Synchronizing Custom Dictionaries With The Cloud

Everyone I know who writes about technology has developed an extensive custom dictionary file for Microsoft Office. Sometimes it seems every third word I write is a company, product name or some piece of tech jargon that Word doesn't recognize. Since I work on several different computers, I use SugarSync to keep my custom dictionary up to date.

Howard Marks

March 27, 2012

2 Min Read
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Everyone I know who writes about technology has developed an extensive custom dictionary file for Microsoft Office. Sometimes it seems every third word I write is a company, product name or some piece of tech jargon that Word doesn't recognize. Since I work on several different computers, I use SugarSync to keep my custom dictionary up to date.

While I use SugarSync, the basic technique I use should work with DropBox, Box.com or any other file synchronization service. All you have to do is move your custom dictionary to a folder you synchronize across all your computers.

The first step is to figure out where the custom dictionary on each of your computers is hiding. The default path for Windows Vista and Windows 7 is C:Users{username}AppDataRoamingMicrosoftUProof. Why it's not in the ...MicrosoftProof folder where you would expect it to be, I don't know.

The custom dictionary file is just a text file of the words you have added. If you have different custom dictionaries on multiple machines and want to keep all the words, just concatenate them. Word will sort them and doesn't mind if there are duplicates. Office 2003 won't add words to a dictionary file bigger than 64K. I don't know if this limitation continues through Office 2007 and 2010.

Once you've figured out what custom dictionary you want to use, copy it to a folder that you sync across your machines. I used Magic BriefcaseDict since SugarSync syncs the Magic Briefcase folder that holds all my in-progress work anyway.

Now you need to tell Word to use the common dictionary. In Word 2007, click the magic ball thingie at upper-right, and then click the Word Options button.

Click New and select your new file. Then select it and click the Change Default button.

As long as all your computers stay online you should be able to access and update the dictionary as much as you like. Word writes to the dictionary file only when you add words and reads it when you open a document or start a spell check. I've added words on one computer and had them synchronize in about a minute.

If you add words to an offline laptop and another computer before the laptop has a chance to sync, you'll end up with the new words from whichever one had the latest update, and it's dictionary file will overwrite the older one.

While I was at it, I configured SugarSync to include the Usersappdataroamingmicrosofttemplates, and Usersappdataroamingmicrosoftsignatures folders so I always have my templates and Outlook signatures.

Frankly, this works better than roaming profiles ever did on a LAN.

Editor's Note: Howard mentioned dictionary synchronization on Twitter, and I asked him to write something up about it. It's a neat tip I haven't seen elsewhere, and I wanted to share it.

About the Author(s)

Howard Marks

Network Computing Blogger

Howard Marks</strong>&nbsp;is founder and chief scientist at Deepstorage LLC, a storage consultancy and independent test lab based in Santa Fe, N.M. and concentrating on storage and data center networking. In more than 25 years of consulting, Marks has designed and implemented storage systems, networks, management systems and Internet strategies at organizations including American Express, J.P. Morgan, Borden Foods, U.S. Tobacco, BBDO Worldwide, Foxwoods Resort Casino and the State University of New York at Purchase. The testing at DeepStorage Labs is informed by that real world experience.</p><p>He has been a frequent contributor to <em>Network Computing</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>InformationWeek</em>&nbsp;since 1999 and a speaker at industry conferences including Comnet, PC Expo, Interop and Microsoft's TechEd since 1990. He is the author of&nbsp;<em>Networking Windows</em>&nbsp;and co-author of&nbsp;<em>Windows NT Unleashed</em>&nbsp;(Sams).</p><p>He is co-host, with Ray Lucchesi of the monthly Greybeards on Storage podcast where the voices of experience discuss the latest issues in the storage world with industry leaders.&nbsp; You can find the podcast at: http://www.deepstorage.net/NEW/GBoS

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