OpenOffice: Tips and Tricks Part II

In part one we started a tutorial series covering tips and tricks to help you make the transition from Microsoft (MS) Office to (OOo) 2.4 easier. We discovered how to add more templates and clip art to OOo, include grammar checking, and replicate the convenient Split Window feature of MS Office. This part of the series will take you through the process of importing the custom dictionary of MS Office, setting OOo to always save in the MS Office format, and using MS Office. Ready, set, go!

You know when Word or Writer thinks you misspelled a word it puts that annoying, yet priceless, red squiggly line under the word? Well when you right-click the word or run the Spelling Grammar tool and add it to the dictionary, it puts the word or phrase into your custom dictionary. Therefore, the next time you type the word or phrase, Word doesn’t prompt you that it’s misspelled. You are teaching MS Office people’s names, technical terms, brand names and other words not in its dictionary. has the same type of custom dictionary functionality, yet it doesn’t make use of any words or phrases you’ve added to your Microsoft Office dictionary. This can be a real pain in the butt if you’ve used this feature a great deal in Microsoft Office.

However don’t fret, you can import your Microsoft Office custom dictionary entries into As the following paragraphs discuss, all it just takes is downloading a macro and a few minutes of your time.

First you need to find the CUSTOM.DIC file that contains the words you’ve added to the custom dictionary Microsoft Office uses. In Windows Vista, you may be able to find this file at C:UsersusernameAppDataRoamingMicrosoftProof. In XP, try C:Documents and SettingsusernameApplicationDataMicrosoftProof.

Tip: In order to see the AppData or ApplicationData folders you must have the Show Hidden Files and Folders option enabled-the people at Microsoft think you may go crazy and start messing with the important files. To toggle this option in My Computer (Computer in Vista) or Windows Explorer, click Tools — Folder Options, select the View tab, and check or uncheck the option as shown in Figure 1.

If you don’t find the CUSTOM.DIC file in the typical spot, you can reference the Custom Dictionaries dialog box of Microsoft Word for a hint to where the file is located. On the Word toolbar, click Tools — Options…, select the Spelling & Grammar tab, and click the Custom Dictionaries button. Finally, near the bottom of the dialog box you’ll see a partial path to the file, which Microsoft actually labels the Full Path. If all else fails, you can try running a search of your entire computer, including system files.

If you’re curious, you can double-click the CUSTOM.DIC file to open it up and see what words you’ve added to the dictionary over the years. It might even bring back some of those grand memories of typing those last minute reports for school or work.

Now you need to download the Dictionary Import/Export macro and extract the contents of the .zip file into an accessible folder.

Next you need to add the folder containing the macro (.sxw) file to the Trusted Sources of Writer, as the default Macro Security settings probably won’t let you run the Macro. On the Writer toolbar, click Tools — Options, expand, select Security, click the Macro Security button, and select the Trusted Sources tab as seen in Figure 2. Then click the Add button, browse to and select the folder you just extracted the file to, and click OK.

Finally, you can open the macro (.sxw) file by either double-clicking it or using the Open dialog box of Writer. Next, click the big Run Macro button in the document to bring up the Import & Export Dictionary dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.

Click the button next to the Text File field to browse and select the CUSTOM.DIC file you found earlier. Then you can choose a dictionary to import the words to (standard.dic should be fine) and click the Import button.

Well done; now Writer shouldn’t bother about misspelling words you had already added to Word. Just remember any words you add to Word from now on won’t automatically be added to your Writer custom dictionary; and vice versa. If you seem to use both applications regularly, you might want to repeat this process once in awhile.

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