Using British English spelling in Windows Live Writer

I finally found a way to get Live Writer to stop “correcting” my correct spellings, which makes me really happy. It is so frustrating when my screen is covered in coloured wavy lines because I chose to utilise an English spelling rather than an Americanized one. I’m not saying US spellings are inherently “wrong”, but they are wrong in the context of me being British, and if I were to mix my spellings it would be very inconsistent.

As several people have pointed out, Windows Live Writer (WLW) Beta comes with an American English dictionary by default. This is frustrating as it means I end up adding lots of things to my custom dictionary which I should not really need to do. I have also commented that it would be nice if it could look for and use (and share) my custom dictionary from MS Office. Why do I keep having to add my surname and street (for example) to a dictionary for every application? Isn’t it about time someone started using an Open format for dictionaries (maybe XML based like everything else these days)?

How to swap the US dictionary for a British one

In this blog post Graham Chastney describes how to swap the ssceam.clx file for sscebr2.clx. Interestingly my install has ssceam2 – perhaps a version number based on the fact I am running Beta2?

Anyway, his instructions are simply to swap the *AM*.clx file for a downloaded *BR*.clx file in Program Files\Windows Live Writer\Dictionaries by copying in and renaming, and essentially this works. The .clx file contains all kinds of clever dictionary things such as valid word endings, and this fixes all the -ised, -ising problems and so on. My recommendation is to rename the files by appending .us (rather than .old) so that it is more obvious which is which if you do want to swap between them.

However, what Graham neglects to mention is that the associated .tlx file is a list of 1000+ words including lots of the roots like color / colour so you really need to swap this too if you want to fix all of the spelling “mistakes”. If you leave this alone, then both “color” and “colour” will be accepted as correct spellings. This may suit you or you may prefer (as I do) to show US spellings as incorrect in which case you need to swap the .tlx file as well.

Swapping the files out without renaming causes WLW to fail at startup, and there seems to be no way to have more than one dictionary used “live” nor to choose a language in the GUI. Maybe there is some undocumented reg hack to set which one to use, but there is nothing obvious as the only value under the Live Writer key is to indicate the install path.

Why is Live Writer written like a bad third-party application?

EDIT: OK, this was simply wrong. After a couple of comments below I went back and checked. It was my mistake, I had been chasing something down and had my virtualised filestore open and switched windows while I was swapping dictionaries around. I screwed up. The user dictionary is in the roaming part of the profile, which is a really great place for it to live and exactly where I would want it to be kept. The whole of this paragraph is hereby stricken from the record. I apologise to readers for confusion and to the developers for the accusations.

Bad Adam – back in my box!

Incidentally, I find it really odd that WLW acts like a legacy application on Vista and stores the custom user dictionary in a virtualised folder What happened to “eating your own dog food”? Bad dog, Microsoft – back in your box.


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7 Responses to Using British English spelling in Windows Live Writer

  1. Pingback: James O'Neill's blog : Windows Live Writer: Getting a new dictionary

  2. Joe Cheng says:

    Thanks for the feedback!

    We’re well aware of the pain for others to have to use US dictionaries only. We’ll be adding more dictionaries, including UK English, before Windows Live Writer exits beta–though we’ll still be far from catching up with Word (and there are internal reasons why we cannot currently use their proofing technology).

    I’m not sure what you mean about the user dictionary being stored on a per-machine basis, or being virtualized. We store them in roaming appdata. The only thing that should be stored in local appdata is log files and cached versions of downloaded resources. For example, on my Vista machine the user dictionary file is here:

    C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Windows Live Writer\Dictionaries\userdic.tlx

    What are you seeing in the virtualized program directory? We should never be storing anything there. I see one file in mine, dbpconfig.xml, but it’s being written by a third-party Writer plug-in (the one for inserting bookmarks).


  3. Adam Vero says:

    Thanks for the comments.
    I went back and checked and it was entirely my fault. I apologise and have edited the post as shown above.

  4. Joe Cheng says:

    No offense taken, just glad to hear there’s not a real problem there. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Windows Live Writer Beta 3 and dictionaries « Getting IT right

  6. Ian says:

    Just out of interest, Live Mail is not only now out of Beta, I’ve been told by MS that I have to upgrade to it if I want to keep reading my hotmail offline as support for Outlook Express is being withdrawn in June (I miss it already, its been my mail reader for 12 years!) and the UK english dictionary is still not available for install or download.

    I have to be fair that while the layout is different, LM is faster than trusty old OE, so I accept the reason for the upgrade. But it’s sloppy that I’m forced to use an Amercian dictionary in an international release product.

    I know from doing some investigations (which is where i found this post) that I can muck about with ini files to fix it, but I really shouldn’t have to be hacking about in notepad in this day and age for such a simple but necesary user customisation.

  7. Adam, just so you know, the link in this post has now moved over to:
    (even though the hack is largely redundant now anyway)

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