Oxford English Dictionary (OED) on CD-ROM
in a 16-, 32-, or 64-bit Windows environment

Hard-disk installation,
bugs, word processing macros, networking,
fonts, and so forth



This XyWWWeb page is emphatically unaffiliated with Oxford University Press [OUP], the owner and publisher of The Oxford English Dictionary [OED], The Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition) on Compact Disc, and other products and their associated trademarks.

Be SURE to read your OUP licence carefully before implementing any technique described on this web page. Under no circumstance do I advise or encourage you to do anything that violates any terms of the licence(s) that you received with your OUP product(s). The OED is a scholarly monument sui generis, with perhaps no peer in the English (or any other) language, and we honor the great lexicographers who created it by not abusing their work or OUP’s copyright. This webpage is exclusively concerned with enabling hard disk usage by legitimate owners of the OED, and resolving specific software bugs. If you’re looking for bootleg files, you won’t find them here.

Procedures described on this page are, or may seem, complex and technical. The discussion assumes that you understand and are skilled in the use of DOS. Please don’t Email me to ask about basic DOS terms & procedures — go instead to Google and do some research. Struggle! If you do not understand a discussion or procedure thoroughly, do not attempt to implement the proposal or solution! THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES WHATSOEVER; YOU ASSUME ALL RISKS. Those risks are real. The techniques, concepts, and softwares offered on this page may not be accurately or adequately documented, they may not work with your setup or operating system, they may not be bug-free or readily reversible, they may not be easy to use — without excluding anything else that they may not be. You alone are responsible for the consequences of any actions you undertake. These are simply ideas thrown into the world for reflection and deliberation. If you know your skill level, then consider yourself warned; if you don’t know your skill level, then leave now.

I am neither affiliated with nor responsible for the content of any external web page or site hyperlinked here.

Editions (Hard and Soft):
The “OED Second Edition” (“OED2”) is the currently-marketed edition of the OED. The Third Edition is still years away.

The retronymical First Edition “OED1” comprised the basic First Edition dictionary (1884-1928), the Supplement of 1933, and the four final Supplement volumes (1972-1986). The Second Edition “OED2”, published in 1989, integrates the First Edition material, and adds 5000 new entries plus “extensive revisions and additional citations”. v3.x of the Second Edition data CD adds the three Additions Series volumes (1993-1997) and several thousand entries produced by ongoing OED research (negligible contributions, IMO).

First Edition CD-ROM was published by Oxford University Press [OUP], International Computaprint Corp.,
  Bowker, and Tri Star Publishing (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania) as The Oxford English Dictionary
  Computer File: the Original Oxford English Dictionary on Compact Disc in December 1987 and phased
  out in December 1992.  DOS only, marketed in the U.S.A.  2 CDs and a 5¼ inch floppy.  Did not
  include any material post-1933.  44 million words.  ISBN 0944674003  [I’ve never seen it.]

Second Edition CD-ROM versions:
1992 - v1  1 CD, 1 diskette <==the version primarily discussed here
			    59 million words
			    User’s Guide by Donna Lee Berg (ISBN of Guide only 0199617260):
			      Spiral binding, comprehensive instructions and examples, 118 pages
			    ISBN complete package Windows 0198612605, Macintosh 0199617279
	Software Releases (all v1 releases, both PC and Mac, use the same dictionary data CD):
	1992: v1.0x	<== hard disk installation PERMITTED
                            Buggy. Uses different fonts than later v1.1x versions. DDE interprocess
                            communication NOT enabled. Replace with v1.10+ (e.g. v1.10 or v1.14,
                            below, which are freely available)
	1994: v1.10	<== hard disk installation PERMITTED
                            Single-user version of the OED for Windows
                            Windows v1.10 software is available at abandonware sites, e.g. here (registration required)
	1995: v1.11*	<== hard disk installation PERMITTED
                            “Windows Network Version” of April 1995, for site-licenced users;
                            works equally well in single-user mode;
                            manual installation (no SETUP file)
                            An OUP brochure described this version’s features.
                            N.B. The asterisk “*” in v1.11* is OUP’s idea
	1996: v1.13	<== hard disk installation normally NOT ALLOWED
	1998: v1.14	<== hard disk installation normally NOT ALLOWED
                      	    Windows v1.14 software is still freely available from OUP:
			    Macintosh v1.0d software is also freely available:
1999 - v2  2 CDs	<== hard disk installation normally NOT ALLOWED;
			    requires CD to be in drive at all times
			    ISBN 0192687883
			    Patch for Windows 2000/XP (Patch for Windows ME)
			    (I don’t own this version — not tested)
2002 - v3  2 CDs	    User Manual: Booklet, 59 pages
	Software Releases:
	2002: v3.0	<== hard disk installation PERMITTED with 70-90 day
			    revalidation (i.e. insert CD in drive)
			    Full Version: ISBN 0195218884
			    Upgrade (v2 → v3) Version: ISBN 0195218892
	2004-2005: v3.1	<== hard disk installation PERMITTED with 70-90 day revalidation
			    Full European Version (“Release 1”) 21 October 2004: ISBN 0198610165
			    Full USA Version (“Release 1”) January 2005: ISBN 0195222172
			    Upgrade (“Release 2”) August 2005: ISBN 0195222164
			    According to OUP’s vague announcement, v3.1 “incorporates software
			    improvements together with copy protection and still retains the clear
			    interface and easy-to-use functionality of the Oxford English
			    Dictionary (Second Edition) on CD-ROM version 3.0 … [plus]
			    almost 2,000 new words and phrases from the OED’s ongoing
			    research programme, as well as the full text of the OED Second
			    Edition, published in 1989, the Oxford English Dictionary Addition
			    Series (Volumes 1-3), published in 1993 and 1997, the Bibliography
			    to the Second Edition, and other ancillary material”.
	2007: v3.1.1	<== hard disk installation PERMITTED (70-90 day revalidation
			    requirement ELIMINATED!) 
			    v3.1.1 is available, for disks dated “2004” (new “2004,2005,2007”
			    disks will be supplied), by contacting OUP Tech Support;
			    or for disks dated “2004,2005” via a software patch.
			    (Can you still swap “2004” disks for “2004,2005,2007” disks, now that v4 is released?)
			    The primary purpose of v3.1.1 was to enable operation under Vista
2009 - v4		<== hard disk installation PERMITTED. See Amazon’s description.
			    Release date 21 May 2009.
			    Full Version Windows|Mac (U.K.|U.S.) ISBN-13 9780199563838,
			    ISBN-10 0199563837. £169.57+VAT | $295.00 MSRP ($212.40 at Amazon, $198 at eLearnAid).
			    Upgrade (U.S.) Windows-only “available to registered users of Versions 2.0 upwards.”
			    ISBN-13 9780199565948 ISBN-10 0199565945 £78|$79.95 MSRP.
			    There are also ‘Official Import Versions’ in Japan (Full ¥40,000 Upgrade ¥15,000),
			    with “a user manual translated into Japanese, as well as a Japanese technical
			    support helpline.” Inter alia,
			    “Now available to Mac [OS X v10.4+ PPC G4 or Intel Core Duo] users;
			    “Smoother and faster performance providing instantaneous search results;
			    “New word-wheel which supports incremental letter-by-letter browsing;
			    “7,000 new words and meanings;
			    “local CD-ROM/DVD drive (for installation); runs from hard drive only”[!]
			    Note that you must pay full price for the Mac version (the Upgrade is
			    Windows-only), and you can no longer upgrade from Version 1!

Third Edition (circa 2018? 2037? different publication dates are mooted)

Late News about Microsoft Vista and Windows 7:


We have surprisingly few Vista reports regarding OED v1.1x. My own installations of v1.10 on 32-bit Vista Ultimate and Home Premium boxes run snappily, both with and sometimes without OEDXP.EXE. Another user successfully runs v1.10 under the 32-bit Vista Business edition, with Administrator privileges in “Windows XP Compatibility” mode, and launched by v3.1.8 of OEDXP.EXE (his attempts to launch the OED with the normal OED.EXE executable, or to launch outside XP Compatibility mode, both failed with classic 0006:E8BA crashes [GPFs].)
Another Vista Business user followed these guidelines, but still GPFed because he didn’t have a printer installed. After installing the “Generic / Text” driver, OED v1.10 worked.

