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Special Words User Guide - Settings

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Access the Settings

To find the settings, tap the Actions button at the top right in the Word List, and then tap the Settings button. Using the Actions button also provices access to managing profiles, and exporting and importing data: these additional facilities are explained in Chapter 6.

Special Words Plus settings

Note: When you tap the Actions 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

    Adjust to suit your child's ability and concentration.

Advancing to Next Page

  • Automatic

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.

  • Loop

If Automatic is ON, and Loop is ON, then on completing the last page, the app will loop back to the first page. If Automatic is OFF, then Loop has no effect except with switch control, where it causes pressing Switch 3 after completing the last page to loop back to the first 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 use 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 on the cards in the activities and in the Word List. By default, the Special Letters font included with Special Words is used. The app also includes the OpenDyslexic font, designed to increase readability for users with dyslexia, and the and Inter font, which is also intended to be easy to read. You can also choose any other font that is provided as standard on the device.

    Additional font files you may have installed on the device will not be available to Special Words. However, you can install font files into the app by using the + button at the top right in Settings > Font and selecting a .otf, .ttf or .woff file you have on your device, or by dragging one of these on to the Actions page (with Settings closed). It is not currently possible to use .woff2 files.

  • Capital Letters

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

  • Large Text

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

Using Sound

  • 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.

  • Text To Speech

    When this is ON, then the device's text-to-speech (TTS) engine will be used to synthesize audio for any words with no recorded sound. This applies to words that were added while Record New Sounds was OFF, and to words in imported word lists that did not include sound. Refer to our FAQs for further information about sound, including TTS. This setting is on by default.

Other Options​

  • Enable 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.

    This sets the lock to activity padlock to be closed by default, and disables the Edit, + and Action buttons in the Word List view. It also disables the Export Word List, Import Word List and Reset buttons in the Actions view, and prevents profiles being edited.

  • Enable 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.

  • 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 arrangement. 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.

  • 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.

You can find out more about printing in Chapter 10.

  • Switches

    You can use Bluetooth and USB switches with Special Words Plus. Use this setting if you want to use your device with 1, 2 or 3 Bluetooth switches: change the number of switches here as appropriate. For information on how to configure the app for use with these, and to watch a demonstration video, please refer to Chapter 11.

  • 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.

Whenever you tap the Actions button in the 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. To lock the user temporarily into any app on iOS devices, we recommend making use of Apple's built-in Guided Access facility.

This feature can be turned OFF. We recommend doing this if downloading multiple resources at once to speed up the process.


When first using Special Words Plus on a particular device you will be asked for the email address and product key associated with your Special iApps Membership. 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 on the Actions page 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.


Tapping the Reset button on the Actions page 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, or log you out.
  • 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 Words Plus since you installed it on the device, and delete all your content. 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 erase contents and settings, 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.

Other Device Settings

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

Using with External Keyboards

Special Words Plus supports dual control using an external Bluetooth or USB keyboard, or the device's built-in hardware keyboard. There are no specific settings to enable or configure this, but from the keyboard you can quickly change many of the settings above, without leaving the current activity. Chapter 12 explains this in detail.

Further Help

You can access this by tapping Help in the top right of the Actions page. This presents the user guide for the app from the Special iApps website.

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