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Special Stories User Guide - Settings

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Access the Settings

To find the settings in web-based and native iOS editions, tap its Actions button at the top left in the main view, and then tap the Settings button. Using the Actions button also provides access to managing collections, printing, exporting and importing stories: these additional facilities are explained in Chapter 9.

The settings in the native Android editions can be accessed from the menu button in the main view, and will look similar to those shown here.

stx-settings.jpg     Special Stories - settings Android

Some settings are only available in Special Stories Plus. Where the are differences below, we will highlight these with (+) next to them

Note: When you tap the Actions or menu button, you will have to open the Child Safety Gate in order to proceed. This is explained in more detail below.

Animation Speed

  • Animation Speed

    This sets the speed at which pages are turned, if you set them to be turned automatically.

Advancing to Next Page

  • Automatic

    Set Automatic to ON to make the next page in the story appear automatically, after the spoken words for the previous page have played (with a delay determined by the Animation Speed setting).

  • Swipe Left or Right

Set Swipe Left or Right to ON to allow swiping to the left to turn to the next page, and swiping to the right to turn to the previous page. Available in version 2.7.0 and later on iOS and 1.4.0 or later on Android).

Setting either of these to ON also hides the backward and forward arrow buttons on each page.


  • Theme (+)

By default, Default is selected and will use the theme of your device, be that light or dark mode. If you would like to only change the appearance of Special Words Plus, but keep the rest of your device the same, you can choose between Light or Dark ;in this setting. Tap which one you would like to use then < Settings, and the app will display the new theme.

  • Language (+)

Default will automatically be selected within the app and will use the language your device is set to use. To switch between languages in Special Words Plus, select the language you would like to use then tap < Settings and the app's interface will change to use your desired language. Alternatively, to change the language for all apps, set a different language in your device's settings.

  • Font

    You can change the font used to display the text in stories. By default, the Special Letters ont included with Special Stories is used. The app also includes the OpenDyslexic font, designed to increase readability for users with dyslexia. You can also choose any other font that is installed on the device.

    Starting with iOS 7.0, you can also install additional TrueType (.ttf) or OpenType (.otf) font files on the device and use these. If you have additional fonts you wish to install, we suggest using the AnyFont app to do this, and recommend that you use TrueType fonts (OpenType fonts may not display as intended in stories when printed or if emailed as a PDF file).

    Note: To see this setting, you must view the settings from within Special Stories, not from Apple's Settings app.

  • Alignment

    By default, the text on each page in a story is centred under the picture, and this is usually the best option for single words or short phrases. However, if you are using longer sentences, you may prefer to have the text left-justified (or right-justified for languages that read right-to-left).

    Note: To see this setting, you must view the settings from within Special Stories, not from Apple's Settings app.

    On Android: This setting was added to Special Stories in version 1.7.0.

  • Large Text

    This is ON by default, causing the text for each story's pages to be displayed in a large font size, suitable for those with early or limited reading skills or vision impairment. Turning it OFF uses a smaller font size, so that longer sentences will fit on each page. This setting applies to printing as well as on screen viewing. If there is too much text to fit on the screen, you can use 2 fingers to scroll the text up and down, however the text that's not initially visible will not be visible at all on a paper printout or PDF copy of the story.

Using Sound

  • Turning Pages

    When this is ON, the spoken words for each page are played when the page appears. Turn this OFF if you prefer to read the written words before hearing the sounds. If both this and Automatic are ON, all taps are ignored, and the pages are turned automatically, with the spoken words for each page played as soon as it is displayed.

  • Tapping Pictures

    When this is ON, the spoken words for each page are played whenever the picture on the page is tapped. If you turn this OFF, tapping the picture will have no effect. If this and Automatic are both ON, but Turning Pages is OFF, then tapping the picture on a page plays the associated spoken words and then moves to the next page.

    If both Turning Pages and Tapping Pictures are OFF, but Automatic is ON, then all taps are ignored, the pages are turned automatically (with a delay determined by the Animation Speed setting), but no sounds are played.

The different combinations of the above 4 settings, and how you can use them, are summarised in the table below:

Page TurningAutomaticSwipeTurning PagesTapping Pictures
by tapping arrow buttonsOFFOFFOFF or ONOFF or ON
by swiping left and rightOFF or ONONOFF or ONOFF or ON
by tapping pictureONOFFOFFON
automatic with soundONOFFONignored
automatic without soundONOFFOFFOFF

On web-based and native iOS editions with Automatic set to ON, then if the Lock to Story padlock is closed (as explained in Chapter 4), the story goes back to the first page and starts again after the last page, otherwise it stops at the last page.

  • Record New Sounds

    When this is ON, you can record spoken words for each new page you add. If you turn it OFF, the sound recording and play buttons don't appear, and you can only add the text and picture for each page. 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 you want sound on some pages but not others, leave this setting ON, and tap the No Sound button when adding a new page where you don't want sound.