Pressings of OED v3.1 that display a “2004,2005” (not “2004”) date on the disks work with Vista, and with 64-bit versions of WinXP, if a software patch is downloaded from an OUP website, unZIPped, and applied before a fresh installation of OED v3.1 is run for the first time. We have confirmation from both OUP and several users that the patch may also be applied in Windows 2000 and 32-bit WinXP (and perhaps in earlier Windows operating systems as well). Moreover,
this patch eliminates the 70-90 day revalidation requirement of v3.1! For details, see Version 3.1, below.

Windows 7:

No reports yet for OED v1.1x.

v3.0: C-Dilla apparently will not install on 64-bit machines. OUP’s indefatigable customer support to the rescue: “The OED v3.0 software was not developed to run on Windows 7 and as this version of the OED was discontinued five years ago now, no further development work will be carried out. Version 3.0 users have the option of upgrading to v4.0.” (Little wonder that infuriated owners of expensive software condescend to warez, e.g. stripped of C-Dilla!) One cumbersome solution is to install a WinXP child operating system under Virtual PC.

Users have had difficulty getting v3.1 to run or even install, due to two very different problems. Again, OUP customer support offered its typical helping hand: “Dear Sir, we do not support betas. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.” (An understandable posture, which also enables an earlier and longer lunch.)

So far, all reports involve users with v3.1.1 disks or patches. In general, Vista information and procedures apply to Windows 7 as well, with these additional wrinkles:

Installation doesn’t complete:
These instructions, which resolve a problem with the “Customer Experience Improvement Program” (CEIP) client in Windows 7 Beta that causes Explorer and some MSI-based installers to stop working properly, enabled one user to successfully install v3.1.1.

OED won’t run:
OED launches, accepts a word look-up, offers several look-up results, but then crashes with, variously, “oed3.exe has stopped working”, “OED CD-ROM Error: Entry cannot be accessed”, and/or “Incompatible Application”. This gottabemobile.com forum thread describes two solutions: not installing the v3.1.1 software patch with “2004,2005” disks; and (contrary to OUP instructions) not rebooting the computer before running the OED for the first time after installation, but instead run the OED once (and perhaps see the wrong fonts), then reboot, then run OED again (and now see the correct fonts). Why this works — who knows. But two users confirm that it does work. Both users ran as Administrators, and turned off UAC during installation, but were able to run OED subsequently as non-Administrators with UAC.

OED runs but crashes before returning search results:
8/2010: Under 32-bit Win7 Ultimate, v3.1.1 would not run without error until oedcd_v3.exe was launched in Windows XP (Service Pack 3) compatibility mode. UAC was turned off permanently on this machine, which may or may not be a factor. The result is flawless operation. No other modifications to the user’s normal setup! A simple formula for success, well worth trying before you pull your few remaining hairs out. (Shocked by v4’s inability to save Search results but needing software compatible with Vista|Win7, this U.S.-based British user asked OUP Tech Support to swap his old v3.1 Release 1 CDs for overstock v3.1.1 disks. Stonewalled (as usual) by OUP-US in Cary, North Carolina, he then reached a “delightful” woman at OUP-UK who consented to a physical exchange of disks by snail. So miracles do still happen, even at OUP.)

Please contact me if you have additional Vista or Windows 7 information to report.

Despite differences in the various OED Second Edition softwares, each individual version is installable, and operable, on almost all Windows 32-bit operating systems: 9x (95, 98, ME) and NT (NT4, 2000, XP, Server — Vista, unfortunately, seems to work out-of-the-box only with OED v1.1x (32-bit machines only), v3.1.1, and v4.0).

Often you can buy the OED on Ebay, BookFinder, Abebooks, Alibris, BookFinder4U, etc. Or you might find the CD in a library near you. English members of 144 libraries that subscribe to a two-year agreement between OUP and the Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council (MLA) can access the OED (and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford Reference Online, Grove Music Online, and Grove Art Online) from any computer at any time, and within the library – see details here. If you want to buy the disk, be wary of imposters like “Concise”, “Compact”, “Mini”, “Shorter”, “Pop-Up”, etc CD versions of Oxford “English Dictionaries” masquerading as the actual OED. If you want OED version 3.1, don’t buy the “Upgrade” unless you already own OED version 2 or version 3.0. Instead you want the “Full” version with (very important!) discs labeled “2004,2005” or “2004,2005,2007” (not “2004”) — you may buy it direct from OUP (UK/Europe, USA, or World). Online stores like eLearnAid and IntelligentEntertainment.com offer much better prices than OUP — look for 25% discounts (Froogle).

Back to “Contents”

Hard disk installation

All versions of the OED Second Edition software can, in fact, be installed on a hard disk, notwithstanding the restrictions built into the plain vanilla software of some versions, as detailed above. There are five basic approaches to hard disk installation:

The first approach is preferable, because the Second Edition v1.1x software is much better than the v2 or v3.x software (in my opinion); and v1.10 or v1.11*, in particular, employ no copy protection (Mac v4.0 software has no copy protection either, interestingly). Peruse this and then this (20+ message) alt.english.usage thread for an extended, opinionated discussion of the pros and cons of the various OED2 versions prior to v4.

Back to “Contents”

Version 1

Many users encounter difficulties with OED v1.1x under WinXP and Vista, but it does work — and very well, too. This website provides detailed information that tries to solve all known XP/Vista problems. Over many years, we’ve received reports from dozens of users that OUP tech support has told them that OED v1.1x won’t work on the latest Microsoft operating systems, and therefore they must upgrade (lately their spiel has been more carefully calibrated, in essence saying that ‘we no longer develop that old product, but you may upgrade to a new version that works’). It is simply untrue. Occasionally it takes some work and a modicum of skill, but you can get v1.1x to run.

Second Edition/Version 1 softwares for x86 processors are 16-bit programs, so they will also run under Windows v3.x and NT v3.5x. Moreover, Windows v3.x can be emulated by other operating systems, so OED version 1 can be installed under e.g. Win-OS/2, or Linux with Wine (which supports Win32 programs also). Note, however, that 16-bit programs will not work out-of-the-box with 64-bit versions of Vista. A freeware solution is Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2007: install Win98 (or even Win3.1) under VPC on a Vista 64-bit platform, and 16-bit programs like OED v1.1x will run.

There are no Windows Registry entries, so you can install Version 1 manually if you want (uninstall simply involves deleting the OED files, in their single dedicated subdirectory).

Oxford’s original “tip sheet” for v1.10 hard disk installation was basically accurate (those instructions were deleted long ago, together with the entire OUP-USA v1 website; however see the surviving OUP-UK OED v1 support site, which contains some misinformation about v1 hard disk installation).

You may install both the datafile and the executables on drives with any supported file system — FAT, FAT32, NTFS (it doesn’t matter).

For no good reason, OED v1.1x requires that a “printer” (or at least a printer driver) be installed. It’s easy to meet this requirement, even if you have no hardware printer — see General Protection Faults: Printer Driver Incompatibilities (and Fixes), below.

Note that on multi-user machines, it is necessary to “Share” the directory where the OED executable (OED.EXE) is located; otherwise only the Administrator (or other user who installed the program) will be able to use the OED.

Back to “Contents”

Automatic installation of v1.10 or v1.11*

The simplest procedure is to use SETUP.EXE (on the installation diskette) to install OED normally (i.e. using the dictionary CD). Afterward, make sure the OED runs properly using the CD dictionary disk! Then copy file OED2.DAT (the dictionary data on the CD-ROM) to a hard disk root directory, preferably on a logical disk lettered higher than (above or before) the first removable drive (CD or DVD drive). If, for example, F: is your first or only CD drive, put the OED on E:, D:, or C: — for example:
Many users have never partitioned their hard drive, so OED must of necessity be located on C: — but all experienced users do partition, and generally they put the operating system only on C:, placing applications like OED and other data on other drives. If you must locate the OED on a hard drive lettered lower than (below) the first removable drive (i.e. G: through W: but never(!) X:, Y:, or Z: — a bug disallows these three drives), read on — you’ll need to perform additional configuration.

