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  • Penfriend-XP

    • World class word prediction, speech feedback, and on-screen keyboard for Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP.
    • Penfriend is a powerful word prediction tool that helps students who have spelling difficulties or dyslexia, or who are very slow keyboard users.
    • Penfriend software benefits users who have dyslexia, learning disability, a visual impairment or physical disablilities, including Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Stroke, limb deformities and any condition which impairs the ability to write with a keyboard.
    • Penfriend helps users to write faster by predicting the next word they want to type, allowing faster writing for longer tasks, promoting better spelling and grammar and encouraging users to overcome low self esteem and become more confident writers.
    • Features include powerful word prediction, on-screen keyboard, screen reading, lexicon editing and the ability to learn new words as you type. Adds word prediction, speech and an on-screen keyboard to almost any software.
    • It also reads out almost any text, such as web pages or word processed documents.  Penfriend NA predicts the word you are typing - one key press then finishes the word for you. It also learns the words you use frequently and recently.
    • This information is saved for each user, together with individual settings.

Getting Started with Penfriend

A significant benefit of Penfriend is that you can start using it without any prior knowledge – “it works straight out of the box” as one happy customer recently commented.
This tutorial explains how you can start improving spelling and grammar by simply starting Penfriend – without making any adjustments. This tutorial is the first in a series of Penfriend video screencasts and explains how to use and save lexicons.


  • Who can Penfriend benefit?

  • Physical Disabilities

    • Penfriend is the ideal tool to help people with Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Stroke, limb deformities and any condition where the physical effort of typing is difficult.
    • It speeds up writing by cutting down the number of keystrokes needed to write a document. The only comparison (Ch 14 p 164) between predictors we know of showed that Penfriend saved more keystrokes than any other program.
    • The on-screen keyboard may be the only means of writing using a mouse controlled by hand, head or foot
    • Abbreviation expansion speeds the typing of common phrases or text such as one's address.
    • Switch access provided through other programs such as the integration with Clicker enables to severely physically handicapped to write.
  • Word prediction

    • Word prediction is very valuable for those with dyslexia where recognising a correctly spelt word offered by the predictor is easier than thinking how to spell it in the first place.
    • Better spelling, grammar, thesaurus, dictionaries
    • Better spelling and grammar helps many but particularly those with dyslexia. Knowing that Penfriend provides correctly spelt words gives greater confidence.
    • The access provided by Penfriend XL to Microsoft Word's spell checking, thesaurus, dictionaries and translation is of great help to any with dyslexia.
  • Speech Feedback and Screen Reading

    • Another benefit of Penfriend for those with dyslexia is it's speech feedback and in Penfriend XL its screen reading features.
    • Being able to hear each letter, word or sentence vocalized as you type is of very obvious value to those with dyslexia, but Penfriend also allows you to highlight a block of text or an entire document and have it read back to you. This not only allows dyslexic people to understand the contents of a document they may not be able to read, but also helps them to associate the sound of a word with how it looks on the page.
  • On-screen keyboard

    • Penfriend's on-screen keyboard reduces the strain of glancing between screen and keyboard, a valuable tool for the dyslexic using a computer.
    • Faster writing of longer tasks
  • Visual Impairment

    • One can change the font size in Penfriend to make it easier for those with poor sight to see the predictions and controls in Penfriend.
    • When screen reading, open the clipboard in a convenient position, then everything read appears in the clipboard at the same position on the screen and in the font size being used in Penfriend.
  • Speed

    • Penfriend saves key-strokes by typing letters for you. This helps writers to get more on paper in the same time, and to write more before they get tired.
    • In a detailed academic study of supportive writing software by the CALL Centre, Penfriend was found to be the most effective word predictor. It saved around 65% of keystrokes (more than any other product), and predicted the correct word by the time the first letter had been typed in around 70% of cases (again, the best).
  • Screen Reading

