Editing Excalibur’s user dictionary

Excalibur is a spell checker for Mac OS X that knows about LaTeX markup and knows to avoid it. Up till today I’ve found it a very useful little program. Here, for future reference, is the procedure I had to go through to edit a User Dictionary, after accidentally adding a mis-spelled word.

  1. Use Conversions, Dictionary -> Text in the Dictionary Menu to convert the Dictionary to text: choose file type to be BBEdit.
  2. Edit the resulting file in your text editor of choice.
  3. Find that mysteriously Excalibur refuses to look at the edited file because the creator code and type (relics from pre Mac OS X) have been changed.
  4. Open up a terminal and issue the following commands
    setFile -c "R*ch"  ExcaliburDictionary

    followed by

    setFile -t "TEXT"  ExcaliburDictionary.
  5. Use Conversions, Text -> Dictionary in the Dictionary Menu to convert back to the binary Dictionary format.
  6. All of this is complicated by the fact that Excalibur likes to store its User Dictionaries in its own directory, which is not writable unless one overrides permissions. (Still more strangely the Finder allows me to delete files in this directory, provided I authenticate, but refuses to allow them to be renamed.)

    I later realised that a better approach to (2) would have been to use an editor that knew nothing of file creators: vi would have worked fine, although the old style line feed ^M endings make the file look rather a mess.

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