It may be necessary to write a contiguous (defragmented) OED2.DAT file to hard disk (although under Win2000 and WinXP — the only OSes specifically tested for this issue — v1.1x runs successfully despite fragmentation). If only for speed, you should consider defragmenting your target hard disk volume before (and maybe again after) copying OED2.DAT onto it. In Win32, find the built-in defragmenter at Start key → [All] Programs → Accessories → System Tools → Disk Defragmenter (or just Run dfrg.msc). Alternatively, on WinNT+ only, run SysInternals’ single-file defragmenter Contig.exe against OED2.DAT.

v1.10 and v1.11* are distributed with a simple two-line OED.INI:

Tests indicate that OED.INI is actually not needed by OED v1.1x itself. However, DDE interprocess communication with OED by word processor macros requires the elaborate INItialization format of OED version 1.13 or 1.14, so that is the format that you should use with all OED v1.1 versions (see Structure of OED.INI under v1, below). Additionally, v1.10 and v1.11* add a stanza to WIN.INI (on NT boxes, usually in the %windir%, e.g. C:\WINDOWS):

Back to “Contents”

Manual installation of v1.10 or v1.11*

Version 1.10 or 1.11* installation consists of 1 data file, 6 system files, and either 18 (v1.10) or 20 (v1.11*) True Type fonts, as follows:
Root directory \ — Data File:
OED2.DAT	635,400,192  <== Copy to hard disk per “Automatic installation”, above
	CRC32:	0f2c6998
	MD4:	bc3b708bf4307548f109ff888e3af6be
	MD5:	f30d97b59d007600a2322466bb2214fd
	SHA1:	626fab18cc9a25feafcf4080901c834e3ca05af7
Subdirectory \OED — System Files:
OED.EXE	447,280  <== v1.10 Standalone Version (MD5: d1438ba83e3f16b470a14cbdfa48c895)
OED.EXE	443,856  <== v1.11* Network Version (MD5: e05ce1fbd45cea33f86b30a8720824d9)
IPC.DLL	 20,436  <== needed for InterProcess Communication [DDE] (MD5: bd8f927673da3c86a6dbbf39a0563849)
OED.HLP	160,450  <== optional
OED_LOGO.BMP	140,680  <== the splash screen (MD5: 2e799e0416a7c2bb9d633b1d51e4cffb)
XWI321.DLL	211,285 (MD5: e21eb111b54216f4fe85f9b264891832)
XWI321TE.DLL	 58,759 (MD5: ffe09005e024b89004782137ca0d15b7)
Subdirectory \OED\FONTS — True Type Fonts, with their prose descriptions (used in the Fonts dialogs):
ARIALSC.TTF	Arial Small Caps OUP Regular
ARIBIOUP.TTF	Arial OUP Bold Italic
HADAS.TTF	Monotype Hadassah
IPA.TTF	Plantin Regular		[v1.11* only]
PI10OUP.TTF	Pi10OUP MT	[v1.11* only]
PLANSC.TTF	Plantin OUP Small Caps
PLANZOUP.TTF	Plantin OUP Bold Italic
PORGRK.TTF	Porson OUP Greek One
PORGRK2.TTF	Porson OUP Greek Two
TNRPHON.TTF	Times New Roman Phonetic
Put the 6 system files in a dedicated subdirectory, e.g. D:\OED

Install the 18-20 fonts using Control Panel → Fonts → File → Install New Font (be sure to check the box “Copy fonts to Font folder” in the “Install New Font” [or “Add Font”] dialog).

You may now run “OEDXP.EXE /F” against your installation, to confirm that all Files and Fonts are correctly installed and recognized by the operating system.

If you are now tempted to remove the \OED\FONTS subdirectory, if it exists, to recover disk space, don’t do it! There’s a distinct possibility that someday you’ll need those backup copies of the fonts again (see various font problems that can arise, below). However, you may delete the *.FOT font descriptors, if any, in \OED\FONTS — they aren’t necessary.

You may need to implement one (or more) of the two general mechanisms, below, for “finding” the dictionary data file OED2.DAT; these are especially important if your computer has multiple removable drives, and/or unusual driveletter designations. In most cases, however, OED.EXE v1.1x will simply find OED2.DAT (no matter whether hard disk file or CD) as long as it is present in a root directory.

A Desktop “Shortcut” (PIF or LNK) which launches the OED may “Start in” either the directory of executable OED.EXE, or the root directory of OED2.DAT.

Back to “Contents”

Installation of v1.13 or v1.14

I see no particular advantage to using v1.13, when v1.14 is freely downloadable (as oed1_14.zip) from OUP. oed1_14.zip contains a single file, SETUP.EXE. Install v1.14 normally, using SETUP.EXE and the data CD. In retail boxes, SETUP.EXE is provided on a diskette, but it runs equally well from your hard disk — in other words, you do not require an A: diskette drive to install. Then make sure the OED is working properly.

Note that there is no copy protection for either the original data CD or for the OED2.DAT dictionary data file; you can simply burn OED2.DAT to the root directory of any CD, and it will run happily — as long as OED2.DAT is on a CD. If however you want to run v1.13 or v1.14 off hard disk, you must make and mount an image file, perhaps using Mkisofs and a CD-ROM emulator like Virtual Clone Drive or Daemon Tools. An alternate, light-weight (8Kb device driver + 23Kb control panel) CD-ROM emulator is an unsupported freeware package from Microsoft(!) called winxpvirtualcdcontrolpanel_21.exe, which claims that it requires WinXP Pro or Home, but which works with Win2000 (and maybe other OSes) too. It supports OED v1.1x, and places very little load on your system (it lacks the robust features of Daemon Tools, but if emulation of an OED v1.1x Data CD is your only requirement, then this is an alternative choice). Beware that this last-named emulator can establish SUBST-like drives on every driveletter below the drive that you pick for your emulated “CD” — and because drives X: Y: or Z: fail due to a bug, this could involve the pointless allocation of precious resources. The Readme included in the self-extracting ZIPfile explains installation and image file mounting adequately, but fuller instructions are available here. In my opinion, Virtual Clone Drive is the better choice. Thanks to William Farrar for this tip.

OED v1.14 contains the same data and executable files as v1.10|1.11*, with these exceptions: IPC.DLL is no longer included; UNWISE.EXE is added (used to uninstall the OED application); and three different M$Word macros are also included. During SETUP.EXE installation, when offered the option to install a M$Word macro, skip it (the default action): a much more sophisticated macro is discussed below, and can be downloaded from this website.

The 18 True Type fonts of v1.14 (listed below) are different than in v1.10 or v1.11*, and they are automatically copied by SETUP.EXE to [BootDrive]:\WINDOWS[or WINNT]\SYSTEM (perhaps the right place for them under Win v3.x, but not the ideal location under Win32 — see further font information, below). As with v1.10 and v1.11*, install the 18 fonts using Control Panel → Fonts → File → Install New Font (and be sure to check the box “Copy fonts to Font folder” in the “Install New Font” [or “Add Font”] dialog).

You may now run “OEDXP.EXE /F” against your installation, to confirm that all Files and Fonts are correctly installed and recognized by the operating system.

ARCOUP97.TTF	Arial OUP Small Caps Regular
ARIOUP97.TTF	Arial OUP Italic
ARZOUP97.TTF	Arial OUP Bold Italic
HADAS.TTF	Monotype Hadassah
PLBOUP97.TTF	Plantin OUP Bold
PLCOUP97.TTF	Plantin OUP Small Caps Regular
PLIOUP97.TTF	Plantin OUP Italic
PLZOUP97.TTF	Plantin OUP Bold Italic
PORGRK.TTF	Porson Greek OUP One
PORGRK2.TTF	Porson Greek OUP Two
TNRPHON.TTF	Times New Roman Phonetic

Back to “Contents”

Create an OED2.DAT Image File for OED v1.1xunnecessary with v1.10 and v1.11*

An “Image File” (sometimes called an “ISO file”) is an identical copy, in file form, of the physical OED data CD. The following elementary procedure, using excellent freeware (to non-commercial users) tools only, will enable you to operate the dictionary off hard disk with any version of OED v1.1x (v1.10-v1.14). Although unnecessary with v1.10 and v1.11*, some sort of image file procedure is required under v1.13 and v1.14.

By far the simplest tool to use to create an image file is the freeware ImgBurn, one of the finest free softwares I’ve ever seen (primarily used for burning CDs and DVDs). Put your OED data CD in your drive, install ImgBurn, run it, and a wizard pops up with six choices: select “Create image file from disc”. Indicate the “Source” [DVD] drive that contains the CD, indicate a “Destination” filename e.g. OED2.ISO (select a drive:\path with plenty of free space! 615Mb will be required), and finally click the disk-to-file graphic at bottom-left. Done. Jump down to “Fifth”, below.

Here’s the procedure for an older image creation technique. N.B.: the particular imaging tool described below (Mkisofs) is not designed to deal with the additional security and copy protection “features” of OED v2 and v3 (for alternative procedures appropriate to v2 and v3.0, go here). If you’re uncomfortable with command line utilities, you may use many alternative image-making tools to make the ISO file, such as UltraISO Trial Version, Nero, Alcohol 120%, etc.

