PowerPoint 2008: Now compatible with Spell Catcher X, except in tables

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
February 11th, 2008 • 3:42 pm

Amid heaps of bugs, flaws and performance problems, there is one little piece of good news about PowerPoint 2008 as far as I am concerned: It now finally works with Spell Catcher X—sort of.

Prior to this version, PowerPoint was simply incompatible with Spell Catcher X. It was one of the very few Mac OS X applications that would simply completely refuse to work reliably with this excellent writing tool, and there was nothing that Spell Catcher X‘s developer could do about it.

All we could hope for was that, one day, Microsoft would finally use standard Mac OS X text editing features in PowerPoint, which would indirectly make it possible for Spell Catcher to work its magic.

Has this day finally come? Not quite. But there has been progress.

As indicated in a previous post, if you try to use Spell Catcher X’s automatic features (smart punctuation, glossary expansions, etc.) in PowerPoint 2008 with the “Make replacements directly” option on, the application will not only fail to support the features, but it will actually crash.

On the other hand, if you turn this option off in Spell Catcher’s preferences for PowerPoint, then you will find that Spell Catcher’s automatic features actually now work in standard PowerPoint text boxes—which they did not before this version.

There is still one major area of PowerPoint 2008 where things won’t work as expected, however, and that is table cells. If you try to use Spell Catcher’s glossary feature in tables in PowerPoint 2008 slides, then instead of a single shorthand expansion you will get the shorthand expansion in duplicate, which makes the feature unusable.

But outside tables, it works as expected. And even inside tables, Spell Catcher’s smart punctuation features appear to be working. (They even seem to work, unbelievably, with Postscript fonts, which is not the case in Word 2008! Although if I were a regular PowerPoint user, I would probably still refrain from using Postscript fonts altogether…)

The fact that things still don’t work properly in tables leads me to think that Microsoft actually never meant to make PowerPoint 2008 compatible with Spell Catcher (they couldn’t care less, I suspect). It is just that they made changes to the text editing features in standard PowerPoint text boxes that, incidentally, make it somewhat compatible with Spell Catcher. But these changes do not extend to table cells, unfortunately.

(UPDATE: Apparently Spell Catcher’s automatic glossary expansions do work properly in some tables and not others. I am still trying to determine what makes a table incompatible with the feature. If I try in a brand new table inserted using the toolbar button for tables, I get duplicate expansions. But I have some existing tables—created by others—in which the expansions work properly.)

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