    • Penfriend XL comes with a screen reading and text magnification facility, just click on the folders on your desktop or read web pages and hear them read with native voices. Speak the list of words offered by your word processor's thesaurus or spell checker.
    • The spoken text is transferred automatically to the clipboard where, if a large font is used, it can be magnified for those with visual impairment. There is an icon in the clipboard which allows you to switch the screen reading on and off at a single click.
    • The speech feedback facility in both Penfriend XL means that it also speaks back the text you are writing. It can be configured to speak each letter as it is typed, each word as it is completed, and each sentence. It can read words from the prediction list when you point at them, when you choose them, or automatically when they change. It can also read back whole paragraphs (or more) of text from other applications using the clipboard. This might be your document, a web page, an email, or almost anything else.
    • While speaking text from the clipboard, a window can be shown which follows the voice, highlighting each word as it goes. You can click on a word to hear it again, or to speak a fragment of the text. This can be used in conjunction with the screen reading to enlarge and highlight words being read from web pages or the desktop.
  • Spell checking, Thesaurus and Dictionary

    • The screen reader in Penfriend XL makes it possible to read and highlight alternative spellings, synonyms and dictionary meanings available in Microsoft Word. These can all be read out, and if necessary magnified,on a right click.Thus although it does not have a spell checker built in, it gives direct access to the excellent Spell Checking, Thesaurus and Dictionary available in MS Word.
  • Lexicon Editing and Topic Lexicons

  • Lexicon Editing

    • Penfriend doesn't claim to know all the words you want to write in advance, but it is very good at learning them. Every word you type is analysed, and Penfriend can learn those it doesn't recognise. Depending on your spelling, you might ask for new words to be predicted immediately (as appropriate), or perhaps just to be remembered and then checked by a teacher.
  • Lexicon Editing

    • Another feature is the ability to ban words. Thus risqué words, or words that a child should be able to spell can be banned, so that they are never predicted.
    • Penfriend holds new words in a specially marked list, so that you can easily review the ones it has learnt recently. There are various tools for manipulating these, such as approving only those used several times. This is also a useful tool for a teacher to see the spelling errors that a child is making.
    • As well as learning new words, Penfriend keeps track of the ones you've used, and your style of writing. This all helps to predict the right words next time!
  • Topic Lexicons

    • Often you want specific vocabulary for a particular topic. One of the major advantages of Penfriend is that it is very easy to teach it new words either from the clipboard or a text file. Thus if you have a document with the words you want to use in it, it takes seconds to teach the program these words. They can then either be kept for the future or used for that one session. It is your choice.
  • Word Prediction - Prediction Window

    • Penfriend word prediction software suggests words, as you type text into your preferred word processor or text editor.
    • Penfriend XL can predict the next word you want to write in so in many languages.
    • Penfriend is very good at guessing the word you are typing after you have entered one or two initial letters. One key press, or one mouse click on your chosen word in the prediction window, then completes the word for you.
    • Penfriend will then go on to predict the next complete word you want to type and it is almost always very successful in doing so. It is in fact possible to write an entire document simply by clicking on Penfriend's suggested words in the prediction window, after typing in only the first few letters.
    • One user commented that "This software is spookily good at prediction".
    • Penfriend's word prediction uses a dictionary of known words, along with detailed knowledge of when they are likely to be used and words you have used before. Every time you type a letter, it comes up with a new list of the most likely words which fit your letters. Choosing one is a simple matter of pressing one more button, or clicking on the word with the mouse. If you're not sure how to read it, you can hear it spoken before you choose a word. This is valuable for those who have physical disabilities or dyslexia. But it will also help those wanting to write in a language that they are learning.
    • Minimising the predictor window switches off prediction and all the assistive functions in Penfriend. Useful if you want to type an email address without spaces after the full stop, or type numbers whilst predicting using number keys.
  • On-screen Keyboard

    • Penfriend XL comes with keyboards for many languages where their colour and size and font size can be adjusted to suit the user. Anyone can type easily in a foreign language.
    • On-Screen Keyboard
    • The on-screen keyboards in XL (multi-language) versions of Penfriend will be particularly useful for people either with physical disabilities affecting their use of a keyboard, or for those with dyslexia by reducing the visual strain of glancing repeatedly between the screen and keyboard.
    • It is also useful to anyone wanting to type in a language that is different from the default language on the users computer. Typing French on a computer set up for use in the UK or German on a computer set up for use in France becomes simple with Penfriend XL's keyboards.
    • There are now additional characters such as €,[,],@,# available via the Alt key. And the English keyboard now has the accented characters used in Gaelic.

Penfriend Tutorials

Below is a comprehensive list of our step-by-step video tutorials and guides.
You can have Penfriend open and running alongside the video tutorials so you can learn how to get the most from Penfriend by starting and pausing the videos at your own pace.


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