Text Manipulation and Navigation

Caster provides powerful text manipulation and navigation features. These functions are experimental and subject to change (perhaps based on your feedback!). We encourage contributions; please discuss your ideas here. These commands are "CCR" and so are able to be combined with other CCR commands. Enable these commands by saying "Enable text manipulation".

Common elements

  • direction sauce (up), dunce (down), lease (left) or ross (right). Direction must be included for all commands.
  • number_of_lines_to_search is an integer number of lines to search for the target object. sauce/lease searches up and dunce/ross searches down. sauce/dunce defaults to 3 lines if omitted and lease/ross defaults to searching only the current line.
  • before_after can be before or after and indicates whether the cursor should stop to the left (before) or the right (after) of the target object. Defaults for before_after depend on which command is being used. For the "go" commands, before_after defaults to whichever one is closer to the cursor. More explicitly, for "go", ross/dunce defaults to before and lease/sauce defaults to after. By contrast, for the "grab until" and "remove until" commands it defaults to the one that is farther (i.e. it selects or removes all the way through the target object). More explicitly, for "grab/remove until", ross/dunce defaults to after and lease/sauce defaults to before.
  • occurrence_number can be first through ninth and indicates which occurrence of the target object you want, counting from the initial position of the cursor in the direction you specify. Defaults to first.
  • target_object can be a Caster alphabet element (arch, brov etc.), a Caster punctuation element (left prekris, deckle etc.), a digit prefixed by num (e.g. num 6 ), a sequence of up to three of the previous types of targets (sequences are currently only available for "go/move"), or arbitrary dictation (e.g. "punctuation element" spoken). For "go/move", if you wish to use the individual character targets in a CCR sequence with another character insertion (alphabet, punctuation, or digit) immediately following, you must terminate the command using "over" (see the examples).


  • Move the cursor: (go | move) <direction> [<number_of_lines_to_search>] [<before_after>] [<occurrence_number>] <target_object> [over]
  • Selecting a single element: grab <direction> [<number_of_lines_to_search>] [<occurrence_number>] <target_object>
  • Selecting from the cursor to a target: grab <direction> [<number_of_lines_to_search>] until [<before_after>] [<occurrence_number>] <target_object>
  • Deleting a single element: remove <direction> [<number_of_lines_to_search>] [<occurrence_number>] <target_object>
  • Deleting from the cursor to a target: remove <direction> [<number_of_lines_to_search>] until [<before_after>] [<occurrence_number>] <target_object>
    • This command will also remove a space immediately preceding the target object.
  • Replacing a single element: replace <direction> [<number_of_lines_to_search>] [<occurrence_number>] <target_object> with <replacement_object>
    • Note: <replacement_object> must be dictation if <target_object> is dictation and likewise for character targets. As in, you can't yet replace dictation with a Caster alphabet element.
  • Change capitalization of single element: capital <direction> [<number_of_lines_to_search>] [<occurrence_number>] [<letter_size>] <character>
    • only the 1st letter of the word has its case changed
    • letter_size defaults to uppercase


  • go ross before deckle
  • go ross before deckle char
  • go ross before deckle char over oscar
    • Moves the cursor before ":c" then inserts "o" before the ":".
  • go ross after second deckle
    • Moves the cursor after the second occurrence of ":" to the right of the cursor's original position.
  • grab sauce eight examples
    • Searches eight lines up and selects the first occurrence of the word "examples" above the cursor.
  • grab sauce eight until examples
    • Searches eight lines up and selects from the cursor to the first occurrence of the word "examples" above the cursor.
  • grab ross hello hug quotes
    • Selects the nearest occurrence of "hello" (to the right of the cursor on the current line) and surrounds it by quotes.
    • Note that hug quotes is a separate command not part of this module, but you can do this because these commands are CCR.
  • remove sauce eight examples
    • Searches eight lines up and deletes the first occurrence of the word "examples" above the cursor.
  • remove sauce eight until examples
    • Searches eight lines up and deletes from the cursor to the first occurrence of the word "examples" above the cursor.
  • replace lease num six with hotel
    • Replaces the nearest occurrence (to the left of the cursor) of the digit "6" with the letter "h".
  • capital dunce three second multiple
    • change the 2nd instance of the word "multiple" in the next 3 lines to "Multiple"
  • capital ross lower multiple
    • change the next instance of the word "Multiple" to "multiple"

Possible future features

Please feel free to try and implement these and submit a pull request!

  • Supporting Caster numbers as targets (e.g. go lease before numb one).
  • Selecting from one element to another element rather than having to move the cursor first (e.g. grab sauce twenty from third left prekris to second right prekris).
  • Replacing with Caster-formatted text (e.g. replace lease caster with gum caster).
  • Selecting with Caster-formatted text (e.g. grab lease tie caster).
  • Very powerful selection and replacement using Caster-style typing (e.g. replace lease tie caster minus gum style ace gum typing with tie caster minus laws formatted text).
  • Quick format switching (e.g. switch lease [format of] very powerful to snake).
  • Limit dictation recognition to only elements that are there. Currently, the voice recognition software provides its best guess at what you mean, rather than Caster limiting the options to what is in the selection.
  • Use line numbers as location limiters (e.g. go line one fifty nine third right prekris).

