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Why Pleco?


Alex Smith
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In pleco, you can handwrite the chinese character you are looking for. It is definitely niche for some users as they prefer using the camera. I might be mistaking as I don't know if Oxford has a handwriting search system.

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I've never used Oxford Chinese dictionary app so I won't try to compare but these are just a few reasons why I like Pleco:

- Compares entries from multiple dictionaries

- Lots of example sentences on most entries

- Chinese - English , English - Chinese 

- Includes a lot of common sayings, idioms and slangs

- It has lots of other useful add ons like readers and flashcards 

- Has lots of other niche, specialised and comprehensive dictionary add ons 

- Includes traditional and simplified characters

- User friendly

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Pleco is loaded with features, most of which I hardly ever (or never) use. This isn't a complaint, just my own usage habits and maybe laziness. Despite this I still purchased the full package with all features and dictionaries, and haven't once regretted it. 

 

Really, all I use is the handwriting input and dictionary part. I will say that it's very very rare to find a word or "set phrase" that isn't in Pleco (including lines from well known works and poems), and that alone makes it worth the purchase. I'm not sure how much of this is available in the base dictionaries. 

 

Pleco has only become more useful as my Chinese improves. There are even dictionaries with defintions in Chinese once you get to that point.

 

Anki integration is another big bonus which I used in the past but laziness got in the way of.

 

Pleco is updated regularly and has never once crashed for me. I would say if you are serious about learning Chinese then Pleco with all the bells and whistles is work considering.

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OCR! 

 

Live OCR for when you're in a hurry or out and about.

 

Long-press shortcut on the icon and choose "OCR Latest Screenshot" when you're trying to use an APP that's only in Chinese.

 

Also, long-press > shortcut "Clipboard reader" to lookup what's on the clipboard (which, if you're using an iOS device and a Mac, can be on the Mac's clipboard which still seems like magic to me...)

 

Built-in flashcards.  Easily save flashcards.

 

Document reader that can lookup words in PDF, EPUB, HTML files etc

 

Outlier etymological dictionary.

 

 

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I will add the importance of flashcards, once you become familiar how it works, it is a real good tool and you can test yourself. Excellent memory practice

and very useful for vocabulary learning. The add-ons are great too for reading or looking up words. I highly recommend it.

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Pleco is an absolute beast of an app, far richer in features and content than any other Chinese dictionary app on the market. It's also massively customizable, with many different add-ons and settings you can play around with.

 

The free version is fine for casual learners, but it really comes into its own when you add some of the paid add-ons. It's really nice to have a selection of Chinese-Chinese, Chinese-English, and English-Chinese dictionaries all in one place. Then there are also more specialized options, such as chengyu dictionaries, Cantonese dictionaries, and the Outlier character etymology dictionary. The OCR is decent, though I rarely use it these days.

 

The clip reader/file reader is also a standout feature, super useful for looking up unfamiliar words on the fly. You can even download content for it (graded readers) as more paid add-ons.

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Also worth noting I bought it 8 years ago on an android phone. I have not had to pay any monthly fees or anything and am still using it extensively on my Apple phone and tablet. Great support as well whenever I have questions or run into problems. AAAAAND it can be used offline which is crucial for study sessions when I use airplane mode for minimum distractions. All of these great aspects that are beyond the already mentioned features have been crucial to a smooth user experience. 
 

You can do without Pleco but the features get parsed into 3-5 other less user-friendly apps. 
 

if you’re serious about learning Chinese, get the professional bundle and spend a day messing around with settings and reading about features. 

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The OCR function is the must-have feature for me.  It helped so much when I was in the hospital, to read the medical reports.  I tried using translate apps and they fail on the highly technical language. Garbled meanings or unclear phrases. With OCR, you can take apart every sentence into its component words and assemble the meaning yourself.  You can see each word's meaning exactly, or look it up on Baidu to see what it is.  

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  • 3 months later...
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In my opinion, PLECO is the only software out there today that is absolutely essential for anyone seriously studying Chinese as a second language.  The free version already does a lot, but the add-ons (multiple dictionaries including the indispensable Outlier Linguistics Dictionary (expert version), stroke order diagrams with animation, audio pronunciation, document reader, graded readers and move) make this the single most powerful tool available today.  Plus PLECO's support and user forum are amazing.

 

I'm not affiliated with PLECO in any way, I just have found this dictionary with all its add-ons one of the best values in Chinese learning products.  The free version is great and gives you a good idea of the power of the program, but the additional value in the add-ons far exceeds the one-time cost!  You'll never regret getting PLECO!

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  • 3 months later...

Pleco works perfectly when offline.

Pleco has a Cantonese dictionary (very important for me).

It is an excellent GENERAL PURPOSE dictionary and has served me well for years. It's hard to find some highly technical terms in there related to various fields, but it's fantastic for general use.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Copying-and-Pasting from a Mac to an App on an iPhone

 

To help me translate subtitles of Chinese TV dramas, I’ve been looking into ways to copy-and-paste from my Mac to the Pleco Chinese Dictionary app on my iPhone. It turns out that Apple devices have had a “Universal Clipboard” feature for a long time. (I don’t keep up with the times, lol.) It allows copying-and-pasting between Apple devices. (It’s one of the many “Continuity” features. It's part of the "Apple Ecosystem.") The instructions to set up the Universal Clipboard are at the link below.

