The Input Panel writing pad works well for a few sentences, but writing on the same line over and over is not how we really handwrite messages. The Write Anywhere feature essentially turns most of the tablet screen into a transparent writing pad. This is a powerful feature, but it can be confusing because it appears that you’re writing directly on a document, as you can with Windows Journal and Microsoft Office XP with the Office XP Pack for Tablet PC. You’re not. Write Anywhere is a version of the Input Panel writing pad and is still a method for text entry when the keyboard is not accessible or convenient.
To use Write Anywhere, first open the document in which you want to place text. Next open Input Panel, and tap the Write Anywhere
When you tap the Write Anywhere button, a Write Anywhere information dialog box appears. Tap OK, and the Write Anywhere boundaries appear on the screen as shown in Figure 2-13, where Write Anywhere is open on top of a new message in Microsoft Outlook Express.
There are three important items to note in this figure:
The writing area does not extend to the edges of the screen. Only handwriting drawn within the bounded area is translated to text. Pen actions outside the area are interpreted as mouse commands. This division keeps menus, the taskbar, and open and close boxes free of the writing area for easy access. You can still control the mouse under the transparent writing area, but it’s a bit trickier.
Input Panel should be docked and hidden at the bottom of the screen. This is not required, but it’s a good way to start out when using Write Anywhere. If the writing pad of Input Panel is visible under the Write Anywhere transparency and you write over the actual Input Panel writing pad, the writing pad overrides Write Anywhere. The result can be confusing and is best avoided until you get comfortable with Write Anywhere. Either hiding or docking Input Panel will avoid the problem. I prefer to do both.
The cursor is ready at the point in the document where the text should go. It doesn’t matter where on the writing area you write, the text will insert at the cursor in the order you wrote it. To place the cursor in a different position, tap that point on the screen. If you are placing the cursor somewhere under the writing area transparency, it should be a firm tap you hold for a moment so that the system knows it’s a tap (mouse action) and not a period (handwriting).
Once the writing area transparency is open and the cursor is in place, you can begin writing. As shown in Figure 2-14, wherever you start writing, a black line appears to help you write horizontally across the screen. You do not need to write on the line, but the recognition is better if your handwriting does not wander all over the screen. As with the writing pad on Input Panel, there’s an adjustable delay before the ink disappears and the text appears in the document.
When you’re using the Input Panel writing pad, you must specify each Enter, extra Space, and Tab. If you do not, the system will put all your text together no matter how you organize it on the screen. You can send these commands using the same gestures as with the writing pad, but the entire writing area transparency must be clear of ink. Because the ink tends to persist longer in Write Anywhere, this isn’t always convenient. Another method is to open the quick keys pad from the Input Panel title bar while Write Anywhere is still open. You can tap an Enter, Tab, or other key on the quick keys pad without waiting for the ink to disappear; however, as soon as you tap a key all the ink currently in the writing area will be immediately converted to text. Figure 2-15 and Figure 2-16 show how the system would ignore text organization (new lines, tabs, and so on) and how it could be corrected.
Selecting an entire paragraph with Write Anywhere open is simple if you start the selection on the edge of the screen, outside the writing area. Press down with the pen at the beginning of the selection, and drag the pen over the text you want selected. To select text underneath the transparency, press and hold on a point under the writing transparency. The transparency temporarily vanishes and remains absent as long as you keep holding. Without lifting the pen, you may now drag the pen over the text you want selected. As soon as you lift the pen the transparency reappears, but the text remains selected. You must either disable the Press And Hold For Right-Click option or set a long pause before the shortcut menu appears for this to work; otherwise, you’ll get a shortcut menu instead of a selection. If you use the Press And Hold For Right-Click option, it’s usually easier to close Write Anywhere for a moment, select the text you want, open Write Anywhere again, and continue. Because the writing transparency opens and closes instantly, this hardly disturbs your work.
When you reach the bottom of the writing area, you may continue writing at the top in the empty space, as shown in Figure 2-17. The text will enter your document in the same order you wrote it, regardless of where you wrote it or what is below the transparency. The text at the top of Figure 2-17 was written last and will appear at the end of the sentence.
Write Anywhere is a tool you will probably either love or hate. If you use Write Anywhere regularly, here are a few tips to keep things running smoothly:
Hide or dock Input Panel while Write Anywhere is open. If your pen enters the Input Panel window, it will interrupt your writing.
Tear off the quick keys pad from Input Panel so that it is available as you write. Be careful not to write on top of the quick keys pad, as the keys will respond and interrupt your writing. See “Setting Input Panel Options” later in this chapter for information on how to add the Quick Keys button on the Input Panel title bar, which allows you to tear off the quick keys pad.
If the writing transparency is free of ink, a gesture is even faster than tapping a key on the quick keys pad.
Remember to tap or gesture an Enter command at the end of each paragraph.
Adjust the speed of the automatic insert so that it converts the ink as fast as possible without disturbing your writing. Write Anywhere is a drag if you must wait for the ink to disappear.
Closing the Write Anywhere transparency will immediately convert the ink into text and send it to the cursor, similar to the Send button on the writing pad.
Switching to a different program while there is still ink in Write Anywhere will cause that ink to appear in the new program or be lost entirely.