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Summary:

It happens to the best of us; we think we’re typing one thing, and instead type another. The autocorrect feature in iOS (and now in OS X Lion, too) doesn’t help matters, and can actually be quite annoying. But there are ways to get around it.

auto-correct-feature

It happens to the best of us: We think we’re typing one thing, and we end up typing another. The auto-correct feature in iOS   (and now in OS X Lion, too) doesn’t help matters, and can actually be quite annoying. But there are ways to get around it.

At the heart of the issue is a little database file named dynamic-text.dat that is stored in the “mobile” user directory located in /private/var/mobile/Library/Keyboard. But unless you plan on jailbreaking your iOS device, you aren’t going to be directly updating this dictionary of acceptable words. Instead, here are a few tricks to master the list of words in that dictionary without hacks.

Search from Safari

After refusing to accept the auto-corrected version of the word you just typed by canceling the suggestion a few times over, iOS should add that word to the dictionary automatically. But this trick won’t work in every app.

Most have found that repeating this process takes at least three consecutive times in Safari’s search bar before the word is added to the dictionary.  No matter how many times you attempt the same thing in the Notes app, you won’t succeed, however. So if you want iOS to learn from your frequently used terms, spending a lot of time browsing the mobile web can be an effective means of getting it done in the background.

Safari Search

Create a contact

If rejecting the suggested correction over and over does not do the trick, try creating a new user in your Contacts list that contains the words you are having difficulties with. It doesn’t have to be the name of the contact, and you do not have to create a separate entry for each word you want to add.  You can add the words in the notes field of the contact if you like. Information in your contact list will add words to the dictionary that iOS uses to check against.

Add Contact

Add an international keyboard

Why not just add the word to the dictionary directly? To access the dictionary, you first have to add the “Japanese Ten Key” keyboard as an additional international keyboard. Once added, you’ll expose a “hidden” feature of iOS that enables you to “Edit User Dictionary…” and add words to the auto-correct dictionary from the Keyboard Settings on your device.

User Dictionary

Use TextExpander

As a last stand, you can use an app called TextExpander to create your own endless list of user-defined dictionaries. TextExpander offers a number of predefined snippet groups, like the auto-correct group that has 100 common misspellings.  You just have to use TextExpander’s built-in touch notes to copy and paste text for apps that do not support TextExpander.

TextExpander

Turn off auto-correct

Finally, you may just have to surrender, and disable the Auto-Correction feature in the Keyboard settings of your iOS device.  This is an extreme measure, and likely only applicable if you keep running into multiple frequently used words that keep getting corrected whenever you use them.

Auto Correct

  1. Auto correct feature in iOS is a piece of CRAP.

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  2. Why not just add the word manually to the dictionary? The option is right in one of the screenshots on there. “Edit user dictionary”

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    1. Alamgir Tamboli Tuesday, October 11, 2011

      Umm, they already say that:
      Add an international keyboard

      Why not just add the word to the dictionary directly? To access the dictionary, you first have to add the “Japanese Ten Key” keyboard as an additional international keyboard. Once added, you’ll expose a “hidden” feature of iOS that enables you to “Edit User Dictionary…”

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      1. Doesn’t work for me, more’s the pity. My name always gets “corrected”, as does hell and its. If this had worked to stop that, I’d be a happy man. No such luck

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      2. On the 3GS, the option to add ten key isn’t present. The ability to add text shortcuts is, so you can use it to override words instead.

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  3. None of these solutions work. Try testing them before just writing an article to get hits on your website. I suppose the only one that “works” is disabling the auto correct feature.

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    1. Are you able to share the word you are trying to add to the autocorrect database? I can assure you that each of the above has worked (and not worked) for me. If only one solution worked absolutely each time, I would not have posted a list of options to try.

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  4. With iOS 5 there is a far easier way to deal with this. Under Settings -> General -> Keyboard, you’ll see an option for “Shortcuts”. Simply add a shortcut with the word you would like to override as both the phrase and the shortcut. For instance, the possessive “its” is incorrectly changed to “it’s” (contraction for “it is” by iOS. By adding a shortcut to replace “its” with “its”, you can override the incorrect replacement.

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