Known bugs/issues

  • Report bugs and discuss solutions here.
  • Occasionally, the names of characters are interpreted as dictation and thus not found by the program when searching over the selected text (e.g. "arch" is interpreted as the word "arch" instead of the a). One user reported such a problem with "comma". Here are some suggestions on how to handle this problem, but I do not have a full understanding of the cause of the problem. There's a little bit of discussion on this in the issue page starting here
  • In some applications, the keypress speed is slow such that the cursor takes a long time to move to the desired location (seems to be application dependent). In the background, Caster is just using the left and right keys to move the cursor around after the initial selection. In principle, we could improve this by using the up/down arrows and navigating using Ctrl-left/right.
  • Currently, using sauce/dunce includes the current line in the search (it shouldn't) and lease/ross allows the user to specify a number of lines to search over (it should only search the current line). To fix this, we would need to adjust the regex for the case when sauce/dunce is specified so that it only matches when it sees a new line character before (for dunce) or after (for sauce) the target object. The regex is located in the function select_text_and_return_it in the file text_manipulation_support.py.
  • Words within a multiword camel case phrase will be ignored, the regex (see above) needs to be adjusted to fix this.
  • In some situations (possibly only when selecting towards the left), if you have two of the same word directly in a row, the regex not match the nearest occurrence but rather start by matching the second nearest one. The regex (see above) needs to be adjusted to fix this (I don't know how).
  • Occasionally the command parameters (e.g. occurrence_number or before_after) are interpreted as dictation since the parameters are optional. For example, if you say "go ross after hello", once in a while it will think you are searching for the phrase "after hello" and so won't work in which case it would print in the Natlink window "'after hello' not found". I don't understand what determines when this happens and when it doesn't.
  • There is some duplication in the code. It would be great if a python expert was able to help us tidy the code up a bit.
  • These commands are unreliable in Microsoft Word. You will want to disable smart selection and cursor animation for use there. You can also try adjusting the pause times (see below). However, you are probably better off using Dragon's native commands in Microsoft Word. Those commands have some advantages and disadvantages relative to Caster's.
  • In RStudio, the underlying Ace text editor automatically navigates through double spaces with a single arrow key press. This feature causes these functions to fail. An RStudio issue is open.
  • Emacs is not supported yet as it has unusual cursor/selection behavior; see here and here. The functions in text_manipulation_support.py take an application parameter, so one would just need to make an if statement if application == emacs: in some of the functions such as select_text_and_return_it to account for Emacs cursor/selection behavior. Application parameters need to be added into the dictionary contexts at the top of the file.
  • Although these commands do not affect what is on the first slot of the clipboard, they do sometimes affect what is on the second or third slot of the clipboard if you are using a clipboard with multiple slots. (The multi-clipboard on Windows 10 can be accessed by pressing Windows-V.) In particular, the text that the command selects will typically be added onto the second slot of the clipboard by the function read_selected_without_altering_clipboard. Sometimes the function paste_string_without_altering_clipboard causes a similar problem. It is possible that this issue could be solved by tweaking those functions (I don't totally understand how they work, though I know they use pyperclip). If not, it might be worth looking into a third-party clipboard manager such as CopyQ, which appears to be quite sophisticated and apparently supports python scripting.
  • Sometimes these commands don't work properly in certain apps because those apps take a very long time for text to be added into the clipboard after pressing Ctrl-C. The current solution is to have a dictionary called copy_pause_time_dict that lets the user set different pause times (for after pressing Ctrl-C) for different apps. (copy_pause_time_dict and the other dictionaries described here are in text_manipulation_support.py for now). In order to add a custom pause time for an application, the user must first add that application into the dictionary contexts.
    • In the future, a better solution might be the following: if the text that is passed into the function is the same as what was on the clipboard before, then have the command try copying again (with an increased pause time afterwards). The tools for doing something like this alternative solution are already available in caster's lib/context.py, see for example the function read_nmax_tries and the parameter same_is_okay in the function read_selected_without_altering_clipboard. One problem with this solution seems to be that sometimes you might want to use the commands on the same text multiple times in a row (e.g. for moving the cursor) in which case what was on the first slot of the clipboard wouldn't change so the command would try to copy again unnecessarily. That problem could possibly be avoided by adjusting the function read_selected_without_altering_clipboard.
    • In addition to the copy_pause_time_dict, there is also a dictionary called paste_pause_time_dict that adjusts the pause time between putting text onto the clipboard and pressing Ctrl-V, since this seems (but not totally sure) to be application dependent.
  • Character sequences as target objects is only implemented for "go/move".