First, download this version of CDRTools for Win32:

Second, unZIP mkisofs.exe and cygwin1.dll (or the whole 764Kb CDRTools package) into a dedicated directory with at least 650MB (650,000,000 bytes) of free space — in the examples below we’ll call that directory E:\CDRTOOLS.

Third, use Notepad to write an Ascii text file named OED.LST in the same directory, consisting of one line terminated by a carriage return (no spaces fore or aft):

where "d:" is the (usually CD) drive where OED2.DAT is currently located. Note the Unix-style foreslashes ("/", not "\") above. Ensure that no EndOfFile character (Ascii-26|1Ah|Ctrl-Z) is appended to the file, otherwise Mkisofs will abort in Step Four below.

Fourth, paste the following command at a DOS Prompt in the CDRTools directory (adjusting "E:\CDRTOOLS" in the command to its actual location) — these commands are case-SeNsItIvE:

mkisofs.exe -graft-points -v -V OED2 -o E:\CDRTOOLS\OED.ISO -path-list E:\CDRTOOLS\OED.LST
Mkisofs will rapidly generate an ISO-9660 compliant image file named OED.ISO in E:\CDRTOOLS. Note that buried among the Mkisofs arguments above is an instruction to LABEL the imaged disk “OED2”. If you use a different tool than Mkisofs to create your image file, be sure to LABEL the imaged volume (the image file) “OED2”, because a disk labeled OED2 is one of two methods used by OED.EXE to identify the disk (real or virtual) that contains OED dictionary data.

Fifth, install freeware Virtual Clone Drive or Daemon Tools. The word “daemon” means “server”. Note that although Daemon Tools has long been our preferred CD emulator, Virtual Clone Drive has recently supplanted it. Note too that version 4 of Daemon Tools includes an optional, and odious, client-side advertising software application called the “Daemon Tools Search Bar” – purportedly bundled with Daemon to defray development costs. Uncheck it at installation time! This is the only opportunity you have to disable this adware, so be vigilant when you install. Alternatively, older v3.47 of Daemon Tools does not include adware, and works well with the OED.

After you install Virtual Clone Drive or Daemon Tools, reboot and “mount” the OED.ISO image file. [Mount is a term seldom used by the PC community, but ubiquitous in Unix. To “mount” a disk or volume (a fixed-size storage space for one or more files) means to somehow connect your computer to the volume data, so that it appears in your computer’s filesystem as a disk (drive) containing one or more directories (“folders”) and files. In the present case, the “disk” to be mounted — originally the physical OED data CD, which contains one directory and one file — has been transformed into a soft “image file”, and these virtual drive emulators provide the mechanism for tricking your computer into treating this image file as if it were an actual, physical CD inserted in an actual CD drive — although in fact it’s all emulated = virtual = fake.]

Mount the OED.ISO image file: With Virtual Clone Drive, open Windows Explorer (“My Computer”), right-click on the virtual drive letter created when you installed Virtual Clone Drive, hover over “Virtual Clone Drive”, click on “Mount”, and browse to your OED2.ISO file. With Daemon Tools, right-click on the Daemon Tools icon in the Windows Toolbar, hover over Virtual CD/DVD-ROM → Device 0: [d:] No media → click on Mount image → browse to OED.ISO → Open. The driveletter of the virtual CD-ROM appears in brackets (“[d:]”) after the device number (“Device 0:”). Once you mount an image file in either of these emulators, they will remember it, and remount that image automatically whenever you reboot, or until you “Unmount” the particular image file.

winxpvirtualcdcontrolpanel_21.exe is another alternative emulator, if you want something simple and light weight. (Note, however, that I have reservations about this emulator: all too often it grabs too many resources, and it is not easy to disable when you don’t need or want it. On balance, I much prefer Virtual Clone Drive or Daemon Tools.)

Sixth, even though you don’t usually need it, you might implement one or both of the two general mechanisms for “finding” the dictionary data file OED2.DAT — or at least make sure that these mechanisms, if they exist, do not offer contradictory information, such as an “OED2” LABEL and a “SET OED=” spec that point at different or incorrect drives (they both must point at the Daemon Tools emulated “CD” drive). Also, make sure there are no extra copies of OED2.DAT lying around (REName them if necessary so they aren’t identifiable as such) in root directories or in the DOS PATH. Remove the CD!

Now fire it up. Fast, aye? Quiet, too (no CD grinding).

A correspondent reports success with Alcohol 120% (registered version):

“I’ve just successfully mounted my v1.13 with Alcohol 120% on Windows XP Home Edition. It was very straightforward… This is the three step method used:
1. Install OED.
2. Install Alcohol 120%, then reboot
3. Using Alcohol 120%, make and mount an .MDF image of the OED2.DAT file from the CD.”

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Macintosh Native v1.0d

v1.0x remains the only Second Edition OED software version that supports Macintosh MacOS natively; in May 2009, OED v4.0 at last renewed Mac support, after a long hiatus, but for OS X only. You can download Mac native version 1.0d freely from OUP. OED v1.0d for Macintosh uses the same dictionary data CD as OED for PCs (even though they were originally marketed in separate packages: ISBN# Windows: 0198612605, Macintosh: 0199617279).

For what it’s worth, OUP stated (circa 1998) that v1.0d is “compatible with the CD-ROM extension software shipped with new IIa Macintoshes, including Power Macs… For Systems earlier than 7.5 you need the following extensions in your extension folder (found in the system folder): Apple CD-ROM, ISO 9660 Access, and Foreign File Access. For Systems later than 7.5 you need Apple CD-ROM and Foreign File Access. These extensions must be ‘toggled on’ via the extension manager.”

Mac v1.0d presumably has the same feature set as Windows v1.14; and according to an actual user, it also has the same “no hard disk” limitation:

“Creating a CD image still works, though… With the last few system versions, Apple has provided a utility… called Disk Copy that allows one to make a [hard disk] image [file] of any [CD] (with read/write access or read-only, or even compressed). When mounted, the image behaves just like the original [data CD, overriding] copy-protection… It does the job. You can make an image of the OED CD-ROM by simply dragging the CD icon from the desktop to the Disk Copy window. You can then mount the image (which should automatically be named ‘OED2’) and run the Macintosh OED [software], which will read from the mounted image — the ‘virtual CD drive’ — without complaint.”

This user adds (private communication) that he has installed OED for Mac v1.0d under “OS X and OS 9, both running on my [PowerPC] iBook laptop, albeit only under Mac ‘Classic’ emulation if you’re using OS X… And yes, you can run it off the hard disk — but only if you either (a) rename your HD (or partition) to ‘OED2’ or (b) create and mount a disk image labelled ‘OED2’ containing the OED2.DAT file… I’ve managed to install the OED on my Mac OS X laptop, both under Virtual PC and under Mac OS 9 emulation… I actually prefer the former setup, because, believe it or not, under OS X it’s quicker to start up a virtual PC than to start up a virtual Mac. The PC accesses the dictionary data file from an ordinary OS X folder, which, through a piece of technological trickery, is made available to the PC as a network drive… ”

I suspect that Mac v1.0, v1.0a, or v1.0b did allow direct hard disk installation — if you own, or have experience with, this software, please let me know !


Basilisk II

A user reports success using v1.0d with the open-source (GNU General Public License [GPL]) Basilisk II MacOS emulator on a Macbook Pro/Intel (OSX):

“Installation took about 5 minutes and was rather painless. You just need to get the relevant tools on the Net. Here is a summary of what I did:
1. Download Basilisk II at http://gwenole.beauchesne.info/projects/basilisk2/ or use a really nice OSX port at http://www.users.bigpond.com/pear_computers/Software.html.
2. Macintosh emulator applications such as Basilisk II demand a very specific combination of system software and ROM. This combination works: 3. Use Disk Utility to make a 660MB image file. This becomes the new ‘hard disk’.
4. [Edited 2009.12.5] Set up Basilisk II in the Basilisk II Volume settings with the paths to the system software, and the hard disk locations. Set up Basilisk II Memory/Misc ROM File with the path to the ROM.
5. Start Basilisk II and it boots System 7.5.3 off the starter disk in just over 2 seconds. Format the ‘hard disk’. You can then copy the system folder over to the hard disk and reboot to rid yourself of the starter disk and boot directly off the hard drive. The OSX drive is visible under the name ‘Unix’ and you can drag and drop the OED v1.0d software and OED2.DAT file onto the desktop and drop the fonts in the system fonts folder. Rename the hard disk ‘OED2’, click on the OED2 application, and it’s up and running without problems.
It’s very fast and, at 4MB, it’s the smallest way to get OED up and running under OSX Intel.”

