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Think IPM

Monday, April 21, 2014

Office and IE custom dictionaries -- New IPM utility: SyncMyDICs

Great new utility by Jacques Bensimon:

Juvenile name aside, this one is actually quite useful: (Grab it here)

As you know, as of Office 2007, your custom dictionary entries are stored as a plain Unicode text file, by default %AppData%\Microsoft\UProof\CUSTOM.DIC.  Any time you use “Add to Dictionary” on a word, the dictionary file is updated and re-sorted using the strange AaBbCcDd… collating sequence, which means all the capital “A” words come before the lower-case “a” words, then the “B” words, then “b”, etc. – but the Office apps don’t really care and are just as happy with a normally sorted file (as long as it’s a proper Unicode text file starting with the 0xFF 0xFE signature and containing one word per line).

What you may or may not know is that, as of Windows 8 / 2012 (and in Windows 7 / 2008 R2 with IE 10 or 11 as well), a new *Windows* API for spellchecking has been introduced for use by any app that wants to take advantage of it (as IE 10 and 11 do – you didn’t think that was your WebApp correcting your spelling, did you? :)).  And of course, since there’s still no love lost between the Office and Windows teams, the two spell-check engines are completely distinct and separate (though I’m sure that, if asked, Microsoft would explain that not everybody has Office installed ;)).  One consequence of this is that your custom dictionary for Windows/IE is separate from your Microsoft Office custom dictionary, although happily its format is essentially the same (Unicode text file, one word per line, no sorting imposed at all).  Your default Windows/IE custom dictionary, since you’re all good Yankees (right?), is %AppData%\Microsoft\Spelling\en-us\default.dic.

Which of course is where the new utility comes in:  after backing up the originals, it will merge any two such custom dictionary files (sorting and removing duplicates in the process) and will replace the originals with the merged copy.  As you can read in the screenshot, it will accept full paths to the two files you want to merge & replace but, for simplicity, will assume you mean the two previously mentioned (Office and IE) custom dictionaries if you don’t specify any files.  Run it at logon, or logoff, or whenever and however you like, and you’ll only need to add words once to have them available on both platforms.  (Of course, given how it works, the utility also can be used to combine Office custom dictionaries from your profiles on two different machines, or from two different user accounts, etc.).


And of course you know what word just made it to both my dictionaries, right?  You guessed it, SyncMyDICs! =]


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