 

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209460

 

To copy-and-paste from the Mac to the Pleco app on the iPhone, first copy Chinese text on the Mac. In the Pleco app, click on the keyboard icon at the bottom. Then, the clipboard icon appears a little higher up. Click on it to complete the pasting process.

 

I did this on an M1 Mac and iPhone 8. But it should work on other Macs and iPhones that support the Universal Clipboard feature.

 

Running an Android App on a Computer

 

Even better, I found a way to run an Android app on a computer. It should work on any M1 Mac, older Mac, Windows, etc. that runs the Android Studio software. Android Studio is free software that developers of Android apps use. It includes the ability to emulate Android devices and test apps on them.

 

Again, it’s Pleco that I’m looking to run on my Mac. This time, it’s the Android version. I wasn’t able to find all the step-by-step instructions in one place on the internet, so here are the steps I took. It actually really isn’t very hard to do. It’s just a little different.

 

1.          Download and install Android Studio from https://developer.android.com/studio/install.

2.          Open Android Studio.

3.          In the File menu, select New, then select New Project…

4.          The default is Empty Activity, which is good. Click the Next button.

5.          You can change the name of the project. I chose “AndroidEmulator.” Lower down in the same screen, you can select the Minimum SDK. Since I’m not developing software for a bunch of different Android devices and I only want to emulate a newer Android device on my Mac, I selected one of the newest: API: 31 Android 12.0 (S). Click the Finish button.

6.          In the upper right corner, there’s an icon for Device Manager. It looks like a smart phone. Click it.

7.          In the Device Manager portion on the right side of the Android Studio window, slightly lower down in the Device Manager portion, there’s a button for Create device. Click it.

8.          Select a recent Android device. You may prefer one that connects to the Google Play Store. I selected a Phone: Pixel 4. It’s the latest that connects to the Google Play Store. Click the Next button.

9.          Select a recent system. I selected S (API Level 31, Android 12.0) to go along with the phone I picked. This involves downloading the system image. After that’s done, click the Next button.

10.       In the next window that appears, the default suggestions looked good to me. So, I just clicked the Finish button.

11.       Android Studio goes back to the window with the Device Manager portion (on the right side). In the Device Manager portion, the newly created device will be highlighted. Click the green triangle next to it to launch the device in the emulator.

12.       The phone shows up in the bottom part of the Device Manager portion. (Going forward, if you close the phone and later need to re-open it, here’s what to look for. In the bottom-right corner of the Device Manager portion, there’s a smart-phone icon with the word “Emulator” below it and written sideways. Click it to re-open the phone.)

13.       Slightly above the phone and to the right, there’s a gear icon. Click it. In the drop-down menu that appears, select View Mode, then select Window.

14.       The phone appears in its own window. I re-size it to be much larger. (I minimize the main Android Studio window, because I don’t need it to be open anymore.)

15.       In the phone, use the Google Play Store app to download the Pleco Chinese Dictionary app. Or, go to https://www.pleco.com/ and click the button for Download Android APK. Then, drag-and-drop the downloaded file onto the phone.

 

Tablet Version

 

16.       Android Studio can also emulate a tablet. The same Android Studio project can have multiple devices. So go back to the Device Manager window. Click the button for Create device. Go through the rest of the steps. (By the way, the APK file downloaded from https://www.pleco.com/ is the exact same file for a phone and a tablet.)

 

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  • 3 months later...

@mikelove This is no pressure at all at all. But, can I ask what the latest very, very rough timeline for the release of Pleco for Mac is? Is it next year? My own Chinese learning project is early on, so I'm planning ahead for adding Pleco for Mac to my routine. I'm one of those people who work very comfortably on a personal computer and not so comfortably on a smart phone. I have very much been looking forward to buying the package with many dictionaries in it. I've set aside US$100 for it for quite a while now. If push-comes-to-shove, I'll go with the iPhone package, while still waiting for the Mac version to be released and still willing pay extra for the Mac version.

 

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On 6/23/2022 at 1:51 PM, MTH123 said:

This is no pressure at all at all. But, can I ask what the latest very, very rough timeline for the release of Pleco for Mac is? Is it next year?


Sorry, but I've gotten this wrong too many times to even give you a guess. It legitimately could be out this year, but given my past track record at guessing release dates it could also be out in 2030 🙂

 

For purchase planning purposes - and this applies to everything with new Pleco updates in general - my standard answer is that you should buy our current app if you think that our current app is a worthwhile purchase, and not factor 4.0 or Mac or anything else into your planning at all; we absolutely do not want anybody giving us money in anticipation of something we haven't finished yet.

 

I can say that it is pretty unlikely that you would have to purchase Pleco again from scratch to use it on Mac - it's basically only something we'd do if we were forced to. There'll almost certainly be some sort of fee, and what subset if any of add-ons would have to be re-purchased to use on Mac remains to be seen, but it's very unlikely you'd get zero credit for your existing iOS purchase when you moved to Mac.

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@mikelove That's great to hear. Okay, I won't worry about when I purchase Pleco. Then, I'll purchase it sooner rather than later.

 

By the way, I'm sure countless people have already told you this. I'd also like to add to the pile of people who have done this. What you've done to build up such a multi-dimensional helpful resource from the ground up is incredible. You deserve all the success you've achieved and then some!

 

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