  • Text To Speech

    When this is ON, then the device's text-to-speech (TTS) engine will be used to synthesize audio for any pages with no recorded sound. This applies to pages that were added while Record New Sounds was OFF or using No Sound and to pages in imported stories that did not include sound. Refer to our FAQs for further information about sound, including TTS. This setting is on by default in web-based editions, but off by default in native editions.

Other Options

  • Enable Editing

    Turn this OFF to prevent accidental changes to all stories, especially if you have left your child to read on their own. This then disables editing and rearranging existing stories and adding new ones. It also disables most of the buttons in the Extra Actions view on web-based and native iOS editions. On Android it removes the Sharing and Reset options from the main view, and prevents collections from being edited (see Chapter 9).

  • Paper Size (+)

Special Words Plus allows you to print Picture Cards, Word Cards and Assessment Sheets. You can select from a range of commonly used paper sizes to print on. For Picture Cards and Word Cards the font, text size and number of cards per page are taken from the current settings. In your device's print dialogue make sure you set the same paper size. 

Find out more about printing in Chapter 12.

  • Child Safety Gate

The child safety gate (also sometimes called a parental gate, parental lock or parental control) is designed to protect children against navigating out of the app and visiting websites with unsuitable content, etc. On iOs, an option to disable the gate completely was removed from the app's settings at version 3.1.2, in order to comply with Apple's guidelines.

In web-based and native editions, whenever you tap the Actions button in the Word List, or in native Android editions when you select the Settings, Sharing 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 =

In this case, the answer would be 10. Note: The gate cannot prevent the child from leaving the app by pressing the device's home button and then opening another app. On iOS, to lock the user temporarily into any app, we recommend making use of Apple's built-in Guided Access facility.

Other Settings in the Device's Settings App

If you want to use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to transfer pictures and sounds between copies of Special Stories on two devices, you will need to have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled. See the next page for more details.


When first using Special Stories Plus on a particular device you will be asked to login with an email address and product key. By doing this, you effectively login to the app. You will not need to do this again unless you don't use the app for a long time (typically 30 days), in which case you may be automatically logged out.

Depending on your individual product licence, you may be entitled to use the app on more than one device, with the same product key. The maximum number of devices is referred to as your quota, and you can only be logged in on up to this number of devices.

You can use the Logout button to log out of a particular device. This will not delete your content from the app on that device, but you will not be able to access it until you login again.


Special Stories Plus

Tapping the Reset button will present you with three options Reset Settings, Flush Cache and Erase Contents and Settings.

  • Reset Settings: this option can be particularly useful when working with multiple children as you can tap Reset Settings to quickly return the app to its default settings. All the app's settings will revert to their default values. This will not delete any content from the app.
  • Flush Cache: The app caches images and pages to maximise performance. In rare cases, the cached copies may become out of date, in which case flushing the cache will resolve any issues. This will not affect your content. Please note: this is different from flushing your Internet browser's cache - doing that may in some cases delete your content from the app, and so we recommend avoiding this.

  • Erase Contents and Settings: this will undo all changes you have made to Special Stories Plus since you installed it on the device, and delete all your content. This includes undoing any modifications you made to a story, 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.

Native Editions

In the native editions of Special Stories, you will only be presented with the option to Reset the app. This is the same as the Erase Contents and Settings option above, and you can follow the same steps.

Product Registration (native editions only)

In the native editions only, 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 resources from the free online library at Special iApps, as described in Chapter 6. In web-based editions, these downloads are available without this registration step.

For native editions, 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, if necessary. For help, watch the video below or refer to our FAQ.

Special Stories - iPad invert colours

The following options are available only on iOS devices

If you have an iPad, there is a Multitasking Gestures toggle switch in the General section of the Settings app, and we suggest you switch it off when using Special Stories. Otherwise, if your child puts several fingers on the screen, they can inadvertently make the app disappear from view.

On an iPad or iPhone running iOS 11 or later, Special Stories supports the use of the device's Smart Invert Colours option, where the text is white, the buttons orange, and the background black, as shown on the right. This can be helpful for those with vision impairment and other disabilities.

To enable Smart Invert Colours on a device running iOS 11, open Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Invert Colours in the General section of the Settings app, and turn on Smart Invert (not Classic Invert).

If you set Smart Invert as the device's Accessibility Shortcut (at the bottom of the Accessibility section in Settings), you can toggle this feature on and off by triple-clicking the Home button.

To change the language in which Special Stories shows its user interface and quick start guide, change the language in the device's Settings, under General > Language & Region. If you select a language not supported by Special Stories, English will be used.

If the language is not selectable as iPad Language or iPhone language (this currently applies to Albanian), set it as the preferred language in Other Languages... instead.

Using with Switches

You can use Bluetooth switches with Special Stories. For information on how to configure the app for use with these, please refer to Chapter 13

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