Basilisk II is fast, but there is one exotic issue (reported by Darrell Greenwood):

“I am now running Macintosh v1.0d using Basilisk II MacOS on a MacBook Pro 2.8GHz (late 2009, 10.6.2). The emulation opens in a couple of seconds, the app within a second. The load goes from an idle of 6% to 12% while running.

Problem: When OED_Fonts.suit, the 600k TrueType suitcase containing the OED fonts, is put in the System Folder on the Basilik II emulator, it is not recognized or used by the OED app.

Cause: There is a big-endian vs. little-endian byte swapping issue with respect to the change from a Motorola 68000 processor to an Intel x86 processor. What this means in practice is the Mac file Type code gets its bytes swapped from ‘FFIL’ to ‘LIFF’. When you look at the Type of the suitcase it is ‘FFIL’. When that suitcase is moved to the emulator running on a x86 processor, the processor sees ‘LLIF’ as the type, and doesn’t recognize the font suitcase.

Solution: Change the font suitcase Type code from ‘FFIL’ to ‘LIFF’, so that it swaps back to ‘FFIL’. This can be done in numerous ways, e.g. under OS 7 with this utility, or, under OSX with Terminal, by using the Developer package’s ‘setfile’ command.”


Sheepshaver is an open-source (GNU General Public License [GPL]) MacOS “Classic” Emulator for Unix with X11 (Linux i386/x86_64/ppc, NetBSD 2.x, FreeBSD 3.x), Mac OS X (PowerPC and Intel), Windows NT/2000/XP, and BeOS R4/R5 (PowerPC).

Thanks to Ron Southerland for the following information:

“A year ago I moved to an Intel Mac from PowerPC, where the [Mac v1.0d] OED had been running pretty much constantly in the ‘Classic’ environment under OS X. At first I was unable to use the OED anymore because Apple intentionally did not include a ‘Classic’ environment on Intel versions of OS X. I regained use of the OED with Sheepshaver, an open-source ‘hack’ that provides a way to install various ‘Classic’ MacOSes (I used MacOS v9.1) on Intel Macs [and Linux, BeOS, WindowsNT]. Under Sheepshaver it’s possible to install a whole host of old ‘Classic’ applications.”

Macintosh OS X: Emulation of OED v1.1x for Windows

Option 1: OED v1.1x (and v3.x), under Parallels/VMware Fusion
All versions of the OED run on all versions of Windows from 95 through XP; OED v1.1x will also run on Windows v3.1. The following table indicates base requirements of several Windows versions. All are clean installs under Parallels Desktop. VMware Fusion and VirtualBox are other OS X emulation options to explore. If you want to use OED v3.x, then probably go with Windows XP; if you want the smallest possible footprint, then you can’t beat Windows 3.1. (Your other Windows software plans obviously affect your decision.) VMware Fusion v2.0.4 successfully runs OED v1.10 under WinXP if launched with OEDXP.EXE; OED.EXE itself crashes with the usual GPFs.

Operating System   Hard Disk   OED            RAM
Windows 3.1        1.4MB       v1.10: 600MB   76MB
Windows 95         124MB       v1.10: 600MB   77MB
Windows XP         1.29GB      v3.0: 1.6GB    81MB
Windows Vista      5.73GB      v3.1.1: 1.6GB  553MB

Option 2: OED v1.1x under Crossover
The OED v1.1x runs under Crossover for Macintosh. (v1.13 and v1.14 require that you set up OED2.DAT as a CD drive, real or emulated). Crossover probably will not work with OED v3.x, due to C-Dilla/CD-Cops copy protection. One potential workaround might be to install OED v3.1 under true Windows on a dual-boot Mac machine, and then consult it under OS X.

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v1.1x under Linux

Thanks to Henry Throop for the following information (amended by Shinji Uchioke):

“v1.14 works perfectly under Fedora Core 1 Linux. Here’s what I did:

Additionally, OED will run off of the hard drive directly, if you set up Wine so that a local directory emulates a CD-ROM:

Now v1.14 runs without the CD-ROM in the drive.”

See also two more descriptions (the second is very detailed) of successful v1.1x installations on SuSE 8.1, and Kanotix [Debian], platforms using Wine, as well as recipes for Kanotix (basically Debian Sid) and Wine 0.0.20050524-1 (among the “comments”); and Ubuntu v6.06 and v9.04 using Wine (very straightforward).

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v1.1x on any platform, using VNC

An entirely different strategy for both non-Windows and Windows platforms is “remote computing” across a Local Area Network (LAN) under Virtual Network Computing (VNC). This works extremely well, at near-zero cost. For example: Acquire a legacy Windows box, e.g. a notebook (it does not need to be powerful — late ’90s boxes are available virtually for free), attach it to your LAN, install Windows (preferably 2000 or XP) at a static private IP address like 192.168.1.xxx, dedicate the entire computer to a hard-disk installation of the OED, install a VNC server, e.g. UltraVNC (SourceForge freeware) with its souped-up “video hook” driver for frequent screen refreshes and low CPU cycles, point ports 5800 and 5900 on your router at this VNC server (if necessary), and finally stash the notebook in a closet. Then install a VNC client for your real computer’s platform (e.g. Chicken of the VNC or VNCViewer, both for OS X, or the TightVNC Viewer for Java). Or just use your browser (UltraVNC and other servers push client-side Java viewer applets that enable remote control without any viewer application installed! but not quite as pretty as a real VNC client, plus browsers consume more resources). You may have to log in, on first use, to the Windows machine that hosts the OED, but thereafter you can just let your VNC client (and the OED) run forever. Voilà! You’re consulting the OED (perhaps sharing it with other clients on the LAN, using a mixture of platforms), at very high speed and looking great, under any operating system. Seeing is believing.

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Configuration: “Finding” the Data File OED2.DAT under v1.1x

By default, OED v1.1x looks for OED2.DAT on the first removable drive; if not found there, an error is declared (e.g. “Cannot read from drive F:” where F: is your first, or only, CD drive). Launch suspends.

This is a watershed moment for many users. They never surmount this hurdle. They’ve already placed the OED data file on (for example) drive N: (or any drive lettered lower than our hypothetical CD drive F:) — which may be, variously, a second CD|DVD drive, or a local or remote hard disk. It would have been less problematic to put the OED on a drive lettered higher than F: (e.g. D: or E:). But they still have options:

In formal terms, OED.EXE recognizes two general mechanisms to override the default behavior and “find” the dictionary data on a different drive than the first removable device, whether it be a CD or a hard drive volume. The most reliable pointer for v1.10 and v1.11* is the OED variable. In order of priority, OED.EXE v1.10|v1.11* will:

1) Consult the environment variable OED.  “SET OED=d:”, either (local)
   in an individual DOS session (e.g. “SET OED=N:”), or (global) in the
   System Environment, thus affecting all sessions.
2) Search local disks for a hard disk or CD labeled “OED2”.  Command
   at DOS “LABEL N:OED2”.  Because the original data CD was LABELed “OED2”, the
   hard disk where OED is relocated should also be LABELed “OED2”.  Hard disks
   should all be lettered higher than (i.e. above or before) the first CD drive on your machine.
You may use both methods concurrently, for insurance. A network installation may require Method 1).

v1.14 reverses the above priority; it cares more about the LABEL on the “CD” (real or virtual) than the OED variable.

The “Filename=N:\” spec in the “[data]” stanza of OED.INI is NOT consulted; it simply assists word processing macros, which obtain DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) interprocess communication parameters from OED.INI. In other words, OED.INI is not required.

If you’re using the actual CD-ROM disk as your dictionary (not a copy on a hard disk), you probably don’t need either of these mechanisms, because OED.EXE will find the CD as long as it is in the first CD drive. (OED v1.10 and v1.11* will usually find OED2.DAT, either on hard disk or CD, if it is in any local root directory. No assistance from either of these mechanisms is usually required, but if OED generates a “Cannot read from drive d:” error, then set the OED environment variable [Method 1) above].)

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Structure of OED.INI under v1.1x

OED.INI should be located in the DOS Path, normally in %WINDIR% or %SYSTEMROOT% (e.g. C:\WINDOWS or C:\WINNT). OED.INI is created by SETUP.EXE, but if you bypass SETUP and manually install the necessary OED files and fonts (which is perfectly acceptable), then you may want to create OED.INI by hand. Again, OED.INI is not required unless you are also using word processing macros.

