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ATPM 5.01
January 1999



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Review: Spell Tools 1.3.3

by Frank Petrie,


Product Information
Published by: Newer Technology

Whatsa matter, Bunky? You say you’ve got a separate spell checker for each and every one of your applications? And you’re constantly updating each and every dictionary separately? And wouldn’t it be fantastic if you had one single spell checker that would work with all of your applications? Is that what’s bothering you, Bunky?

Well, your worries are at an end. In the great computer-user tradition of demanding something for nothing, I give you SpellTools, freeware from Newer Technology (the people who bring you GURU and high-quality upgrade cards). SpellTools provides “seamless integration of spell checking and other text tools into existing Macintosh applications.” And you get all of this for 256K of real estate.


SpellTools is a universal spell checker whose functions are controlled from a floating palette, which can be oriented either vertically or horizontally. Another plus is that you can place your floating palette in a different location for each separate application you use it in. So, if one position is good for your e-mail program, but not so good for your browser, no problem. Place it where it best suits your work habits in each application and SpellTools will remember its location every time.

[st1 graphic]

SpellTools comes packaged with a wide assortment of plug-ins for many existing applications. But what if you have a program that isn’t mainstream? Nothing to it. Simply drag the desired application icon on to the SpellTools icon and SpellTools automatically creates a plug-in for the desired application. That’s it.

The Tools

[st2 graphic]

Spell Tool; this is the main function of the program. Simply highlight the text that you wish to check and click on this button. It comes with a user-definable dictionary that can be manipulated through keyboard shortcuts. Also, there’s a field in the SpellTools window that highlights the offending word in its context.

Speech; highlight the desired text and, as long as you have the Speech Manager extension installed, you can have your selected text read back to you.

Stamps; a very useful and customizable feature. Besides the usual date and time stamps, you can create custom stamps with ease, either from a text selection or from scratch. Very handy for salutations and closing lines that you use repeatedly in business correspondence (I use it with my e-mail client constantly).

Text Tools; an array of useful options; word counting; uppercasing, lowercasing, and capitalization of text; stripping or adding “”s in e-mails; and stripping lead spaces (not as extensive as the shareware program textSOAP, but handy all the same, and Hey!’s free!).

Preferences; shortcut to SpellTools prefs file. Allows you another avenue to edit your stamps, your plug-ins, and your user dictionary.

Despite its ease-of-use, SpellTools comes with a brilliantly simple hands-on tutorial that walks you through each function of the software. Within no more than three minutes any newbie will have mastered this program.


How does SpellTools stack up to its commercial competitors? SpellTools is plain Vanilla to their French Vanilla. Both Online Army Knife and Spell Catcher offer far more bells and whistles, such as batch processing, grammar correction, and basic auto-correction. These applications are far more extensive than SpellTools. But some of their bells and whistles are “vanilla” themselves. For example, Online Army Knife has a limited sound conversion function. You can run rings around it with SoundApp, another indispensable piece of freeware.


If FinderPop is the greatest freeware utility of all time (and make no mistake about it, it is), then SpellTools is a very close second. No, it’s not for power users. If you are working on a thesis or reams of text, then you want to look to the commercial applications. But if you’re an average user doing basic word processing, e-mail, and such, then it will dutifully serve its purposes. I can think of no reason that SpellTools shouldn’t have a permanent place in your bag of tricks.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?

[apple graphic] Copyright © 1999 Frank Petrie. Mr. Petrie serves on the SJAUG as a Board Member and Vendor Rep. He can be reached for comment on this article at

Reader Comments (19)

Claude M. Boland · April 23, 2001 - 01:01 EST #1
The last message that I have from Craig Marciniak is as follows. PS - it still does not work. Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 03:40:43 -0700
Subject: Re: AppleWorks 6.0.4
From: Craig Marciniak
To: "claude m. boland" Hello Claude, I know of a problem with AppleWorks 6 that you may be referring to. To make a long story short it has to do with Carbon and SpellTools trying to be smart about getting out of the way at appropriate times. The floating palettes in AppleWorks are confusing SpellTools. I have this on the fix list. The good news is I am indeed making progress with the next version of SpellTools. I plan on updating my site eventually. Things are just moving slower than I anticipated. Cheers.\ Craig Marciniak
19608 Pruneridge Avenue #9103
Cupertino, CA 95014
Diana Pratt · June 1, 2001 - 01:01 EST #2
NewerTech may be out of business. I downloaded Spell Tools 1.3.3 because I couldn't use 1.3.2 after I installed OS 9 on my Mac and it wouldn't function and I haven't been able to reach them since by phone or e-mail. The link for NewerTech on your web page also doesn't connect. Do you know anything about this. Spell Tools is a great freeware.
Nancy Love · September 17, 2001 - 00:02 EST #3
Why does my iMac OS 9.1 crash when I use Spell Tools to "normalize returns of text selection"? I think my version is 1.3. What can I do to eliminate this problem? No other program causes this problem. Experimenting, I find that it may work for one or two or three times, and then the next one will crash. Symantec tells me I have no problems. Help, please! Very frustrating! Aloha, Nancy Love 9/16/01
Frank Petrie · September 17, 2001 - 11:02 EST #4
Nancy, NewerTechnology went under awhile back, but about a year before that they sold SpellTools to one of their engineers who promised to keep it afloat. Alas, as far as I know, nothing came of this past v 1.3.3. I moved on to Spell Catcher from Casady & Greene. It's low-priced and filled the void nicely for me. Sorry that I can't offer any further information. Frank Petrie
Sean T. O'Brien · October 16, 2001 - 10:31 EST #5
Good news, I guess, for fans of SpellTools. (I was just hunting around to see if an update existed.) SpellTools 4.0 does EXIST!!! YEA!! Go here: There even is a nice little message from the former engineer/new owner of the shareware. Everything you want to know about the current status of SpellTools is there.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 16, 2001 - 19:18 EST #6
Here's Craig Marciniak's message, for those who'd like to read it without downloading the updater. Unless there's another link someone knows about, Craig is behind schedule from his plan, outlined below. And, by the way, it's not SpellTools 4.0. Still 1.x

