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Welcome - How to echo text fields - Spell Checking - Special formatting - Colours - Trouble shooting - Password fields - Html format with editable body - Working with the clipboard - Search and Replace with Wild Words etc - Search and Replace all files in a folder - Make Web Site forwarding Mirror - Splash Screen - Purchase


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Thankyou for installing Text Echo. This program has tool tip help - those tips that pop up to say what a field or control does. Some end ... (three dot ellipsis) to indicate that there is more help available. You can bring up the window where the extra help appears with F1 or Help | Tool Tips Extra Help. So be sure to look there to find out how to use particular things in TFE.

Since the options are explained in the tool tip help then this intro will give an overview of the whole program, explain a few special things that one may need to know, and introduce the way the program works.

There are several ways of using it. One way is as a Text Echo (hence its name of course). You can use it to echo small text fields in web pages or other programs. This can help by providing more space for the text, or to let you use a larger or preferred font or colours. It can also be used to spell check the text in a form before you submit it.

You can set it to sit in your tray from the Options window - and to start with windows - and it will echo everything all the time. Then, whenever you want more space to edit a web page form field or other small text field, just click on its icon in the tray to bring it up. For more about this way of using it see How to echo text fields.

Another way you can use it is as a text and rich text editor. One place where it is particularly useful is for working with source code and html source because of its capabilities for searching and replacing text in all the files in a folder. See Search and Replace all files in a folder. It can also be used for editing batch files - a useful feature there is the Ctrl + B shortcut which will execute the batch file you are currently editing.

It is a rich text format editor too - you can use varied fonts and colours and so forth in the same document. If you want to save these formatting changes, be sure to save in the rich text format. At present it can't read or save in the .doc format but the documents in the .rtf format can also be used in Word, Wordpad etc. You can also use the text colouring and font options to change the font you use to view plain text files in TFE. You vary the colour and fonts in the Options window.

It is also useful for everyone for its unique search and replace features. You can also simultaneously replace up to three phrases at once - and you can set it to synchronise the case so that for instance if you replace "ash" by "oak" everywhere in the documents, it will replace "ash" by "oak", "Ash" by "Oak" and "ASH" by "OAK". It also has a unique wild words search and replace which is an easy non techy way of working with searches for fragmentary words and phrases. See the Search and Replace

The spell checking is done using the free open source spell checker Aspell which you need to install first- along with one of its dictionaries. See Spell Checking .

You can also use it to make a web site forwarding mirror - as a special feature useful to some. See Make Web Site forwarding Mirror .


How to echo text fields

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You use it with File | Echo Text Fields etc selected for this option. This echoes the text fields as plain text only - if you want to preserve fonts, font sizes and colours, then try the clipboard method instead - see Working with the clipboard. Also even with text fields, it doesn't work with all programs. See Trouble shooting for the reasons why some text fields may not echo. Again you can use the clipboard method instead if it doesn't work.

It is a matter for experiment at first as there is quite an amount of variability in how different programs work with TFE. It works with a number of common tasks such as filling in forms in small text fields in web pages. Anyway let's explain how it works and you can try it out and see how it goes for your particular task.

Click on a text field in a web page or another program. Then see if it gets echoed in the text echo window.

Then, to edit the echo, you need to select Options | Edit original via Echo .To use this option you need to purchase TFE, or start the test drive - it isn't available for freeware users (though in freeware mode, you can switch to file edit mode to edit the echo text after it has been echoed).

Most fields that can be echoed can also be edited directly within TFE. Now and again you may come across a field that can be echoed, but won't let another program put the edited text back into the original program that it came from. You just have to try and see what happens. See Trouble shooting again for techy details.

You can switch to custom sync from the Echo Opts window. In auto sync mode, the echo shows whatever text field you are currently working with. This means the one with the keyboard focus - the one that currently responds to keyboard input or keyboard navigation. ..

In custom sync mode, you can synchronise any number of fields together. You do it using special hot keys to synchronise or unsychronise the field.

To use custom sync mode, click on each text field you want to synchronise in turn, and use these hot keys:

Shift + Pause to add the text field as a new sync.
Alt + Pause to remove it.
Alt + Shift + Pause to return to auto sync mode.

