Anagrams 2.3, by Andrew Trevorrow
Posted: 25-Mar-2003

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Andrew Trevorrow Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Doug Parker Class: GAMES
     
$20   Download

Anagrams is deceptively simple tool: type in some words, click a button, and make other words. If there's one thing I could convince all readers to do, it would be to read or skim the online manual - until you do, you'll never appreciate its well-thought out, useful features.

Anagrams has only two buttons, Find Usable Words and Find Anagrams. In its simplest usage, typing in some words and clicking the Find Usable Words button will spew out a list of up to thousands of words that can be made from letter combinations from the words you supplied. The next button, Find Anagrams, scours the usable word list to generate word combinations from the same letters you typed using each letter once. Let's try an example.

In the input field, I entered the name

Bill Catambay

Clicking the Find Usable Words button, I'm given 88 usable words, including

a, ably, ... balmy, baltic, ... lilac, lilt, ... etc.

Clicking the Find Anagrams button, I'm presented a list of 454 anagrams from my original input, including

a balmy baltic,
ail bat cymbal,
etc.

For the wordsmiths in the crowd, here's where Anagrams shines. Nonsense words in the original usable words list can be command-clicked and they'll be temporarily be dropped from the list, making for a more juicy final anagram list. Also, shift-clicking words in the usable words list will force those words to appear in the final anagram list. Sometimes, though, your selections might end up creating an empty anagram list.

So continuing with the example, I used Command-F to search the usable word list for the word

mac

and it was quickly found. Selecting the word mac and clicking the Find Anagrams button, I was presented a list of 34 anagrams. This was still too many, so I scanned the usable word list and found the word

all

and shift-clicked it as well. Now I had two words highlighted. Anagrams would now make anagrams which were required to contain those two highlighted words. This time, clicking the Find Anagrams button provided 6 anagrams, one of which made perfect sense to me:

Mac it all, baby!

Anagrams' Tree function gives you another way to take charge and guide Anagrams through its paces while you choose words to string together into sentences. Sometimes you use all the letters available, but most times you won't. It's a great mind bender.

Favorite input strings can be saved in a Hot Text archive for quick entry, although typing it in is just as fast. I think Hot Text is provided as a way of reminding you which input phrases or names gave you the biggest laugh.

The standard Anagrams installation provides three word lists, one list with 39,237 words, a second with 4,586 proper names, and a simple word list with 1,763 words. Adding and removing words from Anagrams' word lists is as easy as copy and paste. Additional foreign language word lists are available to registered users.

Additionally, you can type ESC or COMMAND-PERIOD to cancel searches at any time. Drag and drop is supported, so you can quickly drag results into your word processor. The background color can be customized to your liking. Online help is adequate and clear, and it runs in both OS9 and OSX.

The only irritation I had with the program was that the tabs in the scroll bars (thumbs) aren't sized correctly. Scrolling is awkward and lags at times. Some highlighting errors occurred when selecting words while using the Tree feature.

Summary
Anagrams packs a lot of power under it's simple interface. Be sure to at least skim the instructions - that's when it really gets addicting. For bibliophiles in the group as well as for others, it's a really pleasant distraction and oftentimes a good laugh. You can even think of it as an adjunct to your daily crossword puzzle as you challenge yourself to create words from other words without leaving any leftover letters at the end of the game. The screen is nicely laid out, it's quick, and the tree function gives users an alternate way of finding those hidden messages within messages. There's very little wrong with the program.

Pros

  • Speedy
  • Thorough
  • Fun!

Cons

  • Scroll bars don't follow user interface guidelines

Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice