Saturday, October 29, 2011

The iPhone Keyboard Dictionary, Predictive Text / Spelling Auto-Correct

Predictive text on the iPhone comes from a user dictionary or database that learns new words as you type. When typing from some applications on your iPhone, when you reject a spelling correction the word that you originally typed is added to the dictionary on your iPhone. There are also ways to manually include new words in the iPhone User Dictionary as well.

Manually add words to the iPhone Dictionary

1. Typing Words in Applications

I have found that there are a few apps that can be used to update the user dictionary to include new words. I’m sure that there are more, but I have been successful in updating the dictionary so far with the following applications:
  • Messages (typing text messages) - by rejecting an auto-correct suggestion
  • Safari (entering a word into the Google Search Field) - By searching for the new word
  • Contacts - Including the new word in one of the fields available when creating a contact. As this requires creating a contact, I was reusing the same contact for updating the dictionary instead of adding a new one for each word to keep things tidy, but abandoned the method in favor of the manual solutions described below.

2. Manually Customise the Dictionary

Prior to iOS 5 (I haven’t got the following working since upgrading to iOS5), you could add a second International keyboard for another language to your iPhone, which enabled a new option on the Keyboard settings page to “Edit User Dictionary...”. I found the post Add words to your iPhone's dictionary that demonstrates this process.

After installing iOS 5 a new “Shortcuts” option is available, also on the Keyboard settings page. The Shortcuts feature allows you to enter a phrase, and associate with a shortcut. Adding a new word as a Phrase without a shortcut also includes the new word in your iPhone dictionary so that it is no longer auto-corrected.

Disable Auto-Correction

To disable auto-correct on your iPhone all-together, turn off the option on the Keyboard settings page:

Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> tap Auto-Correction to turn it off.

If disabling auto-correct, you may also want to disable the “Check Spelling” option as well o the same page.

Clear / Reset the iPhone Dictionary

To remove all custom words that have been added to your iPhone Dictionary when typing, you can use the Reset Keyboard Dictionary option:

Using the “Reset” settings / options for your iPhone:
  1. Open the “General” Settings page
  2. Select the “Reset” option
  3. On the Reset page, tap the “Reset Keyboard Dictionary” option.