So for instance,to add a field in a web form, click on that text field, and then press Shift + Pause . Note - you press that keyboard combination from within the text field - you don't go back to TFE at that point. It is a hot key that works throughout your windows system, and you need to press it while you are within the field so that TFE knows which field you wish to add.

If these Pause hot keys are already in use for something else, not to worry, as you can change the key to use from the Options | Hot Key drop list.

The custom synchronisation for a web page lasts only as long as you show it. If you refresh a page in your browser, or navigate to a new one, then the synchronisation will normally be lost.

Documents may be synchronised for a longer period of time - when you open a new document, normally you find the new text remains synchronised - however, this may depend on your program. You can get to know how each of your programs works and how the synchronisation changes for each. Certainly you will lose the synchronisation if you close the other program and then start it up again.

The program doesn't attempt to remember synchronisations with text fields you had open in previous sessions. When you close TFE then your custom synchronisations get forgotten at that point, and you need to re-instate them when you start it up again.


Spell Checking

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Intro - Hot keys - Spell checking via clipboard (Word, Word Pad etc.) - Clipboard trouble shooting - Aspell trouble shooting


To use the spell checking feature, you need to download and install the free Aspell utility.

Get the full installer from the Aspell W32 page and install it first. Then get whichever dictionary you want to use from the same page and install that

Now in Text Echo show the Spelling window and you can use the buttons there to spell check the echo. There is a small and large form of this window - to change between them click on the << or >> button at top left. If you have a long document with near perfect spelling, the spell check may take a while (it isn't particularly speedy at present) so hold down the escape key should you want to stop the spell check.

For various spelling options see Options | Spell Opts . Here you can also specify the language to use for spell checking, using its standard ISO 639 language codes and ISO 3166 two letter country codes with a dash between, e.g. EN-GB for UK english, and EN-US for US english. Of course you need to have downloaded the appropriate dictionary, in this case the English one.

The freeware version of Text Echo lets you spell check normal documents that you open in the program or text you copy from the clipboard. Those who purchase it or start the test drive can also use the hot keys, or synchronise TFE with a text field in another program to spell check it.

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Hot keys

You can use these if you purchase the program, or during the test drive. These are Windows wide, so they let you spell check directly from another app with a few key presses.

The preset hot keys use Ctrl + Shift + a key as that combination is rarely used and also easy to type for many as the Crl and Shift keys are above each other..

Use Ctrl + Shift + S to start the spell check - you will see the selection moving in the echo (to keep an eye on the echo, you could place the echo below or to one side of the document you are working with).

If it comes across an unrecognised word then it will show the list of suggestions. You can work with these remotely too using the hot keys. E.g. Ctrl + Shift + R to replace the selection with the highlighted suggestion. Ctrl + Shift + 1 to 9 then 0 (10) to select one of the suggestions remotely. Ctrl + Shift + I to ignore, Ctrl + Shift + G to ignore all.

You don't need to remember these hot keys. To see the list of them all at any time show the hot keys window which you can do using Ctrl + Shift + H . You can also use this window to change the hot keys to any other key combination you may find more suitable.

Use Ctrl + Shift + S to continue the spell check to the next word.

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Spell checking via the clipboard

This is useful for documents that can't echo to TFE directly, such as Word documents. You can also use it for rich edit programs such as Word Pad to show the text in TFE in rich edit format - this means you can show it with several fonts in the same document.

Switch to Echo Clipboard from the File Menu in TFE .

Copy the text to the clipboard in the usual way in Word, or Word Pad etc (e.g.Ctrl + C). Ctrl + Shift + S as usual to start the spell check. Continue as before using hot keys, or working in TFE, as convenient. Then paste back when done (e.g. Ctrl + V) .

A natural question is - since Word already has a spell checker why would one want to spell check them via Aspell like this. Well Aspell is a leading edge spell checker - so you may find that Aspell has some advantages over Word . Word has the advantage that it also will check grammar, and will also warn you (as non standard grammar) if you use variant spellings such as "ain't". Aspell is particularly good at recognising typos, and suggesting good replacements for typos and badly spelt words. It is also good for rare words and proper names. You may want to use either or both depending on the document.

With Aspell it is also particularly easy to add words to your personal dictionary, also you can add new replacement words too for the suggestions list that pops up for a word. It all depends on the dictionary and as it is an open source on-going project, you can also join in and suggest new words for the Aspell dictionary compilers..

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Clipboard copy Trouble shooting:

If you see extra things in the pasted text such as \par and lots of extra brackets, then this is probably because the receiving field doesn't recognise the rich text format. So try copying the text from the echo as plain text instead.

To get TFE to copy its text in text format go to Options and unselect Copy / paste Rich Edits in RTF format.

You can also right click on a selection in TFE and copy it to the clipboard - and you will find a choice of RTF or plain text format there.

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Aspell trouble shooting

When the spell checker is running you will see the Aspell console minimized. This is so that you can see that it is running. If you restore it you will see that its screen is blank because all the input and output is done via TFE. To see what is going on there, go to Spelling | Aspell in TFE which will show every command as it gets sent to Aspell, and all the responses as they happen. This will also let you enter Aspell commands directly - you can look these up in the help for Aspell and so it may be useful for some advanced work.

If you prefer to hide Aspell, select Options | Hide Aspell .

TFE works by piping various commands to Aspell - it does this using the pipe command recognised by Aspell:
aspell.exe pipe .

TFE finds the location of Aspelll from the registry. Should you want to choose between multiple installations of Aspell, then you can make a file called " Aspell.txt " in your Text Filed Echo folder consisting of a single line showing where to find it on your computer.

e.g. c:\Program Files\Aspell\bin\aspell.exe

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Special formatting

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Note that in echo mode, Text Echo works with plain text only. Any special formatting or fonts in the original text gets lost when you echo it.

You can set Text Echo to show a nice font in its main window. The screen shot on the download page for instance uses Black Chancery. You can also set the font size and colours - all from the Options window. In fact you can also open rich text documents that use mixed fonts and colours etc into the echo. However this doesn't affect the way it gets shown in the original text field. The text gets synchronised between the windows as plain text only at present, even if both fields are capable of showing mixed fonts and colours.

The special formatting does however get saved if you save your document from TFE. Be sure to save in Rich Text format if you want to save the formatting. Saves in plain text format will lose any special formatting.

If you want to work with documents in rich text format, then you need to use File | Echo Clipboard instead. See Working with the clipboard



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To change colours click on the colour patch and then on the colour wheel. This shows the hue - pure colour - around the edge of a standard colour wheel. This consists of the rainbow colours of the spectrum, with purple added to close the circle around from blue back to red.

To make it more intense or more washed out and pale use the saturation bar, which mixes white in with the pure colour, and to make it darker or lighter use the brightness bar. Use the drop list of colour names at the top to find named colours, for instance, browns are dark reds or oranges. You get greys, white or black if you set the saturation level to zero.

You can also show a colour disk, clover or rectangle. The disk shows the colours shading to white at the centre, so saturation varies radially. The rectangle shows hue horizontally and saturation vertically - you are probably familiar with this from the conventional colour chooser dialog in windows. With all of these, you click to choose the hue and saturation, then use the brightness bar to adjust the lightness or darkness. The clover is just included for fun, with saturation again varying radially.

The colours around the colour wheel consist of the three primary colours of light for monitors - red green and blue, and the three primary colours of ink for colour printers - green, cyan and magenta. If you are interested to know a bit about this choice of primary colours for the devices, I've done a page about it: Computer Primary Colours - background info


Trouble shooting

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If nothing gets echoed, and you want to know why it doesn't work, take a look at the techy details in the Window class field.

If this shows " Edit " or " RichEdit " or " RichEdit20A " then it should echo fine, and be editable.

Note that the echo is limited to 64 KB for these edit type classes. That's a limitation of the method used to get the text from the text field (the WM_GET_TEXT method), so this isn't suitable for really large documents. You will get a warning message if you try to use TFE to echo a document which is too large for it. You can edit larger documents in TFE itself, or via the clipboard, but you can't echo them directly.

Web pages in Internet Explorer and other apps that use the IE engine to show pages also echo fine - these show up with the Window class as " Internet Explorer_Server ". The input fields in other web browsers may echo fine, depending on how they are implemented.

Then other fields may also echo - but what you see is very variable. A program which shows text could use any method to present it, including drawing the font glyphs all as graphics and presenting you with an image. If it does that then there is little one can do - unless the programmer has made special provision for the text to be echoed in response to requests from other programs to get the text.

Sometimes programmers do make provision for the text to be echoed as well. At other times, the field may have some text anyway even if the programmer hasn't particularly intended it to be echoed, but often in that case it is just a descriptive phrase to describe what the field does rather than any actual text within the field.

Often you get nothing at all - just a blank line because the window has no text associated with it. You can use TFE to edit that blank line and add text to the description of the text field, but it won't be used by the other program probably, because it won't be expecting it to get changed. When the other program exits, the text for that window will just get lost.

Actually all this is often not so much the responsibility of the programmers of the other program itself, but rather the original programmers of the various controls or widgets that it uses.

Some drop lists with editable entries may behave unexpecedly at times in TFE. If you edit the echo, your change may be temporary, possibly so short term that when you switch back to the other program then your change vanishes immediately. With other lists, TFE may show just a single entry, or maybe more likely, none at all, or just the first character of each entry.

Some lists show up with SysTray32 as the window class - this is quite a common style, and applies to the files lists of Windows Explorer for instance (the program that shows the lists of files on your computer). TFE can't show these entries.

In this last case I think one may need to use a rather advanced technique to get the data - quite possible but I'm not sure if it is worth the effort. Perhaps I may give it a go some day for fun. I gather from tutorials on related subjects that it probably involves making a new (tiny) dll on the fly as your program is running, and then hooking your new dll with the other program while it is running. Using the simplest approach of just interrogating these fields directly to get the text using the particular methods you need to get text from a SysTray32 window doesn't work (causes an access violation in the other app).


Password Fields

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Text Echo won't echo password fields. This is by design - it could, but I have chosen not to make that available as a feature.

However one should be aware that there are other programs which are able to look behind the asterisks of a password field. If you have forgotten your password and have it cached on your computer, you can use such a program to recover it, which is a legitimate use of such programs indeed - this is commonly done (it is rather easier in Windows 95 / 98 than in Windows NT / 2K / XP but can be done in those operating systems too).

So, those asterisks that you see are there mainly to deter other users of the machine from seeing the password as you enter it. I think that is the main purpose. They are of absolutely no use at all as a secure way of hiding the passwords from other users of the machine when you aren't there. Well they will work with non techy users but not with techy users.

If you really need to keep your password secret, then the best way to hide your passwords from other users of the same computer is to be sure to never select the option to remember your password in future. Instead, if you are using a shared machine and don't want your password to be available to other techy users of the machine, simply be sure that you re-enter the password into every form every time you need to use it, and don't select the option to remember it.


Html format with editable body

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This is something you may encounter, for instance in Outlook Express. The editable e-mails are actually shown to you in a html format, even if you have them set up to be sent in plain text format. Though sent as plain text, Outlook Express shows them to you in the form of a web page formatted to look like plain text. This means that if you want to edit it from an external program like this one, you need to edit the entire body of the e-mail. For safety reasons this type of editing is switched off in Text Echo.

If you really need to, you can edit such documents, but it is only recommended if you are moderately techy, and it might not be entirely safe to do. If you want to do it despite these warnings, select Options | Allow body to be edited... . As far as I can tell, this works fine with Outlook Express, but I wouldn't like to guarantee that it will always work - you would have to ask the original OE programmers about that!

If you do the same thing with other programs which present text in web page format then it is possible that they might crash with an access violation. The thing is that programs wouldn't necessarily expect an outside program to edit the body of a web page, so it might throw out their calculations, e.g. of the size of the page etc. I wouldn't recommend this..

If you are moderately techy or indeed even if not techy, but not too phased by an access violation then go ahead and give it a go - worst that can happen probably is that you lose your editing when the program crashes. This feature is included because some techy users may find it useful on rare occasions.

You can choose whether to echo the html as html or as plain text in the Options window - if you edit it as plain text then you see it echoed as plain text with all the tags removed. So, naturally all the formatting gets lost in the original page when it gets returned from the echo. If you echo it as html then you see all the tags in TFE and as you edit those you will see the original web page change accordingly - at least you do if the browser responds to the commands FTS sends it to change the html it is showing.

