Word 2004 Tip: Use Organizer to delete multiple AutoText entries at once

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 8th, 2004 • 6:10 am

For most automatic text entry purposes, I use Spell Catcher X rather that Word’s own AutoText and AutoCorrect features. But I still have to use Word’s features for AutoText entries that contain text with formatting (such as superscript, small caps, etc.).

I sometimes find myself having to delete a bunch of AutoText entries. Like most other Word dialog box, the “Insert>AutoText…” dialog box is very poorly designed. Even though it’s under the “Insert” menu, it actually has uses that have nothing to do with actually inserting text in your document. If you want to delete an AutoText entry, you still have to go to the “Insert” menu (while AutoCorrect entries are accessed under the “Tools” menu). I suppose that, in some parallel Redmond-based world, this actually makes sense. But anyway…

If you want to delete more than one AutoText entry, however, you’ll quickly discover that it is impossible to do that conveniently in this “AutoText” dialog box. In the list of AutoText entries that appears in that dialog box, you can only select one item at a time — presumably because you can only (and would only want to, according to Microsoft) insert one AutoText entry at a time (which, once again, illustrates the problem with putting everything under the “Insert” heading). If you have several entries to delete, this can quickly become very tedious.

Fortunately, you can do it another way. Instead of using the “AutoText” dialog box, you can use the “Organizer” dialog box. But first you need to make this other dialog box accessible. For that, you need to customize Word (“Tools>Customize…“) and add the “Organizer” command to your Word interface. (I have it in my “File” menu.)

After that, when you invoke the “Organizer” dialog box, you can go to the “AutoText” pane and select a whole bunch of entries in the list and delete them all at once. Phew!

Unfortunately, the same thing does not apply to AutoCorrect entries, which are not part of the “Organizer” interface, because, in its infinite wisdom, Microsoft has made them a separate type of customization that can only be accessed through the “AutoCorrect” dialog box itself — where, of course, this being a Microsoft product, you can only delete entries one at a time.

And if you want to move AutoCorrect entries around, you need to know that they are not stored in a template, but in a separate file. There is one AutoCorrect file for each “language family”, i.e. one for English, called “MS Office ACL [English]”, one for French, called “MS Office ACL [French]”, etc. These files are located in ~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/.

That AutoCorrect entries might precisely be used by English or French users to correct spelling variations from one flavour of English to another (“flavour” in UK English and “flavor” in US English, for example) does not seem to have crossed Microsoft’s mind.

Also, don’t ask me why there are also files called “Microsoft Office ACL [English]” and “Microsoft Office ACL [French]” (as opposed to “MS Office” in the other ones) in that same location. I have absolutely no idea.

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