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Ghostwriter: Safety When You Haven't Saved

It's happened to everybody, including you: a system crash, Mac freeze, or marauding four-year-old interrupts your writing session before you've had a chance to save your work. Even if you're a religious saver, reflexively pressing Command-S after typing each paragraph, that's still one precious paragraph of carefully reworked prose that's gone forever.

Or how about this: you were on the phone with somebody who started rattling off an important phone number. There was no time to launch your address book program, so you typed the number into whatever you were working on-maybe even the margins of your page layout program-intending to transfer it to a more logical place when you got the time. And now that it's a week later, you can't find that number anywhere. You simply don't remember where you typed it. It's lost somewhere in the digital canyon of your hard drive.

Or maybe you're desperate to visit some Web site that you remember seeing a couple of weeks ago-but you just can't remember the address.

In all of these cases, the Spell Catcher feature called Ghostwriter could have saved you. As you type, wherever you type, Ghostwriter silently keeps an up-to-date set of text files deep in your System Folder. You don't have to save, you don't have to do anything special-you don't even have to remember that Ghostwriter is turned on. When the worst comes to pass, however, you can open these text files to find every single word you typed in every single program on every single day-safe.

Of course, Ghostwriter preserves only the text-no bold, italic, font choices, mouse clicks, and so on. It also preserves the text in the order you type it-if you jump around while editing a document, inserting a phrase here and there, the Ghostwriter file won't contain the finished document-it'll contain only the inserted phrases, in the order you typed them.

Still, Ghostwriter has saved many an author many an hour of soul-searching and hard drive-searching in the quest to retrieve text that would otherwise have been lost.

Ghostwriter in Spell Catcher X saves what you've typed at certain well-defined times to try to ensure as best it can that what gets saved in a Ghostwriter file matches what's in your document (complete with any interactive corrections and Shorthand Glossary expansions). This means that it should be easier to reconstruct document contents than it was in Spell Catcher 8, as (in general, if possible) keystrokes are only written after interactive corrections or expansions have been made. This means that any backspaces posted by Spell Catcher to make corrections and expansions are "accounted for" in the Ghostwriter file, and don't appear as "unreadable" characters.

Turning On Ghostwriter

Ghostwriter doesn't save your keystrokes until you explicitly turn it on. As well, Spell Catcher's input method must be active (you see the "checkmark" in the menu bar) for Ghostwriter to work.

Ghostwriter Preferences

Important: Turning Ghostwriter on presents a potential security risk. Please read the note in Ghostwriter preferences regarding this issue.

We recommend only turning Ghostwriter on in those applications you really need it to be (there's not much need for Ghostwriter to be on in, say, the Finder or the Preview application, where it's unlikely you'd need to reconstruct what you've typed). However, if you so desire, you can check the "Ghostwriter On" box when viewing Universal preferences to have it on (by default) in every application.

If you want to follow our recommended advice, it's best to simply check the "Ghostwriter" menu item in the Input menu (something you generally only need to do once) when in an application you want it to save your keystrokes (like a word processor or e-mail application).

As with the Interactive Checking and Auto-Show Suggestions commands in the Input menu, the state of the Ghostwriter command is remembered on a per-application basis.

See the next section for information about recovering text from Ghostwriter's saved files, and how to customize Ghostwriter's behavior.

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