Dear SpellTools User, As you may or may not know I, Craig Marciniak, now own the rights to SpellTools® and have elected to support it on my own and re-release it as shareware. I have come up with a three-phase plan: Phase I. Immediate Release (version 1.4)
I have an interim fix for MacOS 9. Integrated online purchasing is taking longer to implement than anticipated. I am releasing this version on the honor system with the hope you will pay for the forthcoming update. Of course, I certainly wouldn't mind if you wanted to send me $10.00 via snail-mail now.
Phase II. First Quarter 2000 Maintenance Release (version 1.5)
The "official new version" will be released within the first three months of 2000. This release will have integrated online purchasing, more Appearance Manger support, and minor bug fixes. It will cost $10.00 (plus a minor credit card processing fee to be determined).
Phase III. Future Updates
The volume of registration responses will be the determination for future releases of SpellTools. There are additional features planned that will enhance SpellTools and continue its evolution. Please appreciate I am a lone developer working on this project in his spare time. Moreover, SpellTools is a very complicated and large project and it is unrealistic to maintain it for free. I may be slow in responding to e-mail regarding SpellTools, but, I will try to respond to all reasonable inquiries as time allows.
Sincerely, Craig Marciniak Note: The "SpellTools 1.3.3 Installer" places a file entitled "Text Services Manager Fix" in your "Extensions" folder. This is no longer needed. It may be trashed or disabled via the "Extensions Manager."
Ray Fleetwood · December 15, 2001 - 18:31 EST #7
I have downloaded SpellTools 1.3.3 for my Mac OS 9. I can't find find the update 1.4 to download. Is this the latest version?
Effie · April 18, 2002 - 15:40 EST #8
I downloaded the Spelltools 1.4 update, but can't find 1.3.3 which I need.
Albert Honig · November 22, 2002 - 17:43 EST #9
How do you download SpellTools 1.3 and the 1.4 update?

Al Honig
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 22, 2002 - 17:52 EST #10
Albert - someone else may have to chime in about where to get Spell Tools in the first place, but the link above (scroll up on this web page a little bit) still works for the 1.4 updater.
Albert Honig · November 26, 2002 - 17:00 EST #11
I'd like to use Spell Tools as a startup item so it's on the screen in all my writings. How do you do it?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 26, 2002 - 17:06 EST #12
Albert - easy. Just make an alias of the Spell Tools application (click on the application icon, then File : Make Alias), then drag that alias to the Startup Items fodler inside of your System Folder. It will then launch every time you start up the computer.
Bruce Harris · December 23, 2002 - 19:08 EST #13
I tried to update the SpellTools 1.3.3 I have with version 1.4. The updater control panel states it cannot find a SpellTools application to update. When I manually place the SpellsTools 1.3.3 into the updater control panel, the updater still doesn't see it. Oh well, I'm happy with 1.3.3. Works great with OS 9.1.
Paul Stamser · July 7, 2005 - 11:28 EST #14
I have SpellTools 1.3.3 (just checked) and it worked fine with OS 8.6, but doesn't work for me using OS 9.1.

I click on the SpellTools icon or place an alias in the Startup Items folder and it appears to be opening, but no icon appears up in the right hand corner applications finder. Nor does the SpellTools palette appear anywhere.

Too bad because I really liked it and found it very useful.....

Anyone know what is wrong?
Harold Pascal · December 18, 2005 - 12:08 EST #15
Spell Tools is amazing. Will there ever be a version that works with Mac Tiger?
ATPM Staff · December 18, 2005 - 20:03 EST #16
Don't OS X's built-in dictionaries make Spell Tools obsolete?
Ernest Rialey · December 3, 2008 - 09:59 EST #17
Is SpellTools available for Leopard? If not, will it be in the future or is this a dead horse. Loved the little bugger but haven't been able to use it aince OS 9.X.
Robert Lupton · August 24, 2009 - 00:43 EST #18
For some reason the application SpellTools 1.3.3 is missing and Eudora is not able to spell check. I have the 2 SpellTools dictionaries...where can I get a copy of SpellTools 1.3.3. I am running 9.2.2
Ernest Rialey · September 22, 2009 - 10:47 EST #19
I'm running Snow Leopard 10.6.on an IMac with Intel processor. Is there any possibility of a new SpellTools which will work with this?

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