Shorthand for WindowsTM
Frequently Asked Questions

Moving Shorthand to another PC
  • How to move Shorthand Version 8
  • How to move Shorthand Version 9
  • How to move Shorthand Version 10
  • How do I make backup copies of my word lists?

    Troubleshooting

  • If Shorthand is not working correctly, click here for answers and workarounds to common problems.
  • Terminology

  • Explains what we mean by a keyword, text to type and dictionary.
  • Specifications

  • What's the maximum number of dictionary entries and the maximum number of characters that can be associated with a keyword?
  • General Questions

  • What is Shorthand? How does Shorthand work?
  • What's the difference between Shorthand and my word processor's macros?
  • Does Shorthand work with older Windows 3.1 word processors?
  • Does Shorthand work with DOS programs?
  • Can Shorthand really work with almost all Windows GUI applications?
  • What applications are incompatible with  Shorthand?
  • Managing Your Shorthand Dictionaries

  • How do I make backup copies of my word lists?
  • How can I convert another file format into the Shorthand file format?
  • How do I copy my dictionary to a floppy disk?

  • How do I move an entire word list or dictionary to another PC?
  • How do I print the contents of a dictionary?
  • Is there a way to conveniently add text to my dictionary?
  • How do I copy or transfer a dictionary entry from one dictionary to another dictionary?
  • How do I append the contents of an entire dictionary into another dictionary?
  • Running Shorthand

  • Is it possible to run Shorthand automatically whenever I start Windows?
  • Shorthand doesn't work correctly with some of my applications!
  • After Shorthand inserts the text, the text caret is positioned at the wrong place in the word processor!
  • How do I change the date/time formats used by the LONGDATE,
  • SHORTDATE, LONGTIME and SHORTTIME tags?
  • How do I get rid of the message that asks for confirmation whenever Shorthand exits?
  • Using Shorthand Efficiently

  • How do I simulate "-year-old"?
  • How to create numbered pick lists in WordHow do I apply special fonts such as bold or italics?
  • How do I embed dates (e.g. today's date or yesterday's data) in Shorthand?
  • How does Shorthand's AutoReplace function work?
  • How do I tell Shorthand to automatically insert the closing parenthesis whenever I type the opening parenthesis?
  • How can I define prefixes and suffixes?
  • Do I have to memorize keywords to use Shorthand effectively?
  • Shorthand doesn't seem to recognize keywords with embedded punctuation marks such as "don;t".
  • Using Shorthand with Microsoft Word

  • Can I use Shorthand together with Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect Wizard?
  • Why do some spaces disappear in MS Word?
  • What's the difference between Shorthand and Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect wizard?
  • How can I transfer my MS Word AutoCorrect entries into Shorthand?

  • Terminology

    What's a keyword?  Shorthand uses the term keyword to refer to a word that you define to represent a longer word or text.  Other programs may use the terms "short form," "short cut," "macro name" or "abbreviation" to refer to what Shorthand calls a "keyword."

    What's does "Text to Type" mean?  Shorthand uses the term Text to Type to refer to the text associated with the keyword. Other programs may use the terms "long form" or "macro" to refer to what Shorthand calls "Text to Type."

    What's a dictionary?  Shorthand stores your keyword/Text to Type entries in a dictionary. You can create more than one dictionary but only one can be active at any time. Other programs may use the terms "word list," "glossary," or "abbreviation list" to what Shorthand refers to as a "dictionary."
     


    Specifications

    How many dictionary entries can Shorthand support?  The theoretical maximum number of entries in a single dictionary is 2 billion. However, the practical limit is much lower and depends on the amount of free memory available. We have successfully used a 20,000 entry dictionary with Shorthand on a 120 Mhz Pentium PC with 32 Mb of RAM. The number of dictionary files is limited only by hard disk space.

    What is the maximum number of characters that can be associated with a keyword?  32,000 characters total. You cannot get around this limit; the text loaded by the @INPUTFILE tag counts toward this limit. This is a designed limitation to conserve memory; please contact OfficeSoft if you need to transfer large amounts of text.
     


