I gladly let my trial of TypeBooster run out because it was too glitchy for me. When I went looking for a comparable program, I found Typing Assistant 4.1, tried it out, and snapped it right up. If you want to buy it, it’s slightly more expensive than TypeBooster at $35, but definitely worth it. Even though the program’s name sounds generic, it’s actually extremely functional.
First of all, this program really is universal — it’s not just limited to the newer programs. Even I, still clinging to Microsoft Word XP, can use it. Big plus right there. Second, the programmers have actually fixed that seemingly omnipresent bug that all word prediction programs seem to have — for a change, this program does not suddenly quit working in the middle of a word. Third, it works with both physical and virtual keystrokes.
The gist of Typing Assistant is similar to most others — using either the number or function keys (or pointing device) to select word suggestions from a list. You can adjust the letter threshold. You have the option of telling the program to insert a character after words are predicted, such as a space, period, or comma. Since this character will appear after every word you select, the space seems to be the most logical option if you decide to do this. Most importantly, Typing Assistant immediately begins ordering your selections by frequency of use.
Where Typing Assistant differs from other programs is first of all its treatment of the shorthand feature, which I like very much. When you enter your shorthand and its corresponding replacement text, it becomes part of the prediction, meaning that you select from the same numbered list. Helpfully, when you begin to type your shorthand, the suggestion list actually gives you the text it stands for, so you don’t have to keep remembering your replacements. Whatever settings you applied to the prediction will also apply to the shorthand. For example, if you have told Typing Assistant to insert a space after predictions, your shorthand result will also have a space after it. I like this feature because it was occasionally fatiguing for me to have to keep using the spacebar in order to expand my shorthand in programs like Writer. (I like to reduce movement as much as possible.) Additionally, you can use both capital and lowercase letters for your shorthand, and give them separate values. For example, in my list “X” will give me the suggestion “whether,” and “x” will suggest “if.” You have more options for your shorthand here, because it will not expand unless you tell it to. So, if you have used the letters “me” to stand for something, you don’t have to sacrifice using the pronoun “me” — just ignore the suggestion list and keep typing.
Another feature I find myself using is the clipboard extender. Normally when you copy something, you can only do one thing at a time because the next item wipes out the previous. Typing Assistant takes whatever you’ve copied and puts it into its own “clipboard prediction dictionary,” which can also appear in the general suggestion list if you want it to. If you just want to see the clipboard, just press Alt-Right arrow. This way, if you’re putting multiple links in your blog post for example, it’s a lot faster. Another feature, which I have not used much, is the Auto Launcher, which will create hotkeys to launch your favorite programs.
Although Typing Assistant has hotkeys to bring up its control panel and its separate dictionaries, its only drawback at the moment is that its menus are not accessible by keyboard. To make choices like OK, Add, or Delete, you have to actually move the cursor to the button and click it, either with Mouse Keys or pointing device. However, it turns out Typing Assistant has excellent technical support. I wrote to the programmers and suggested adding the ability to use the Tab and Enter keys to navigate, and they answered that they hadn’t thought of that while making 4.1, but would consider it for the next version. They even offered to tell me when they added it. How cool is that?