Spell check, as we’ve often said before, is a life saver in many situations, and perhaps that’s why it exists universally in Mac OS X. Another equally useful feature, though not natively present in OS X, is grammar check. Normally, what you have to work with is a spell check and auto-correct feature that will correct those little typos you make, but can seriously alter the meaning of a sentence if it doesn’t predict a word correctly. Typ-O is a three-in-one Mac app with a text editor that creates and saves files in RTF format, a spelling and grammar checker, and a quick typing tool that allows you to insert a word via the function keys on your keyboard, so that you don’t have to type them out. Typ-O supports both American and UK English, and German. It adjusts its suggestions and the degree of corrections it needs to make, based on your language skills.
Launch Typ-O and you get a text editor with reasonable features that is somewhat similar to TextEdit. You can easily create bullet and numbered lists, and adjust line spacing. There doesn’t appear to be an option for adding tables, and that is one disadvantage right there. When you launch the app, a floating panel appears even before you begin typing anything. The panel will have five or six options for words that you can enter, each with a corresponding function key assigned to it. As you type, Typ-O predicts which word you’re trying to type, and lists it in the options below. It actively reads your text for spelling and grammar errors.
The function keys allow you to use Typ-O as a quick typing tool. Instead of having to type out an entire word, you can use these keys to enter it. It isn’t guaranteed to predict every word that you want to type and you will, in most cases, have to enter the first few letters of a word to bring up the right suggestions. You will also need to develop the habit of using the function keys, since they aren’t ever used when typing.
In addition to being a typing tool and assistant, the app also helps you recognize words using the built-in text-to-speech tool. You can have it read aloud a single word or an entire sentence by clicking the little play button next to a word in the floating window. The search feature is there when you know which word you want to use but can’t quite recall the spelling. Typing in the word in the search bar will bring up matching words that you can hear to determine if they ‘sound’ like the word you want to use. Be warned that Typ-O is not a dictionary; it does intelligently guess which words you want to use, but the wrong word might ‘sound’ right to you (especially in the default system voice), so you should look it up all the same.
Once you’ve figured out how to type with Typ-O, try writing a few sentences and see if the corrections and suggestions are enough to help you type easily. If not, you need to visit the app’s preferences, where you cannot only choose a language, but also tell the app how well you can write it.
Select your language from the three buttons next to I want to write. While you will know right away if German is the right language for you, if you aren’t from either UK or USA, you will need to carefully chose which English writing style you follow. Most European and Common Wealth countries follow the UK style.
Next up, honestly tell the app how good a speller you are by choosing one of the three options for My Spelling is, and from Vocabulary size select how rich your vocabulary is, which helps the app better determine the words you might be trying to use.
If you like to use strong words (read: curse a lot) in your writing, but would like to keep it suitable for publishing, you can turn the Profanity Filter on. What this does is insert asterisks in the place of letters of a curse word, leaving only the first letter untouched. The screenshot below should give you a more clear idea of how this feature works.
Lastly, if you don’t feel like using Typ-O as a quick typing tool, and would prefer it only for its spelling and grammar feature, you can stop it from predicting the next word by turning Predict next word off. The app uses the default system voice to read sentences out loud. The voice can be changed from Use voice of, but this will only change the voice in Typ-O, and not system wide.
Typ-O saves in RTF format, and documents created with Typ-O can be opened in TextEdit or using MS Word if you need to send it to someone on a Windows PC. An iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch version of this app is also available.