Preferences Dialogue Box

There are a number of features of Penfriend XL which you can change to suit your preferences. These include the appearance of the program in use and the way it behaves internally with its lexicons and other aspects of its operation.

The option Learn New Words decides whether words which are typed in full, having not been recognised, are added to the lexicon or ignored. If they are added, they will be shown in red in the lexicon window until you approve them using the menu on the right hand mouse button in the control window. Penfriend XL will not learn words less than 3 letters long, nor any words containing characters other than letters and apostrophe (') or hyphen (-). If you wish to teach Penfriend XL many words, you may want to import a text file or learn from the clipboard of another application.

Please read the section on learning new words to ensure that you understand how important new words are to Penfriend XL. For a discussion of the applicability of all of the options of Penfriend XL to people with particular needs, you may wish to read about personal settings.

Smart Punctuation makes Penfriend XL move punctuation marks around a little. If you type a word followed by a single space followed by any of the appropriate punctuation marks . , ? ! ; : ' ] ) } then Penfriend XL will delete the punctuation mark and space and retype them in the opposite order. It will also switch on the latched Shift key in the on-screen keyboard if the punctuation mark was one that ends a sentence.

The option Predict Next Word makes Penfriend XL predict whole words that you have not typed any letters of. The predictions are made on the basis of grammar and recency. The feature speeds up typing but has the disadvantage of leading some writers astray, for example encouraging them to press F1 all the time!

The option Predict new words can be switched off for people who type a lot of spelling mistakes but are writing about an unusual topic. Penfriend XL will gather the words that they write into its lexicon as 'new' words, but will not suggest them until they have been accepted from the 'new' set to the 'old' part of the lexicon.

The option Unrepeated Predictions, like 'Predict Next Word', is a power-feature for confident writers who want the fastest predictions and know what they want. It makes words appear only once in predicting any particular word even if they match the letters typed. For example, if you type 't' you will be presented with words like 'the', 'this', 'they' etc. If you now type 'h', most of the same words would normally remain. With Unrepeated Predictions, all the words shown the first time will not be repeated, so a new list of words will appear.

Unrepeated Predictions has no effect on the predictions after you have finished a word. It is dangerous because some users might not notice words the first time they appear and will be disappointed when, after perhaps three letters, the word has still not appeared. It is good for people who can be sure of spotting the word they want the first time it appears. See the section on personalising Penfriend XL for more details.

The option Follow Caret defines whether the Prediction Window will move along just to the right of the text caret as you type. This can make it easier to see the predictions without moving your eyes as far, but it will obscure part of your document. If selected, you cannot change the relative position between the caret and the window. This feature is not compatible with some word processors because of the way they indicate their caret position.

Normally you select words from the prediction window by pressing the Function Key indicated to the left of the word. If you wish, you may choose to select words using the Number Keys. If so, you must use the numbers above the letters on a normal QWERTY keyboard to select words. If you wish to type actual digits into a document, please use the numbers on the numeric keypad to the right of the main keyboard. While predictions are visible, you cannot type the relevant keys (function keys or numbers) into your word processor. You can also select using numbers on the numeric keypad

If you have chosen to select words using the number keys, only the numbers above the letters can be used and not the numeric keypad to the right of the main keyboard. The numbers above the letters are intercepted as described above and that interception can be briefly cancelled by pressing Escape. However, to type digits no extra keys need be pressed; simply type your numbers on the numeric keypad.

If you choose the numeric keypad, the opposite applies; select words by pressing number keys on the keypad on the right of your keyboard, and insert actual digits by pressing the keys above the letters.

If you are using the on-screen keyboard, it is probably best to choose 'Function Keys' but to actually select the words by clicking on them directly with the mouse in the prediction window. You can then enter numbers using the digits on the on-screen keyboard.

Please read the section about personalising the options for advice on which options to set according to your abilities.

You may wish to hear a Speech Synthesiser speak each letter as you type it, and each word as you finish it. This requires a sound card to be connected properly to the computer, and a SAPI4 or SAPI5 speech engine to be available in software. There are a number of options for the speech system which can be adjusted in the Speech Options dialogue box.

You can also choose your own font size and colour.

If you are an experienced computer user and you require finer control of Penfriend XL, you may wish to view and change the Advanced Preferences dialogue box. Some further ordinary preferences are available there.

See Also:
- Advanced Preferences,
- Speech Preferences,
- Personalising the Options.