Spell Catcher X and Mountain Lion: Can’t switch languages

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 2nd, 2012 • 12:33 pm

Last week, I wrote about the untimely death of Evan Gross, developer of Spell Catcher X (SCX), back in June 2012. Beyond the personal tragedy for his family and friends, this loss has left long-time users of Spell Catcher in limbo.

With the release of Mountain Lion (ML), the issue has become more urgent. It is hard to imagine that people currently using SCX under Lion will not want to upgrade to ML sooner rather than later. It is therefore important to identify the consequences of such an upgrade for SCX users.

I haven’t yet upgraded to Mountain Lion on my machine, because I need it for work that is more important than an operating system upgrade. But after discussing the matter with Paul Ingraham, who has upgraded to ML, I installed ML and SCX on a separate volume for testing purposes. And the news, I am afraid, is not very good.

While the basics of SCX appear to be working fine, there is one fundamental issue that will affect any SCX user who uses the software in more than one language. That issue is that the menu items in the “Set Language” submenu in the SCX menu do not work. Selecting a menu item in that submenu has no effect. It does not switch the language to the selection. And if you have shortcuts assigned to some of the menu items in that submenu, they do not work either.

It is not completely impossible to switch languages in SCX. But it requires a rather kludgy workaround.

You first need to close the document window in which you want to switch languages, then switch to SCX’s Preferences dialog, and go to the “Language” preference pane:


There, you need to make sure the target application is select in the Applications drawer, and then you need to change the default spelling language to the language you wish to select.

After that, if you switch back to your application and reopen the window of the document in which you wanted to change language, SCX will automatically (by default) switch to the language you just selected.

All the interactive features (shorthand expansions, smart quotes, etc.) associated with that language in that application will then work as expected. But obviously it is not exactly a convenient solution.

Since the problem with the “Set Language” submenu looks like it’s only skin-deep, and since SCX is scriptable, I was hoping that I would be able to find an AppleScript command for switching languages and by-pass the submenu. But I was unable to find anything in SCX’s AppleScript dictionary for this. Instead, I found this old discussion thread on SCX’s forum:

Applescript – Set language

Based on Evan’s contributions to that thread, there isn’t a scriptable way to set the language in SCX. The other contributor to the discussion came up with a GUI-scripting-based solution, although I couldn’t make it work on my system. But obviously, even if it worked, it wouldn’t help, since GUI scripting essentially mimics what you do with your mouse and keyboard, without using the application’s scriptability. So whatever does not work with the mouse and keyboard won’t work with GUI scripting either.

So that’s where we are at. SCX is not completely toast in ML, but one of its essential features does not work properly and requires a very kludgy workaround. Given the high uncertainty regarding the future of SCX, it’s hard to imagine that Lion users will stick with SCX if they need or want to upgrade to ML.

Personally, I will still wait awhile before upgrading to ML on my machine, especially in light of the presence of new bugs such as this one in the new OS. In the meantime, I will continue to try and gather information about what could happen to SCX and I will continue to explore possible alternatives. (More on this later.)

But if you are a SCX user and are planning on upgrading to ML soon, you need to be aware of this serious flaw.

One Response to “Spell Catcher X and Mountain Lion: Can’t switch languages”

  1. Betalogue » Upgrade to Mountain Lion: Very smooth says:

    […] for what I ended up doing about my beloved Spell Catcher X, which is not fully compatible with Mountain Lion, I will have to leave this for another blog […]