    General Questions

    What is Shorthand?  Shorthand is a text storage and transfer utility designed to work concurrently with other Windows applications. Shorthand allows you to represent frequently used words, phrases and keystrokes with a much shorter command or keyword. Instead of typing the word or phrase, you type the keyword followed by a punctuation mark and Shorthand will insert the text directly into the target application. With Shorthand, you can also define shortcut keys (for example, Ctrl+Alt+C) to quickly play back pre-defined text or keyboard macros. Shorthand is not limited to transferring static text, you can embed special fields ("tags") such as input fields, pick lists and date fields that allow you to dynamically change the text to be transferred.

    How does Shorthand work?  You start Shorthand as you would any Windows application. Shorthand waits in the background until you need it. You start your word processor and begin typing normally. Shorthand will automatically replace keywords as you type. If you need to bring up Shorthand, you can simply press a pre-defined hot key (normally F10 unless you changed it) and Shorthand pops up and takes control. You can then specify the text you want Shorthand to type for you by entering a keyword or using the mouse to select the text from a list. If you wish, you may edit the text before Shorthand types it into your word processor.

    What's the difference between Shorthand and my word processor's macros?  Shorthand and your word processor's macros have the same purpose--to reduce the number of keystrokes you need to type commonly used words. Shorthand has the advantage that it is not tied to a single word processor--you can use it with just about every Windows word processor, text editor, and even with text edit boxes within dialog boxes. Shorthand is designed to be much easier to use than the macro abilities of most word processors (which usually requires programming); much work has gone into designing a user interface that is readily usable by both touch typists and "hunt-and-peck" typists.

    Can Shorthand really work with almost all Windows GUI applications?  Shorthand uses the Windows hooks mechanism to monitor and insert characters into the Windows keyboard message queue. Virtually all Windows GUI (Graphical User Interface) applications uses the standard Windows keyboard message queue and Shorthand should work well with these applications.

    Shorthand is a 32-bit Windows  application; will it work with older Windows 3.1 word processors running under Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP?  Yes. Shorthand works with most Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP applications.  An older 16-bit version of Shorthand is available if you are using a 16-bit Windows operating system; please contact OfficeSoft if you need this version.

    Does Shorthand work with DOS programs?  No. Shorthand works only with programs that use the Windows graphic user interface. (Updated 4/24/06: A third party utility called Tame DOS may allow Shorthand to work with DOS applications; see the entry on Tame DOS in the Shorthand Third Party links page.)

    So what applications are incompatible with  Shorthand?
    Shorthand may not work correctly with:


    Managing Your Shorthand Dictionaries

    How can I convert another file format into the Shorthand file format?  The SHCNV.EXE utility, included with the Shorthand program (choose Run File Converter from Shorthand's File menu), can convert certain ASCII text files, Microsoft Word AutoCorrect entries as well as most word lists generated by word expanders such as PRD, Smartype and Abbreviate. OfficeSoft is constantly adding support for other file types; please contact OfficeSoft if you would like to convert your word list to the Shorthand format.

    How do I copy my dictionary to a floppy disk?  You can use Shorthand 8.60's new "Copy To" function to do this: After inserting diskette into your floppy drive, choose "Copy To" from Shorthand's File menu. In the "Look In" box, select "3.5 Floppy (A:)" and click OK. This will copy the active dictionary to the floppy disk (linked enteries will NOT be copied). If you have more than one dictionary, open the other dictionary by either clicking it's tab or by choosing Open from Shorthand's File menu the copy it to the diskette by choosing "Copy To" from Shorthand's File menu.

    How do I move an entire dictionary to another PC?  On the first PC, save your dictionary to a floppy disk (see previous question). On your second PC:

    1. Insert the floppy into the disk drive then choose Open from Shorthand's File menu, in the Look In box select "3.5 Floppy (A:)", click on the dictionary (.spf) file to open and click the Open button. You should now see the contents of the dictionary in Shorthand.
    2. Choose Save As from the File menu, select a folder on your C: drive in the Look In box and click SAVE. This will copy the dictionary to your hard drive.

    How do I print the contents of a dictionary?  You can print the contents of a dictionary to a text file by selecting "Print to File" from the File Menu.

