Handwriting Tips for Newton Power Users

Handwriting Tips for Newton Power Users

Tips for optimal character recognition for Newton 2.0

These tips are also available in Adobe Acrobat format.



There has been a lot of talk on the net about this hidden gesture which will insert a . The gesture is a backwards "L". To make the gesture draw your line down and then to the left in one stroke. See the red gesture below.


The manauls tells you about the caret (^) gesture to insert a space and the ^--- gesture to insert lots of spaces. There is an opposite gesture in NOS 2.0-- the inverted caret (v).
If you want to join a letter to a word for example "car s" you simply draw a small "V" just below the bottoms of the two characters that you want to join. Then Wizzo, they will join right up. This is great since there is no easy way to do this except to use the delete key on the caret. And that is a pain since it is tough to place the caret right after the space. - Dan Frumkin


You can enter text much more efficiently if you make judicious use of the autoexpand feature. For instance, if you define the string "bul" to expand into "< return >< opt-8 >< space >" (option-8 is the bullet character ), then you can write without stopping the text "groceries: bul eggs bul milk" and it will be recognized as:

To get to the user words and autoexpansions dictionary, first tap the keyboard iconat the bottom of the screen, then tap the dictionary iconon the bottom left corner of the onscreen keyboard. (Another way to enter words into the autoexpansion dictionary is with Expasion.pkg by Catamount Software)

Here are some useful autoexpansions:
ret -> < return >
bul -> < return > < opt-8 > < space >
ind -> < return > followed by three spaces. (stands for "indent")
ind2 -> < return > followed by six spaces.
pp -> < return > < return > < three spaces > (new paragraph)
cr -> < return > (carriage return)
sig -> my multi-line signature, including returns
addr -> my full address
hdr -> a letterhead (stands for "header")
Expansions can be used to enter words with accents or enter accented letters saving you the steps of opening the keyboard. You could write "Munich" and it would expand to "München" or you could write "M uu nchen" and it would expand to "M ü nchen" and you can remove the spaces. You must enter the phrases to expand as separate words so the Printed recognizer knows to expand them.
Munich -> München
garcon -> garçon
ea -> é
eg -> è
eh -> ê
uu -> ü
aa -> á
Newton OS 2.1 does recognize accented characters correctly so the above trick is only needed on NOS 2.0.


The "Printed" recognizer is extremely good at telling characters apart if you give it enough to go on. But sometimes a tiny change in the way you write can have a big impact on those last few errors by making it easier for the Newton to tell one of your characters from another.

In the past, some Newton users have used a program called "Graffiti" which requires that you change your entire alphabet to get good recognition. With the new printed recognizer this is not necessary, but for best results you may still want to tweak your writing style a bit. Here are some suggested tweaks if you are having problems:

Examples of unambiguous text:


This is also in the manual, but as few of us like to read 300+ page manuals we'll just hilite it here.
Another tip, is if you want to correct one letter just write over it. But if you write more then one, the "word" gets inserted at the caret. - Dan Frumkin


If you choose to write in printed upper and lower case but use the Paragraph (cursive/connected) recognizer, you may have a problem with letters turning into numbers. Some of the above suggestions will help with this problem, as will this additional suggestions:


If you normally write using block printed letters, the "printed" recognizer can read this, but will interpret what you write as being all in capitals. If your capitals are larger than, but otherwise identical to, your small letters, use the "Cursive" recognizer and you will get the mixed-case results that you desire.

MessagePad 2000

If you want to let a stranger write on your MessagePad 2000 make sure you set the MP2000 to the Paragraph (cursive/connected) recognizer. I still use the "Printed" recognizer on the MP2000, but for beginners the Paragraph recongizer will do a better job and you won't have to tell the user to print.

Easter Eggs

Set your Newton to the "Printed" then write "Rosetta!" three times in a row!!!
This document is a collection colloboration of tips from various sources.
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(last modified : July 9, 1998)