Writing

Voice Dream Writer can give you voice feedback as you type. At the end of a word, Writer will speak the word you just entered, and after finishing a sentence by entering a period, question mark, etc., Writer will speak the entire sentence. If you use dictation, you’ll hear the entire text you dictated when you are done. You have the option to turn this off from the Audio Settings menu. Sentence and dictation read-back use the current Proofreading style. See Proofreading section later for details.

You can use the left and right arrow buttons at the bottom toolbar to move the cursor left or right through word boundaries. Also, tap on the name of the document in the toolbar at the top to edit it.

If you are using a bluetooth keyboard, there are many shortcuts available. These shortcuts are listed at the end of this document. Notice in particular that command-T can hide all toolbars to create an even cleaner screen with no distractions.

Formatting

Voice Dream Writer supports a subset of Markdown, a quick way to format the text in your document on a mobile device without any of the complications of a full-blown Word Processor. Supported Markdown syntax includes:

  • Headings. Use the pound symbol, or number sign, at the beginning of a paragraph for Headings. Number of “#” symbols represent the heading level. These acts as markers that allow you to navigate the document easily using the Outline. When you export as a Word, HTML, or Rich Text Format (RTF) files, these become styled as headings.

  • Lists. Use a minus sign at the beginning of a paragraph for a bulleted list, and a number followed by a period and a space for a numbered list. If you’ll ultimately export the document to Word, HTML or RTF format, don’t worry about keeping the numbers in sequence because they will be generated automatically in the right order later.

  • Italics. Surround a word or phrase with 1 asterisk to italicize it.

  • Bold. Surround a word or phrase with 2 asterisks to bold it.

Outline

To navigate through your writing quickly, you can use the Outline at the left. You can tap on the gray right arrow to show the outline. Tapping it again would hide the outline. You can also show the outline by swiping right with 3 fingers, and hide the outline by swiping left with 3 fingers. If you prefer the swiping gesture, you can hide the arrow buttons in Settings-Advanced Settings to reduce clutter.

The outline is created and maintained automatically from your writing, which is broken down to sections, paragraphs and sentences. If you tap on a row in the outline, you’ll hear the entire text of the paragraph or sentence. You can disable this by switching off “Speak On Tap in Outline” in Audio Settings.

The set of buttons at the top of the Outline let you decide how much detail you want to see by setting the lowest level. When “Paragraph” is selected, for example, you will only see paragraphs and headings, not sentences.

A common use of the Outline is to find a place in the text and then edit from there. When you find what your are looking for, you can either go to the Text Area or left swipe on the item in the Outline and choose “Edit Text”. The entire piece of text would be selected. You can then use the cursor arrows buttons move the cursor to the beginning or the end of the selected text and start editing.

You can move any item in the Outline to a different location in the document. Tap on the Edit button, and a dragging control would appear at the right of each row. When you drag a heading, it would move the entire section of text under the heading.

Word Finder

Word Finder is your writing companion that helps you find the right word. It has three modes: dictionary definition, phonetic search, and meaning search. Phonetic search returns similarly sounding words even if the word entered is misspelled. For example, enter “c-o-k-e-s” and you’ll find “coax”. Meaning search lets you find semantically related words from a word or phrase. For example, if you enter “baseball”, it’ll show all words related to baseball, like “bat” or “pitch”. Or, you can enter a phrase that describes the word you are looking for, like “precious stone”, and it’ll list “diamond”, “sapphire”, “ruby” etc.

Left swipe on a word reveals options to “Define”, which takes you to the dictionary definition of that word, or “Insert” which inserts the word at the cursor. A back button takes you back to the previous search. When you double tap on a word, that word will become the new search word.

Proofreading

There is a special button always available on the bottom bar: Proofread from cursor, which is like a Play button for audio. When you tap it, it’ll start proofreading from the beginning of the sentence that the cursor is on. And when you tap it again, it’ll stop reading and place the cursor at the end of the last word read. During proofreading, you can tap on any word on the screen and it’ll stop reading and place the cursor there. The rewind and fast forward buttons move the spoken word by sentences. You can also double tap on a word to start reading from there.

There are two proofreading styles: natural and detailed. Natural reading style mimics a person reading so that you can verify how your writing flows. On the other hand, detailed reading style give you as much feedback as possible so that mechanical mistakes in your writing are easily detected. Both styles can be further configured based on your preference.