With any OED v1.x version, employ the OED.INI format required by v1.14 of the software — this affords additional flexibility. Paste the lines below into file OED.INI, changing only the “Filename=” and the “PathName=” specs to point at your OED EXEcutable installation, and the “Wait=” value to represent the duration of OED initialization on your computer. Note that the “Wait=” duration is machine-dependent: longer for slow machines (5-9 seconds), shorter for fast machines (3-6 seconds). It should roughly correspond to the number of seconds that the blue Oxford shield is displayed when OED.EXE is not cached in machine memory, e.g. when you run it for the first time in a session (on subsequent launches it will start much faster):


AppName=Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition)
Adjust the “Filename” variable above to point at the location of OED2.DAT (the dictionary data), on either a CD or Hard drive.
Adjust the “ExeName” variable to name the OED executable, usually OED.EXE. Occasionally, due to printer problems, files named STARTOED.BAT or STARTOED.CMD or OEDXP.EXE launch OED.EXE indirectly — if so, use STARTOED.BAT, STARTOED.CMD, or OEDXP.EXE as the “ExeName” instead of OED.EXE.
Adjust the “PathName” variable to point at the directory (folder) of the OED executable OED.EXE. v1.13 and v1.14 + STARTOED [OEDXP] users must also implement procedures described in this “Important Note for v1.13|v1.14 Users”.
The “ServiceName” and “AppName” should NOT be adjusted — leave as-is.
Adjust the optional “Wait” variable to hard code an interval, in seconds, between launch of the OED (when not already running) and passing of the Lookup Word via DDE. The purpose is to prevent an OED crash and possible system lockup if DDE attempts to establish a “channel” before the OED is completely initialized (i.e. while the blue splash screen still displays the Oxford shield). Minimum Wait Time = 1 second (else OED may crash, because DDE can’t yet find OED).

Note that OEDXP.EXE does not require OED.INI at all, unless OEDXP is used in conjunction with (called by) a word processing macro. OEDXP has its own runtime arguments, which replace those in OED.INI. OED.INI is only required by this website’s M$Word, OpenOffice, and WordPerfect word processing macros — otherwise it is not needed.

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Version 3

v3.x consumes about 1900MB disk space (roughly triple the 635MB required by OED v1) when run from a hard disk. In its v3.x software series, OUP is trying to reproduce, on local computers, the look-and-feel of the Network OS that it uses in its online OED service. The browser-like interface is very courant, but the cost in efficiency, memory, and disk space is steep. v3.0 and v3.1 (but not v3.1.1) need to be “revalidated” every 70-90 days by inserting the original data CD in the drive, which is a total PITA [discomfort in the hindquarters].

Installation of v3.0 [probably applies to v2 also]

v3.0 requires the presence of Macromedia’s C-Dilla (a.k.a. “SafeCast 2”) copy protection scheme (SafeCast v2.40.11). C-Dilla has been accused of many things (e.g. being spyware, which is dubious), but it seems to install itself in the low-level boot sectors of your hard disk, where it has been claimed to interfere with multi-booting other operating systems (and interfering with OS/2’s Logical Volume Manager). I know of no way to eliminate the need for C-Dilla to be present when running OED v3.0. If you uninstall C-Dilla and then try to run OED v3.0, the OED automatically reinstalls C-Dilla (without asking permission!) before launching. Conversely, if you uninstall OED v3.0, C-Dilla is not uninstalled too (uninstall with Control Panel → Add/Remove Programs).

Note too that when v3.0 was first published, you needed to be logged on as Administrator just to run OED v3 under Win2000 or WinXP. This requirement has been dropped. According to OUP, “Local Administrator permissions are no longer required to run the OED as long as the latest version of the authentication process is installed. This can be downloaded from [OUP’s] Authentication Drivers page” (it amounts to an update to C-Dilla). Lots of other potential v3 snags and snafus are documented by OUP here.

Here’s how to overcome the 90 day revalidation requirement for v3.0 only (but not v3.1, which beefs up the copy protection by using CD-Cops):

First, install v3.0 normally — be sure to tell the OED installer that you will be running the dictionary from CD, not hard disk (a Typical, not Full, setup). Get it working using the physical data CD (not emulated!). You must ensure that the OED works normally (the way OUP wants you to use it) before you try to install it to hard disk!

But sometimes v3.0 won’t work. Take a look at OUP’s v3.0 technical issues page. You may see a message similar to this:

v3.0 Printer Error Message

Or you may get an error message stating that your licence “appears to be broken”. Both are symptoms of an incompatible printer fault similar to that which can afflict v1.1x — an astonishing lapse in software engineering that has persisted for nearly a decade! Finally, OUP issued new authentication drivers (revisions to C-Dilla) that solve the problem for v2 and v3.0 (but are not applicable to v1) (authentication drivers for Windows ME and v2.0 only). Read the installation instructions before installing the new drivers. These fixes further retard (double or triple) v3.0’s tortoise-like load time, and seem to choke my whole computer (read a pertinent Amazon review entitled CDROM v3.0: Five star content - ZERO star software — many of these 50+ reviews are interesting); but you can print to your “incompatible printer” directly from the OED after it finally starts running.

Note too that OUP has released a rather large bug-fix for v3.0, in two flavors: a Full Version for first-time buyers (and for those who upgraded from v1), and a v2-to-v3.0 Upgrade Version. UnZIP into a temporary directory, run CDSETUP.EXE, and click on “Install”.

Second, download and install BlindWrite Suite evaluation version 4.x (you can uninstall it as soon as you’re done — but BlindRead and BlindWrite are fine products, and a license only costs USD|EUR 39.99). Make an image of the dictionary CD. The result will be three files, located together in the same hard disk directory, e.g. E:\IMAGES:

E:\IMAGES\OED_CD_3.BWI  789,592,272  <== the data image
E:\IMAGES\OED_CD_3.BWS   32,228,256  <== the CD subcodes and disk parameter descriptors — possibly(?) optional
E:\IMAGES\OED_CD_3.BWT          630  <== the TOC (Table_Of_Contents) file
Or install/uninstall the latest version 5.x of BlindRead (tested: BlindWrite v5.2.16.154), which adopts a new, single-file ".B5T" format. Analysis of the disk is “Automatic” (you don’t need to specify SafeCast 2); making the file can be slo-o-o-o-o-w (30 minutes with an “Automatic” profile; 8 minutes if you select “ISO image” profile). Result:
E:\IMAGES\OED_CD_3.B5T  789,592,272  <== the data image
Both work well.

Third, remove the original physical dictionary CD from your real CD drive. Download and install the Daemon Tools software CD emulator. Right-click on the Daemon Tools icon in the SysTray, and mount hard disk file OED_CD_3.BWT (or .B5T) created by BlindRead. Hover your mouse cursor over the “Virtual CD/DVD-ROM” tab, and note the new removable driveletter assigned by Windows to the Daemon Tools “CD drive” (it will say something like “Device 0 [N:] E:\OED\OED_CD_3.BWT|B5T ” — which means, in this example, that your new emulated CD drive is N:).

Fourth, edit (e.g. with Notepad) the “[FILE_PATHS]” stanza of OED.INI (in d:\WINDOWS or d:\WINNT) as follows:

CD_PATH=N:\  <== change this driveletter to the Daemon Tools virtual “CD drive”
INSTALL_PATH=E:\OEDV3\  <== leave this spec (whatever it is) alone!
Fire it up (tell Daemon Tools that the “Emulation” type is “SafeCast”). v3.x has a very slow and clumsy user interface, IMO.

When quarterly revalidation time rolls around (the software demands that you insert the CD, but gives you a 20-day countdown warning), don’t insert anything — just push the “Finish” button. The software construes your image file to be the actual data CD, and revalidates for another 90 days. So you no longer need your CDs, because you’re fully installed on your hard drive.

