Review – Online Army Knife 1.3

Online Army Knife 1.3
By Randy Brandt & Ross Lambert
Company: JEM Software
Estimated Price: $69.95

There are spell checkers and then there are Spell Checkers. Online Army Knife is one of those Spell Checkers that you should really consider for purchase and use on your Mac.

OAK, as it is commonly known, is a shareware product that handles both interactive (lets you know you made a mistake as you type) and in-context (scans its way through your selected article or file, letting you know when it finds a problem and gives you possible corrections) checking of your documents, as well as a batch-mode capability that will list the misspelled words that it has found in your chosen selection, again listing possible corrections.

A Control Panel and an application, OAK presents an 8-button floating window that allows you to pick what you want to do, quickly and easily. Spelling checks can be done from the clipboard or from a file, or batch checking (this is where OAK really shines) can be done by pressing Command-Shift-V. Place an alias of OAK in your Startup Items folder and it will be there waiting for you to use it. Use the Glossary to create 2 or 3 letter “shortcuts” so that you don’t have to type those repetitive phrases or e-mail addresses anymore. The Grammar Scan is another extremely useful tool for those who aren’t too sure if the proper word is their or there, its or it’s.

But OAK doesn’t stop there; it contains additional tools that are just waiting for you to use. JEM Software’s use of the graphic of a Swiss Army knife is very appropriate; for just like the famous knife, OAK has a multitude of hidden features. You’ll also find a grammar check and dictionary, a CrossWord Wizard for those of you with a puzzle addiction, TextEdit Plus and StuffIt Expander (which you can delete if you already have them, found in the Additions folder), MemoEdit – a text editor, an Encryption program , a Key Saver program (saves your keystrokes to a file, enabling you to save your text in the event of a crash), a Glossary, a User dictionary, a Net Addresses URL/e-mail storage file, UltraLaunch (a program to let you schedule the “launching” of applications, singly or with documents and even assign hot keys for each app), as well as a complete tutorial folder to help you on your way when you first get started. Using OAK’s separate graphic application, you can also display graphic files (GIF, PICT, or JPEG stills and QuickTime movies) and then by using the separate sound application, load and play System 7 sounds, as well as convert and play .wav, snd and .aiff files. Additionally, OAK contains LogRoller?, a drag-and-drop application for processing text files, especially those created from online sources. With AOL, for example, it strips both the “opening log” and “closing log” messages, so words which were split between two log files become intact again. LogRoller is also able to auto-launch the text editor that you’ve designated, so that new lengthy file you just created is automatically loaded and ready for your viewing.

For those of you into the Web or e-mail, (I figure there may be a few of you out there) you might really enjoy OAK’s capability of storing URLs in an editable, separate dictionary. The Internet dictionary file can check URLs and Internet e-mail addresses when you select the Internet option in the Preferences file, checking address against those stored in the file. If it’s a new address, it’s added to a list of unknowns, letting you check later or if you want, you’re taken straight to the URL Finder window. Double-click on a “http” address and you’re taken to your browser. Double-click on an e-mail address and you can create a new e-mail message in your e-mail application.

For those of you used to simple click-once installations, OAK’s installer may not be what you’re normally used to, but just follow the instructions and you’ll be up and running quickly enough. Yes, it will permit you to “custom install” the application, and if you already have StuffIt Expander or one of the other Additions, you can leave them out. Besides the easy-to-use tutorials, OAK also comes with a complete printed manual, for those of you that still enjoy reading real books. Now, while some of you may not like the easy-going style it’s written in, I personally found it more enjoyable then the normal bland and boring manuals.

OAK has taken everything that I have thrown at it: drafts of articles, issues, letters, e-mail messages, old projects to see if it could find errors (which it did), even documents where I made specific errors in spelling, grammar and even line spacing. OAK proved itself to be very quick, thorough and easy-to-use. Now is it 100% effective? No, but it sure did better then some of the other checkers I tried at the same time. I don’t think that we will ever see a spell checker system that is 100% effective, but Online Army Knife is the one closest to that objective that I’ve seen available in either shareware or commercial versions. For those of you still not sure, I highly recommend that you go online to JEM Software’s Website at and download the 7-day trial version. I don’t think you’ll go back to another product after you try it out.

Now to pricing… Online Army Knife is available for $69.95. SpellCatcher owners can save $20 with a competitive upgrade (just send in the cover of the SpellCatcher manual with your order) and you’ll pay $49.95. Owners of Spelling Coach Pro, Spellswell and Thunder 7 can save $10 with a competitive upgrade. For what you’ll receive from JEM Software, and for the ease, speed and capabilities of Online Army Knife, you may just want to consider it as a worthwhile investment for you and your Mac.

Russ Walkowich (

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