Audio Settings is where you configure all the voice features of the app. You can use all the voices installed in Voice Dream Reader. However, you must update Voice Dream Reader to at least version 3.4.0 and run it once. The two apps also share a Pronunciation Dictionary.

If you choose to use an iOS voice, you can download enhanced versions of the voice. Go to iOS Settings, General, Accessibility, Speech, Voices, select your language, and then tap on “Enhanced Quality” to download enhancements.

At the moment, you need to use Voice Dream Reader to buy and download voices other than the built-in iOS voices.

Managing Files

When you run the app for the first time, you will have the option to enable iCloud. This is an all or nothing decision: either all your documents are stored in iCloud or none. If you decide to use iCloud, your documents will be synchronized across all your devices that have iCloud enabled. If not, all your files will be locally stored on a single device only.

A word of warning: iCloud has improved a lot since it was launched but it still has hiccups. This is especially true if your Internet connection is slow or unreliable. I suggest that if you have multiple Apple devices, you should enable iCloud, because its benefits outweigh its problems. Particularly if you run Yosemite on a Mac, which can see all the files in Voice Dream Writer. But be patient when issues arise. If you run into problems, restart the app. In the worst case, turn off iCloud Drive from iOS Settings entirely and turn it back on.

Also note that “Documents and Data” from iOS 7, the predecessor to iCloud Drive, is not supported. Please migrate to iCloud Drive, which you can do from iOS Settings, iCloud.

When you create a document, it will be saved locally in the Voice Dream Writer folder. And if you enabled iCloud, it’ll synched to iCloud in addition to saving locally so that if you don’t have internet connection, you can still work on it. Don’t worry about saving. Your edits are saved automatically.

You can import a plain text file from an external location. That file will be copied to the Voice Dream Writer folder. After you select an external location, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, the Dropbox app or Google Drive app on your device takes over and lets you select a file. If that file doesn’t exist locally, Dropbox or Google Drive will be responsible for downloading that file from the cloud. Because you copied it, when you edit that file, changes are made to the file in Voice Dream Writer only and will not be saved to the original location.

There’re several ways to export the text. You can copy the entire text to the clipboard so that you can paste it in another app. Or Send, for emailing or sending the text as an SMS message, or tweet, etc.

Open File In Another App makes a copy of the file and gives it to another app, like Mail or Pages. That app would take the copy and keep it from that point on. You can decide what format to use. Plain text without Markdown would eliminate the special Markdown characters like “#” or “*” used for formatting. Word, HTML, and RTF export keep the Markdown formatting.

You can Export the file to an external storage location, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or another iCloud folder. This is similar to import in that a copy is made and saved in the external location. When you edit the file in Voice Dream Writer in the future, the changes will not be saved to that external file.

To rename a file, swipe left on the file in the File Manager. On an iPad or landscape mode on an iPhone, you can also rename the currently open file by tapping the name of the document in the top toolbar.

Bluetooth Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Up down, or left right arrows: Previous or next search result or misspelled word

  • Option left and right arrows: Previous or next word

  • Option Up and down arrows: Previous or next paragraph

  • Command Left and right arrows: Start or end of the line (Also with Control)

  • Command Up and down arrows: Start or end of the document (Also with Control)

  • Shift up, down, left and right arrows: Select text from cursor

  • Command-Z: Undo

  • Shift-Command-Z: Redo

  • Command-X: Cut

  • Command-C: Copy

  • Command-V: Paste

  • Command-A: Select All

  • Command-F: Find

  • Command-W: Close File

  • Command-; (Semicolon): Spell Check

  • Play-Pause: Read from Cursor and Pause Reading

  • Command-T: Show or hide all toolbars

  • Command-1: Show or hide Outline

  • Command-0: Show or hide Word Finder

Gesture Shortcuts

  • 3-finger swipe left: Show Word Finder or hide Outline

  • 3-finger swipe right: Show Outline or hide Word Finder

  • Double tap on text: Start or stop reading from the tapped sentence in reading mode

  • Two-finger swipe up: increase proofreading speed in reading mode

  • Two-finger swipe down: decrease proofreading speed in reading mode

  • 3-finger swipe up or down: Go to the beginning or end of the document