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Version 3.1x

If you are or were a v3.0 user, hopefully you upgraded, for reasons that only became compelling in 2007, with v3.1.1. Read on…

v3.1 was initially released in 2004. In the words of one user, v3.1 added “about 9 new words [to v3.0] as window dressing, ironclad CD-Cops v1.65 copy protection (instead of C-Dilla a.k.a. ‘SafeCast 2’, which is no longer part of the product), and little else” [actually, OUP claims 2000 “new words and phrases”, although I suspect that most are probably modern jargon, i.e. not words that you ordinarily look up in the OED]. The v3.1 discs were reissued in 2005 as “Release 2”, reportedly to add a single word that had been inadvertently omitted from the 2004 discs. You can tell which discs you own, because the year of issue is stamped upon them. The most onerous aspect of these releases is the 70-90 day revalidation requirement, inherited from v3.0. CD-Cops completely frustrated revalidation from a CD emulator — you had to carry the data disc with you if you planned to travel for long. (Note that you can force revalidation, to obtain a fresh 90-day “lease”, by holding down Ctrl-Shift while clicking on the OED shortcut icon.) Release 1 was rife with revalidation errors; OUP had to issue a CD-Cops patch to fix them. Some users could never get it to work on certain hardware, or validation simply stopped functioning after a few reauthorizations. They'd reinstall their entire operating system trying to get it to load – a new definition of desperation. Kapersky and Norton AV sometimes blocked it. Customer reviews at Amazon convey the rich flavor of these experiences, along with the nightmare that OUP calls “Tech Support”.

Then, in early 2007, OUP issued a software patch called “v3.1.1”, which confers two big benefits: it eliminates the 70-90 day revalidation requirement under “Windows 98SE, ME, NT4, 2000, and XP”; and it enables v3.1 under both 32- and 64-bit versions of Vista and 64-bit versions of XP. Owners of Release 2 v3.1 discs dated “2004,2005” (not “2004”) with key numbers FT39P-9UFX-L92Q or URAP9-Z2M9-R6EH only (these two keys seem to apply to most, maybe even all, of these discs) may download the v3.1.1 patch (read the instructions before applying the patch, and authenticate with your key number translated to lower case and no hyphens, i.e. ft39p9ufxl92q or urap9z2m9r6eh); otherwise obtain v3.1.1 by contacting OUP Tech Support. Owners of v3.1 discs dated “2004” are (or were) invited to return them to OUP Tech Support, in exchange for “Full” Version 2005 discs, to which the patch can then be applied (after uninstalling the 2004 version, and performing a “Full”, not “Typical”, reinstallation), or for newly remastered 2007 discs. Briefly, in March 2007, the UK v3.1 tech support website said: “If your OED v3.1 CDs do not show the date 2005, then you can exchange them for the OED v3.1 Release II free of charge, on receipt of the old ones. Please send CDs to … Technical Support with your name and address and the reason why you are sending them.” You may need to reinstall from scratch: instructions that accompanied one early set of disks required that this patch be applied before first use, and before entering the authentication code (supplied in a letter from OUP — you must contact OUP directly to obtain the code unless your key number, a.k.a. authentication/validation code, is one of the two numbers mentioned above); however, the current online instructions suggest that the OED may already be installed and running, and therefore reinstallation should be unnecessary (indeed, a newer version of the patch has been posted). All this complication seemed to arise as an interim emergency measure under the pressure of frustrated Vista users. Remastered disks of v3.1.1 dated 2007 incorporated these changes and obviated the need to apply any patch. v3.1.1 also upgraded CD-Cops to v1.71.

Altogether, v3.1.1 represented a rebirth of trust & openness at OUP: v3.1.1 was the first version of the OED since v1.11* (anno 1995) that could be freely installed on a hard disk without further hindrance. It works as advertised. Kudos to OUP, for restoring some sanity to their marketing. OUP appeared to be endeavoring to repair a battered reputation, to be reaching out generously to its customers at real cost in time, trouble, and money. v3.1.1 presaged the U-turn in DRM policy that emerged more clearly (if not quite completely) in v4…

The net result of v3.1.1 is software that works without annoyance. It isn’t particularly fast, and the interface is clumsy. But it’s the OED nonetheless — and you can install it on your hard disk.

Note that v3 will crash and ask you to reinstall the software(!) for the trivial reason that OED.INI (which resides in %SYSTEMROOT% or %windir%, e.g. C:\WINDOWS) is missing. This might happen if you overwrite OED.INI because you also run other versions of the OED, or if you aren’t privileged to write to %SYSTEMROOT%. Just use a plain-vanilla generic OED.INI to avoid this herculean task, with its array of CDs, verification, and what-not, then fine-tune the various options after you’re up and running. Something like this will suffice (set both [FILE PATHS] specs to the uppermost OED directory):




v3.1.1 uses 22 dedicated True Type fonts:

aribioup.ttf   66,520  1996/9/20  Arial OUP Bold Italic
ariboup.ttf    61,332  1996/9/20  Arial OUP Bold
arioup.ttf     64,548  1996/9/20  Arial OUP
aritoup.ttf    60,672  1996/9/20  Arial OUP Italic
hadas.ttf      45,028  1993/4/16  Monotype Hadassah
pi6oup.ttf     19,724  1996/9/20  Pi6OUP MT
pi7oup.ttf     28,756  1996/9/20  Pi7OUP MT
pi8oup.ttf     28,868  1996/9/20  Pi8OUP MT
pi9oup.ttf      3,840  1993/4/15  Pi9OUP MT
Pitenoup_.ttf  17,348  2001/4/26  PiTenOUP MT
PLAABI__.TTF   80,016  2001/8/15  Plantin for OUP Alt Bold Italic
PLAAB___.TTF   75,308  2001/3/15  Plantin for OUP Alt Bold
PLAAI___.TTF   81,036  2001/3/15  Plantin for OUP Alt Italic
PLAA____.TTF   74,552  2001/3/15  Plantin for OUP Alt
planboup.ttf   63,900  1996/9/20  Plantin OUP Bold
planioup.ttf   68,096  1996/9/20  Plantin OUP Italic
planoup.ttf    65,288  1996/9/20  Plantin OUP
planzoup.ttf   70,032  1996/9/20  Plantin OUP Bold Italic
plcoup97.ttf   27,192  1997/7/28  Plantin for OUP 97 Small Caps
porgrk.ttf     54,672  1996/9/20  Porson Greek OUP One
porgrk2.ttf    11,228  1996/9/20  Porson Greek OUP Two
tnrphon.ttf    29,024  1996/9/20  Times New Roman Phonetic
    Total:  1,096,980 bytes

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v3.x under Macintosh OSX and Linux

This alt.english.usage message states that “two of my customers have told me that [they] were able to get OED version 3.0 to run on a Mac using Microsoft’s Virtual PC product. In fact they both told me they got it to work without any special settings and the installation was easy.”

An OSX user writes (11/2006): “I just installed v3.0 onto a MacBook Pro (via Daemon Tools [with] Safedisk emulation checked, after applying Safedisc2Cleaner v1.20 to the SCRfrsh.exe infection) running Windows XP on Parallels Desktop. It works well. A Windows ‘print to pdf’ program delivers results to my OSX desktop via the OED ‘Print’ command.”

Another OSX user writes (4/2007): “I installed v3.1 [Release 2 dated 2005] in Parallels Desktop on machines configured with Windows XP and Windows Vista, and immediately ran the new [2007 v3.1.1] OUP software patch. I was asked to enter my CD-ROM sticker number, and everything works. This is great. No need for dual boot.”

The same user also experimented with Apple’s Boot Camp. He installed OED v3.1 Release 2 (using 2005 disks) under Windows Vista, and then applied the 2007 v3.1.1 software patch. “Everything works, as expected.”

Another OSX user was upgraded for free from v3.0 after complaining to OUP-US Customer Service about authentication problems: “v3.1.1 (2007 disks) works very nicely … on my Apple Powerbook, running Windows XP Professional via BootCamp.”

A Linux user, who for five years(!) had been trying to get various iterations of v3.x to run under SuSE and openSuSE, finally succeeded (2/2008) with OED v3.1.1 and 32-bit openSuSE 10.3. “I just used the technique of exhaustion: if at first it doesn’t work, do it again (and again, and again) in a different order, and hope for the best. Eventually, it worked.” To no avail, he had tried “Win4Lin, VMWare, Xen, CrossOverOffice, and Wine, repeating with each new release of SuSE, plus Mandrake/Mandriva and other Linux flavours.” Success came at last with VirtualBox OSE (open-source edition), a free Innotek product installed with openSuSE’s built-in YaST installation tool, hosting a WinXP Pro virtual machine.

“It should work — provided VirtualBox is installed correctly. VirtualBox only worked for me when the kernel-source and kernel-syms packages had been pre-installed with YaST before VirtualBox. (kernel-source and kernel-syms are not VirtualBox packages. YaST can find and install them, provided the appropriate repositories have been enabled. These can be found and enabled by following these instructions and doing what Jem Matzan says in the paragraphs ‘Adding sources to YaST’ and ‘Adding repo addresses’ – making sure that the openSuSE build service for VirtualBox repository is checked and added to the list. Accept and when prompted trust and import the key. Then it should all go OK.)