    Is there a way to conveniently add text to my dictionary?  If AutoReplace is enabled, you can quickly add a single word to your dictionary by pressing the Alt+Ins key immediately after typing a word in your word processor. Alternatively, you can use your mouse to select a block of text in your word processor and then press Ctrl+Ins twice to add the block of text to the active dictionary (this works only if your word processor uses the Ctrl+Ins key to copy text to the clipboard).

    How do I copy or transfer a dictionary entry from one dictionary to another dictionary?  Open both dictionaries and select "Copy" from the Dictionary menu to copy a dictionary entry into the clipboard. You can then use the Dictionary menu's "Paste" command to paste the entry into the destination dictionary.

    How do I append the contents of an entire dictionary into another dictionary?  The SHCNV.EXE utility, included with the Shorthand distribution files, can merge two dictionaries. Choose Run File Converter from Shorthand's File menu to start the SHCNV program.


    Running Shorthand

    Is it possible to run Shorthand automatically whenever I start Windows?  Yes. Place the Shorthand program icon in the Windows Startup folder to have Windows automatically execute Shorthand whenever you start Windows:
    1. Click the Start button, choose Settings then Taskbar.
    2. Click on the Start Menu Programs tab.
    3. Click the Add button.
    4. Click the Browse button. The Shorthand program is called SH9.EXE and is found in the folder
      C:\Program Files\Shorthand for Windows\Sh9

      (unless you placed it in a different directory during installation).

    Shorthand doesn't work correctly with some of my applications!  Try slowing down Shorthand by choosing Preferences from the File menu and setting the delay to something like "Pause 50 msec every 1 keystrokes". If that doesn't work, try changing the text transfer method. Shorthand has two methods for transferring text: by keyboard simulation and by simulating the clipboard paste operation. If you encounter a problem inserting text into an application, try changing the text transfer method in Shorthand's Preferences box. If you are using Microsoft Word, be sure to disable MS Word?s AutoCorrect wizard by choosing AutoCorrect from MS Word?s Tools menu and unchecking the "Replace Text as You Type" box.

    After Shorthand inserts the text, the text caret is positioned at the wrong place in the word processor!  Try changing the text transfer method in Shorthand's Preference box.

    How do I change the date/time formats used by the LONGDATE, SHORTDATE, LONGTIME and SHORTTIME tags?  You can define your own date/time format through the Regional option in the Windows Control Panel. For example, to set the LONGDATE style to something like: "11/26/2010" you would specify the Windows "Long Date" format to be: MM/dd/yyyy

    After you change the Windows date format, you will need to restart (shut down then re-run) Shorthand for the changes to take effect.

    Alternative Method: You can also use Tcl scripts to specify relative dates (such as yesterday's date or 2 weeks from now).

    How do I get rid of the message that asks for confirmation whenever Shorthand exits?  Go to the Display page in the Preferences box and check the "Do Not Confirm Exit" option.


    Using Shorthand Efficiently

    How does Shorthand's AutoReplace function work?  You enable AutoReplace by checking the AutoReplace box that appears above the Keyword box in Shorthand's Main Window. When AutoReplace is enabled, Shorthand watches your keystrokes as you type. When you type a recognized keyword the AutoReplace window pops up and displays the keyword and the associated text. If you type a SPACE, ENTER, TAB or a non-alphanumeric character, Shorthand will backspace over the keyword and insert the text associated with the keyword directly into your word processor.

    How do I create an abbreviation for "-year-old"?  Define the following entry:

    Note: Type the TEXT TO TYPE string EXACTLY as you see it (exactly 20 characters).

    Typing "25 yo " will expand to: "25-year-old".

    How it works: The presence of the phrase "{@KEY bksp}" in the TEXT TO TYPE tells Shorthand to simulate a backspace. You can find out more about the {@KEY} command in Shorthand's Help file (choose Contents from the Help menu and search for @KEY.)

    How do I apply special fonts such as bold or italics?  You cannot bold words inside Shorthand but you can use Shorthand to simulate the keystroke commands to turn bold on/off in your word processor. Shorthand can only simulate keystrokes. Shorthand can apply formatting (superscript, bold, italics, etc.) if you know what your application's keystroke command to apply the formatting.

