, if a card has home, work and mobile phone numbers, only the preferred one appears). What defines "Preferred"? Good question, as it appears in vCards, but there is no obvious way to set the preferred value in the Address Book application. The closest thing we can find is the Edit Distribution List... command in the Edit menu, but this sets Group-specific preferred e-mail, phone and addresses-not necessarily for the card itself.

Thesaurus Look Up

Using the Complete Command and Completions Pop-Up List

How you choose to use the completion features depends a lot on what you're working on (a word processing document, composing an e-mail, filling in a form on a web page, instant messaging) and what you want to appear as possible completions.

Manually Showing Completions

You can ask Spell Catcher for completions at any point while you are typing a word by choosing the Complete command from the Input menu.

If completions are available, they will be displayed in a pop-up list (similar to the Pop-Up Suggestions List). If the completion you want is in the list, choose it by typing the number to its left, or by selecting it with the arrow keys and pressing return, enter or space, or by double-clicking it. While you continue to type the word, the completion list remains open and items that no longer match are removed (it's also possible for new matches to appear). The list gets smaller, making it easier to find what you're after. Close the completions pop-up list at any time by pressing the escape key, the right or left arrow keys, or clicking in the document window.

Pop-up Completions list

If a completion is too long to display in its entirety, or spans multiple lines (long expansions and addresses, for example), they will be displayed in a truncated manner. To view the entire completion, as it would be inserted into your document, hover the mouse over it to view a help tag. Note: Mac OS X will do its own word-wrapping for long help tags, and it does it differently on OS X 10.2 and 10.3. Be aware that it's the help tag being word-wrapped, not the expansion itself.

Help tag showing the full completion

Automatically Showing Completions

Automatically showing long lists of possible completions after typing only a few letters of every word can be somewhat distracting. Limiting what's displayed automatically is usually a good thing. You can choose which completions are displayed automatically by checking their "Auto?" box.

More help and information for Completion is available by clicking the Help button Mac OS X Help (?) button in the Completion tab of Interactive Preferences.

Compatibility Note: Complete from the Input menu only works in those applications that properly support input methods. If you don't see the list of completions appear, see it appear in an "unusual" location on your screen, or see the floating "bottomline input window" appear, then the application you're using does not support input methods at all (or has buggy support). In these cases, you may not be able to use Spell Catcher's Completion features. You may want to politely ask to the application's developers that they implement support for input methods and the Text Services Manager (TSM). This support has been recommended for all applications that accept text input since the early 1990's.

For Developers: Handling the kEventTextInputOffsetToPos CarbonEvent (or even the kOffset2Pos AppleEvent) is all that's really required. If you don't support inline input (or even if you do and there is no active input area), make sure you return the screen position of the insertion point anyway (or at the very least when the offset parameter is zero).

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