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Smart Spell Checker and Clipboard Access in Google Docs

Google Docs launched an update to spell checking in documents and presentations that grows and adapts with the web, instead of relying on a fixed dictionary. “The neat thing about that system is that it’s adaptive: our suggestions get smarter and smarter based on the words Googlebot sees as it explores the web,” Google stated.

This new spell checker is available for English documents and presentations, but will soon availabe to more languages.

This update has a few big advantages over traditional spell checkers including:

Suggestions are contextual. For example, the spell checker is now smart enough to know what you mean if you type “Icland is an icland.”

“Contextual suggestions are made even if the misspelled word is in the dictionary. If you write “Let’s meat tomorrow morning for coffee” you’ll see a suggestion to change “meat” to “meet”,” Google said.

“Suggestions are constantly evolving. As Google crawls the web, we see new words, and if those new words become popular enough they’ll automatically be included in our spell checker–even pop culture terms, like Skrillex,” explains Google.

A major annoyance when you use web apps that include a rich text editor is that they don’t have access to the clipboard. While browsers don’t allow JavaScript access to the clipboard without permission, there’re workarounds that use Flash, but they’re limited to copying some text to the clipboard.

For now, the best thing you can do is to use keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+C for copy, Ctrl+X for cut, Ctrl+V for paste) or install the Google Docs app in Chrome.

Of course, you can use the browser’s features, including keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, but not everyone will do that.

“If you use Internet Explorer, cut/copy/paste are available in the Edit menu and in the contextual menu. When you use these features, a browser dialog asks for permission. In Firefox, cut/copy/paste are removed from the contextual menu, but they’re still available in the Edit menu. Try to click one of these options and Google Docs will ask you to use keyboard shortcuts. Google Toolbar for Firefox included an option that addressed this issue, but Google Toolbar is no longer available for Firefox 4+. Fortunately, there are some workarounds.”

What happens when you use Chrome? Select some text, right-click, choose “copy” and Google Docs shows the following message: “Copying and pasting requires the free Google Docs web app. This lets us access your clipboard so you can cut, copy and paste.” To install the app you don’t need to open a new page, but you’ll have to reload Google Docs to use the new permissions.

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