This works in Internet Explorer for instance. You could use it to edit any web page that you are currently viewing in IE and change its appearance in any way that you like, if moderately techy and familiar with HTML tags.

But again I wouldn't like to guarantee that it wouldn't cause an access violation ever - don't know if the programmers of IE would have taken account of the possibility that another program might do such a thing as this - it is a bit unorthodox. Technically changing the body of a html page shown in another program is quite a legitimate thing for a program to do - it uses normal Windows calls, and doesn't do anything underhand like injecting executable code into the other program's code space. So in theory a robust program should be able to respond to that I think, but it isn't the sort of thing one would design for, or test when testing your program.


Working with the Clipboard

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This is particularly useful for documents shown in Word and some other programs which TFE can't echo directly. It is also useful if you want to edit the text in TFE using Rich Text format - with all the colours and the fonts and font sizes. It is also useful if you want to edit the current selection only.

You can't echo documents shown in Word or edit these in Text Echo. That's beause the windows which show your document don't respond to the standard windows message to get or set the window text. Quite a few other programs show documents in their own custom ways and don't respond to this request - in which case again TFE can't do anything with them.

However you can still use them via the clipboard. In TFE select File | Echo Clipboard . Then in Word just copy the text to the clipboard and it will immediately appear in TFE. You can then edit it, do search and replace, or spell check etc in TFE, then paste it back to Word when finished.

You might wonder why anyone would want to do this as Word has a good spell checker of its own, and search and replace too.

Yes indeed, however, some may have an affection for Aspell and want to use it to spell check Word documents - it is a leading edge open source spell checker with special capabilities of its own. This is a way to make it easier for Aspell users to work with Word documents. See

You may also want to use the TFE wild words search and replace with text from Word documents.


Search and Replace with Wild Words etc

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Text Echo has a unique search and replace option using wild words and letters. See Edit | Search and Replace .

Since this is an innovation, you probably haven't come across it before. To briefly explain how it works:

You can choose any characters as wild word characters. The preset wild word characters are *@ and #.

These match any word or part of a word.

So for instance, "the * * fox" will match "the quick brown fox" or any other occurrences of "the" and "fox" with two words in between.

You can use the wild words for search and replace as well as for searching.

If you want to preserve the original order of the words, just use *s for them all. To change the order, use more than one wild word character in the original and use them in the appropriate order in the replacement text

Example of preserving the order:

Replace: " the * * fox " by " the fox which was * and * "

This replaces " the quick brown fox " by "the fox which was quick and brown ".

Example of changing the order:

Replace: " the * @ fox " by " the fox which was @ and * "

This replaces " the quick brown fox " by "the fox which was brown and quick ".

Considering that you can also use this for parts of words as well as for whole words, and also for single letters with the wild letters, one can see that it is pretty flexible. You can set it to use any number of wild word characters up to the limit of the number of characters in a font (well, minus the ones you need for the search phrase and the replacement text).

The only thing you need to take care of obviously is that you can't use wild word characters as characters themselves in the text to find or the replacement text. If you want to search for an '*' then clearly you can't have '*' as a wild word character. But that restriction only applies to the search phrase itself. The wild word characters can occur anywhere in the text you search and can even get found within the wild words.

So fior instance, replace: " the * @ fox " by " the fox which was @ and * "

replaces " the quick br*wn fox " by "the fox which was br*wn and quick ". It is of no concern that there is an * in the original text in the word br*wn . You could even use any letter not in the phrase to find as a wild word character, though that isn't recommended because of possiblity of confusion. But replace: " the c @ fox " by " the fox which was @ and c " would actually work if you set c as a wild word character.

There are more flexible methods, particularly the use of so called "regular expressions". If you write perl scripts or are a techy searcher, you are probably aware of those. On the other hand wild characters are particularly easy to use, while regular expressions are decidedly "techy" and not so well suited to newbies.


Search and Replace all files in a folder

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You get to this from Edit | Find & Replace all Files in folder...

