Keilly: Scrabble Dictionary Widget

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scrabble Dictionary Widget

Travel Scrabble is a great game when on holiday, but carrying the dictionary is a pain. So I cooked up a scrabble dictionary widget while on a cross country flight (you do take your laptop on holiday right?)

It's the simplest thing ever, just type in the word and press enter and you'll see a red or green indicator.

It uses the freely available word lists for SOWPODS or TWL. SOWPODS is the valid British English and American English word lists combined; TWL is the North American word list for 2006; you can choose on the widget back which, or both, to use.

Depending on where you live Scrabble is the trademark of Hasbro or Mattel. Using the Scrabble name for anything is a legal minefield. So I decided to call the widget the incredibly dull "SOWPODS/TWL Word Checker"

Download Word Checker Widget
OS X 10.5 Compatible (10.4 tested version here)

Thanks to Andy Isaacson for tweaking the text clearing behaviour.


Anonymous said...

email me at

I want to know if you will be coming out with a scrabble widget with definitions... It always stinks to know the word, look it up on your widget, and then nobody believe that you actually know what it means. In my family, it doesn't count if you don't know what it means.


Neil Cochrane said...

I don't, mainly because I don't actually have a list of the definitions. If I can get one that isn't under copyright and doesn't bloat the widget too much, I'll add it.

Markus Lloyd said...

Love the widget, really useful. Now, the but. I'm red/green colour blind - I really can't distinguish ok from no go - couldn't you introduce a simple tick and cross system?

Neil Cochrane said...

Hi Markus,
Changing the images is easy if you'd like to have a go!

- Open Finder to your-home /Library/Widgets
- Right click (control click) on 'Word Checker' and choose 'Show package contents'
- In the images folder you'll see the image files. Edit or replace them with some custom ones, just make sure new ones are named the same.

I'll remember your requirements if I ever make a version 2.

Kathryn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathryn said...

you don't happen to have an older version available somewhere that works on 10.3.9, do you? i'm not up current with the rest of the world. :(

Neil Cochrane said...

Hi Kathryn,
Sorry I don't. I have no way of backporting it as I don't have a version of 10.3 to test it on.
Also, I don't think Dashboard itself was even [officially] available for 10.3.
- Neil

Anonymous said...

Are there directions on what to do with the file to get it to run? (New to widgets) I can unzip, but don't have any idea what to do with the files, as no .exe is obvious to me. Thnx

Neil Cochrane said...

The widget is designed for mac OSX. Safari will automatically install it. Other browsers: double clicking on the zip file and then again on the unzipped file will install it.
I suspect you are using Windows though, in which case it won't work. Sorry.

Mark Greenan said...

Cool widget, but how do you switch back and forth from the TWL and SOWPODS lists?

Thanks, I'm new to Macs!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm not new to macs but I also can't get it to switch dictionaries. When I hover over the widget nothing happens.

Neil Cochrane said...

Yeah, sorry, the swap dictionary feature disappeared when I upgraded the widget to Leopard. It now uses both dictionaries by default.
If you'd like to use just one, the other or even a custom dictionary do this....

- In Finder go to Library/Widgets
- Right click on the widget file and choose 'Show Package Contents'
- In the new window you will see the sowpods.txt and TWL06.txt files.
- Delete the dictionary you don't want

- For a custom dictionary: delete both, and add a file called 'sowpods.txt'. The file contains your word list, one word per line.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Keilly!

Looks great and works well.

Gopal Nadig said...

Do you plan on adding a version for Vista? Thnx.

Neil Cochrane said...

I don't have a copy of Vista, so no, sorry.
I've no problem if someone else wants to adapt it though.

Anonymous said...

noticed that the TWL dictionary didn't list the word AND... Do you need to update this dictionary further??

Neil Cochrane said...

I'm at work and can't check the running widget right now. But looking directly at the wordlist file I can see 'AND' is in there. Are you sure you didn't put a space before or after 'AND' in the widget? This would be invisible and screw up the match.

Unknown said...

I wanted only the TWL list, so I deleted the sowpods word list, but it still says "SOWPODS" on startup. How can I change that?

It is using the right word list, though, because I checked by putting in a SOWPODS word, and it came back red.

The main thing I need to know how to fix is that the bottom third of the words are cut off in the text field. How can I make the text field bigger?

Thanks, Mickmaster

Neil Cochrane said...

Hi Michael,
I haven't looked at this widget for a while. Have you opened the widget and Dashcode and taken a look?
If not it'd be a great way to get into doing a little light software coding!
Why do you want to delete the SOWPODS list?

Anonymous said...

this widget sucks big time!! it's no where close to being a scrabble. it's a joke! i think there is a lack of good word game widgets. Hope someone comes up with one soon...

Neil Cochrane said...

Ha, are you serious?

It's a Scrabble dictionary.

Anonymous said...

There is also a cool scrabble anagram widget you can add to your site with javascript I use too for my site.

Anonymous said...

Hi Keilly, your Word Finder widget no longer works properly with Mac OS X 10.8, the drop down window doesn't come down anymore. Also it is in need of updating to the Collins or CSW 2012 dictionary (the new SOWPODS). As an expert Scrabble Player I constantly use this app to see what I missed in my Scrabble racks, and I'd appreciate it if you could update it. The new CSW12 word list can be exported using freeware like Zyzzyva.