    In Microsoft Word, the keystroke command to turn bolding on/off is Ctrl+B and you can use Shorthand's {@KEY} tag to simulate the ctrl+b keystroke. For example, if you enter this string in the Shorthand Text to Type box:

    (Note: type the above text exactly (38 characters) or use your mouse to cut and paste the above text into Shorthand.)

    Shorthand will type out "this is bold" in bold when you expand the text in Microsoft Word. You can find out more about the {@KEY} command in Shorthand's Help file (choose Contents from the Help menu and search for "@KEY".)

    You can extend this concept to apply different font styles to your text. The trick is to find out (or configure) a keyboard shortcut in your word processor to apply the desired style then use Shorthand's {@KEY} command to simulate that keystroke.

    Here are some common keyboard commands recognized by Microsoft Word:

    To summarize: If you can do something entirely using only keystrokes, you should, in most cases, be able to create a Shorthand macro to simulates those keystrokes.

    How do I tell Shorthand to automatically insert the closing parenthesis whenever I type the opening parenthesis?  To do this define the following entry:

    Now whenever you type a left parenthesis, Shorthand will automatically insert the left and right parentheses and simulate a left arrow key to place the caret at the proper position between the parentheses.

    How can I define prefixes and suffixes?  Shorthand will replace keywords when you type a non-alphanumeric character. This means that you can define a prefix by simply ending the keyword with a punctuation mark. Suffixes can be defined with keywords that begin with a punctuation mark. Here is an example:

    Now if you type  m;pc;z , Shorthand will expand it to microcomputerization .

    Do I have to memorize keywords to use Shorthand effectively?  If you have difficulty remembering keywords (and who doesn't!), Shorthand has an AutoComplete function that finds the closest keyword. Whenever you type two or more commas after a word in your word processor, Shorthand will find the closest keyword that begins with the word you had typed. For example if your name is "George Washington", you can add the following entry into your dictionary:

    Now if you type g,, ("g" followed by two commas), Shorthand will match this to the closest keyword starting with "g", which is the george keyword (assuming you have no other keyword starting with "g"). Note that the same result will be true if you had typed  ge,,geo,,  or even  george,, .

    Shorthand doesn't seem to recognize keywords with embedded punctuation marks such as "don;t".  Shorthand normally treats non-alphanumeric characters as word separators that mark the beginning or end of a word. So if you type don;t , Shorthand sees this as two words ("don" and "t") separated by a semi-colon. However there is a way to get around this. Shorthand will treat the semi-colon as part of the keyword rather than a word separator if you define the following entry:

    So if you want Shorthand to replace  don;t  with  don't  you should define two entries: Similarly, to have Shorthand replace the word  we;re  with  we're , you will need three entries: Tip: If your aim is to correct spelling errors where a semi-colon is typed instead of an apostrophe (such as don;t, can;t, you;re, we;ve, I;ll, etc.), you could simply define the following keywords:

    Using Shorthand with Microsoft Word

    Can I use Shorthand together with Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect Wizard?  We recommend you turn off MS Word's AutoCorrect Wizard while using Shorthand. If you leave it on, the AutoCorrect Wizard may try to expand the text Shorthand inserts which may produce unexpected results.

    Why do some spaces disappear in MS Word?  MS Word has a feature to automatically delete spaces from text inserted through the clipboard. If you set Shorthand to use the clipboard to insert text, some spaces may disappear as a result. You can either change Shorthand's text transfer method to keyboard simulation (choose Preferences from Shorthand's File menu) or you can tell MS Word not to remove spaces from clipboard text as follows:

    What's the difference between Shorthand and Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect wizard?  Shorthand has the following advantages over MS Word's AutoCorrect wizard:

    1. Shorthand works with almost all Windows applications including dialog boxes and forms.
    2. You can organize your keywords into separate dictionaries with Shorthand.
    3. Shorthand has better support for suffixes and prefixes.
    4. You can insert keystroke macros, input fields and variables in Shorthand's text.

    5. Shorthand supports automatic keyword completion if you type two or more commas after a word.
    How can I transfer my MS Word AutoCorrect entries into Shorthand?  The SHCNV.EXE utility, included with the Shorthand distribution files, can do this for you. Choose Run File Converter from Shorthand's File menu to start the SHCNV program.


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