It can search rich text documents and text documents, but can't search Word documents. Plain text includes HTML source code and program source code, so it can be used to search and replace web pages source code too e.g. to change all instances of something throughout the web pages in a particular folder.

You can also set it to search sub-folders - for instance it is quite common to keeep a web site in an off-site copy that you upoad via FTP with many of the files in sub-folders of the main web site folder. If you work that way, you could browset to the main folder for the site, then set it to search sub-folders and you can then change something throughout your entire web site in that way. It will find folders within folders within folders as many times as is necessary to do.

Set what types of files you want to search in the Extensions field. For instance *.txt for text files only. You can use the buttons below to set it to search for Text etc (txt or rtf format), Html, or c-code.

The files get shown in the echo as the search continues. You can step through each word as it gets replaced by choosing Step Through in the Search and Replace page.

You get a confirmation message before each file is saved to check you want to save it. You can switch this off if desired from the dialog to search

It has options to automatically backup all the files after replacements are made, and to delete previous backups to the recycle bin so that if you replace something and don't like the result you can normally find the previous version either in the backup folder, or if it is an older version, it will be in your recycle bin (unless you have emptied that in the meanwhile of course).

You are recommended to keep this automatic backup process selected unless very short of disk space - these types of files normally don't take up much space.

Depending on your style of working and how often you may need to undo a change, you might want to unselect the option to backup to a backup folder - when selected, it makes a sub-folder called TFE - BACK (or whatever you choose to call it) with the backup of all the files as they were before the most recent search and replace.

That backup isn't needed if you are you happy to rely on restoring the files from the recycle bin instead to undo a change.


Make Web Site forwarding Mirror

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You get to this from Edit | Make Web Site Forwarding Mirror...

This is useful if you move an entire web site, as a direct mirror, and want to send visitors to the old site to the mirror files in the new site. The forwarding mirror consists of a mirror of all the web pages in the original site, and each page is set to redirect the user to the same page in the same location on the new site.

This again is meant for those who construct their web site off-line and upload it via ftp - if you work on-line you will need to make an off-line copy of the site first.

Then, you just browse to your off-site copy of the web site, and set it running, and it will make a forwaarding mirror for it. After uploading your site to its new location, you canupload the forwarding mirror to replace the web pages in the original site, and that's it done.


Splash Screen

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The splash screen shows for a certain number of seconds at the start of the session - or you can click on it to dismiss it. If you want to remove the splash screen completely, you need to purchase an unlock key or start the test drive. You also need to start the test drive to make the echo editable and to synchronise two or more fields with the echo. It is also needed for the multiple file search and replace. The unlock key also buys the other mini utilities - so far there is one other, Activity Timer , with more planned to follow later.

Be sure to try out my other programs at Robert Inventor's Programs .

The splash screen shows screen shots from some of my programs - Lissajous 3D which is a screen saver that shows swirly animated patterns, Virtual flower which you can use to make flowers and geometrical shapes and animations in 3D, and Fractal Tune Smithy which you can use to make new music in an effortless fashion as intricate as snowflakes - or you can use it to explore some of the wealth of interesting tunings and harmonies that have been developed in world music, or to make your own tunings. I will be adding more programs too from time to time.

For help contact Robert Walker, support@tunesmithy.co.uk


Purchase Text Echo

You buy all my mini utilities in one go. The ones included so far are: Activity Timer and Text Echo. Others may be added later on.

There are two order types for Text Echo. For the current prices, see the on-line version of this page or contact support@robertinventor.com

Individual user and Home Use. Purchase all of Robert Inventor's mini utilities- for home or personal use only.

Commercial license, You need this to purchase the mini utilities for use by an organisation. It allows use of them on any number of computers belonging to your organisation, and any number of users.


If you know what order type you would like and wish to buy on-line:

secure order form - except for first page of order process as it has no sensitive information on it Buy now - Secure order (opens in new window)

If you are interested in my other programs, note the new Three for Two offer - Buy any two of my main programs Tune Smithy , Virtual Flower , or Lissajous 3D and get all three and my mini utilities as well.

If you need further information, read on.

These prices cover all future additions to the mini utilities package - you never need to buy it again.

To find out more, with answers to common questions and other order methods - see the Purchase page