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Special Words User Guide - Settings

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Settings in Special Words

The settings for Special Words can be accessed from the main menu in the Word List view, and will look similar to those shown here.

  • Animation speed

    Adjust to suit your child's ability and concentration.

  • Advancing to next page

    Set Automatic to ON to make the next page of cards appear automatically as soon as you have matched all the ones on the current page.

  • Play before match

    When this is ON, the word for each matching card is spoken when it appears. This can help children who are just starting to use the activities, or who are struggling with picture matching. Once you have moved on to matching words to pictures or pictures to words, you may want to turn it OFF: otherwise the sound may provide too much help, so you're not testing your child's visual recognition of words at all.

  • Play after match

    Turn this OFF if you don't want each word spoken after it is matched.

  • Record new sounds

    When this is ON, you must record a sound for each new word you add, before you can save your changes. If you turn it off, the sound recording and play buttons don't appear, and you only need to add the text and picture for each word you add. If you don't want to use sounds at all (e.g. for a child who is profoundly deaf), turn off all 3 sound settings.

    If your device doesn't have a microphone, you must turn this option OFF, otherwise you will not be able to add new words and pictures.

  • Font

    You can change the font used to display the text on the cards in the activities and in the Word List view. By default, the Special Letters font included with Special Words is used. The app also includes two OpenDyslexic fonts, designed to increase readability for users with dyslexia, and you can select these here, as well as the standard Android Sans Serif and Serif fonts.

  • Capital letters

    If you turn this ON, the text on the cards and in the Word List view will be displayed in CAPITAL LETTERS.

  • Large Text

If you turn this ON, the text on the cards will be 50% larger. This setting is only available in version 3.3.0 and later. Regardless of this setting, if text for any particular card is too long, it will be automatically shrunk to fit as one line.

  • Editing

Turn this OFF to prevent accidental changes to the words, especially if you have added your own words and have left your child to play on their own. It then disables adding, deleting and reordering words in the Word List, removes the Sharing and Reset options from the main menu in the Word List view, and prevents profiles from being edited.

  • Reward

By default, after each page of cards is matched, the cards wiggle back and forward and an applause sound is played, as a reward for completing the page. Turn OFF if you want to disable rewards.

  • Child safety gate

The child safety gate (also sometimes called a parental gate, parental lock or parental control) is designed to prevent children inadvertently changing the settings, importing or exporting content, or opening websites from the app. The gate was added to Special Words in version 3.3.0.

The gate is enabled by default, so that whenever you select the SettingsSharing or Help from the main menu in Word List, you are required to enter the answer to a calculation to continue, for example:

9 - 3 + 4 =

You can disable the gate, so that access to these activities is unrestricted, other than by the Editing setting above. To do this, turn this switch OFF. You will at that point be presented with one last calculation to perform, in order to confirm your intention. You can re-visit this setting and turn the switch back ON to re-enable the gate.

Note: The gate cannot prevent the child from leaving the app by pressing the device's home button and then opening another app.

  • Shuffle cards

    When this is Off (the default), the baseboard cards for each page are always placed in the same order: the first in the Word List at the top left, the second at the top right, the third at the bottom left and the fourth at the bottom right. To make it harder to cheat by remembering the positions, switch this to Page or All: the baseboard cards will then be placed in a random order each time, as if shuffled. The Page option only shuffles the cards within each page, whereas the All option also shuffles between pages.

    The shuffling between pages happens when you start an activity, then as long as you stay in that activity, the cards on each page stay the same (but are shuffled within each page each time you turn to that page). If you select a different activity, or look at the Word List and return to the original activity, all the cards are shuffled again.

  • Cards Per Page

    By default, each page in an activity presents 4 baseboard cards, in a rectangular arangement. You can use this setting to work instead with 1, 2, 3, 6 or 8 baseboard cards. Reducing the number of cards is usually helpful for younger children or those new to the app. It also increases the size of the cards, which may benefit the visually impaired.

    With 3 baseboard cards or less, these are laid out side-by-side in the upper half of the screen, except in portrait orientation with 3 cards, where they form a vertical column in the right-hand half of the screen.

    If Shuffle Cards is set to All, changing cards per page causes each activity to rewind to its first page. Otherwise, each activity's current page is set so that the first card visible before the change was made is still visible afterwards.

  • Product Registration

    In version 3.4.0 and later, there is an additional Registration option at the bottom of the settings screen. By registering, you are then able to download a number of additional lists of words from the free online library at Special iApps, as described in Chapter 6.  Registration is only available for devices running Android 4.4 or later.

    You register the app once, using your email address, and receive a product key, which you can use to activate on up to 5 devices. Only activated devices have access to the online library.

    If you haven't registered and activated directly from the app's settings, you will be prompted to do so the first time you download a word list. For help, refer to our FAQ.


There is a Reset option in the main menu when viewing the Word List. This will undo all changes you have made to Special Words since you installed it on the device. This includes undoing any modifications you made to the set of original words, pictures and sounds, removing any you have added, and restoring the app's settings to their default values. If you have added additional profiles, they are all removed. You cannot undo this once you've done it.

After confirming that you wish to reset the app, you have to reconfirm by typing the word “Reset” into the box that appears. This is to reduce the chances of a child resetting the app unintentionally. To further prevent accidental use of the Reset button, turn the Editing option off in the Settings, as described above.

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