“When installing the WinXP Virtual Machine, I accepted all the defaults offered by VirtualBox. WinXP runs happily in 192MB allocated base memory.

“This is a ‘Full’ OED install, running without the Data CD in the drive. Speed is excellent (after the usual slow start). Typefaces are perfectly readable (though not perfect). When installing [OED v3.1.1 in the WinXP VM], first mount CD/DVD ROM from the ‘Devices’ menu in the Virtual Machine, then installation should proceed normally. When prompted for the Data Disc, remove the installation disc, unmount CD/DVD from the ‘Devices’ menu in the Virtual Machine, then insert the data disc and remount CD/DVD ROM. Do the same when prompted for the discs by CD-Cops.”

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Current OED Version 4.0

Pre-Purchase Considerations
The good news about version 4, released in May 2009, is that it installs to the hard disk and does not require periodic “verification”; and that there’s a native version for Macintosh OS X (but not for Linux or mobile devices — although, as usual, there’s a satisfactory Linux workaround). The bad news is that the Upgrade edition is Windows-only (the Full v4.0 version includes both Windows and Mac software), and moreover you can no longer Upgrade from either the Windows or the Macintosh releases of OED version 1, but only from Windows version 2 and up (for £78|US$79.95|¥15,000 from OUP, $63.72 at Amazon U.S. or about £39 – that’s half off the U.K. MSRP/RRP; note the incongruous £|$ pricing from OUP itself). Inter alia, this change of policy means that Mac users who bought the Mac version of OED v1 (for an astronomical price if you were an early purchaser) and have since jumped through formidable technical hoops to run the OED on their PPC and Intel Macs, are now being punished for OUP’s lengthy interval of neglect, and must purchase the Full version once again (for £169.57+VAT|US$295|¥40,000 MSRP) to obtain the first native Mac OED software since v1.0d. According to a U.S.-based customer service rep, this was a “marketing decision” and there is “no leniency”. However, on 6 January 2009, forums.macrumors.com contributor Nature1953 quoted a recently-received message from OUP: “Registered Users of the Version 1.0d Mac software such as yourself will be entitled to purchase this software for £127.17 plus VAT and £3.00 postage. This price includes a 25% discount off the standard price of £169.57 plus VAT and postage.” Moreover, several Europe-based OED users speaking by phone with U.K. customer service have successfully argued that they should not be obliged to purchase a Full version twice for (loosely-speaking) the same operating system; they have been sent the Full version at the Upgrade price. And a Japanese reseller states that Mac v1 users with proof of purchase may upgrade, apparently for ¥13,500. There is no mention of these ‘accommodations’ to old users on the U.K. website — indeed, as of 15 August 2009, the Windows v4 Upgrade CD is no longer mentioned or offered for sale there! Where did it go? (A few independent U.K. web booksellers do offer it – but for around £122, a veritable import price.) These confusing disparities in policy, pricing, availability, and conduct will be mighty irritating to a host of (especially North American) users (one particularly irate user “hope[s] their dogs die”), but a potential opportunity for others. (Another U.K. user writes: “I got a mailshot telling me that … as a registered user of an older version, I could get the new one for £78. I … placed my order immediately… The mailshot didn’t mention that the upgrade was Windows only, it was only the order acknowledgement email that admitted that, so I complained, and … the nice people at the OED very kindly offered to send me the full product at the upgrade price… As I mentioned to them, there are potentially a lot of their customers who want to switch from Windows to Mac. Don’t know why their US branch should be less helpful.”)

Technical Requirements (per OUP website)

Windows: Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz processor or equivalent (2GHz recommended); Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000
Macintosh: Power PC G4 867MHz or faster processor; Intel Core Duo 2.13GHz or faster processor; Mac OS X v.10.4x or 10.5x
All platforms: 512MB of RAM; 1Gb free hard disk space; minimum monitor capability: 1024 x 768 pixels and high color (16 bits per pixel, i.e. 65,536 colors); local CD-ROM/DVD drive (for installation); runs from hard drive only


Common elements

Pros: Neutral: Cons:


I invite reports and other opinions regarding v4.0.

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Networking the OED

N.B.: Do NOT network the OED on the WAN (Internet)! It is a fair assumption that you will be in violation of your OUP licence. Your licence may not even permit you to network a home LAN — you are hereby warned and advised to read your licence.

In all that follows, we tacitly assume that your LAN operates behind the security of a hardware router, to insulate you from Internet intruders, so that you can more safely open your private network to UNC file sharing (generally enabled on M$ computers by installing|activating the TCP/IP “File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks” [NetBIOS] component, or the old NetBEUI protocol).


There is no need for the special “Windows Network Version” 1.11* of the OED (notwithstanding the insert in the [handsome] OED v1 presentation case that offers a “NETWORKING VERSION AVAILABLE ON REQUEST”) — in fact, all v1.1x versions of OED.EXE can be easily networked under Win32. The OED itself, both DATa and EXEcutables, should be installed on a host machine, e.g. OED.EXE in subdirectory E:\OED, with OED2.DAT installed in the root directory of (for simplicity) the same drive (e.g. E:\). Make sure that “Sharing” of the OED drive (or specific drive:\[subdirectories]) on the Host (the server) is enabled for “Everybody”. On each local machine that will access the OED host, install the OED fonts in the operating system’s .\FONTS subdirectory (e.g. C:\WINDOWS\FONTS or C:\WINNT\FONTS) — the 18 or 20 small font files (less than 1 megabyte, about 830Kb, total) are the only element of OED that must be installed locally on every client machine. Then, on each local machine, remap the OED host installation to an unused local driveletter e.g. L: (but not X: Y: or Z: — these drives fail due to a bug!). Issue the following commands on each local (client) machine, using e.g. a BATch file, to launch the OED:
::	Check whether OED host already mapped to L:, otherwise map it!
if not exist L:\OED2.DAT NET USE L: \\host_IPaddress\E [password]
::	In Win9x, don’t use "if not exist …"; instead:
:: NET USE L: \\host_IPaddress\E [password] /YES
::	Mapping Examples:
::	… NET USE L: \\OEDSERVER\E meagain
::	… NET USE L: \\\E
::	… NET USE L: \\\E host_password
::	Set environment variable “OED”, otherwise OED.EXE won’t find dictionary file OED2.DAT
set OED=L:
::	Launch OED
cd \OED
start /wait L:\OED\OED.EXE
::	Optional: Delete the local driveletter
:: C:
:: set OED=

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Assuming that you’ve followed the procedures outlined above for basic v3.0 installation on a host [server] machine, the only program that you need to install manually on each local [client] machine is Daemon Tools. Copy OED.INI from the host machine to the local %WINDIR% or %SYSTEMROOT%, e.g. \WINDOWS [or \WINNT]. C-Dilla also will be automatically installed locally by OED v3.0 when it runs for the first time. But that’s a net storage space saving on each client of nearly 2GB! OED v3.0 does not need to be running or even mounted on the host.

A sample STARTOED.BATch file may clarify these procedures:

::	Mount the OED v3.0 image file
::	Dismount currently mounted image file, if any
DAEMON.EXE -unmount 0
::	Mount OED data
DAEMON.EXE -safedisc on -mount 0,"\\OEDSERVER\E\IMAGES\OED_CD_3.BWT [or .B5T]"
::	Check whether OED host already mapped to L:, otherwise map it!
if not exist L:\OEDV3\bin\* NET USE L: \\host_IPaddress\E\IMAGES [password]
::	Mapping Examples:
::	… NET USE L: \\\E\IMAGES host_password
::	Launch OED
cd \OEDV3\bin
start L:\OEDV3\bin\OEDCD_V3.EXE
On first run on each local machine, OED will want to validate the data “CD”. Just hit “Finish”. Again, the software construes your image file to be the actual data CD, and validates it.

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You need to verify and insert the data CD on this initial use only; thereafter the OED will run hands-off, and validation will survive hard reboots. The OED does not need to be running on the host. In sum, you save almost 2Gb of hard disk space on your local LAN machine(s).

A simple BATfile for use in local machine Shortcuts might look something like this (leave the Properties’ “Start in:” box empty, lest L:\OEDV311\Bin not yet exist — i.e. let the START command’s “/Dpath” argument perform the CHDIR maneuver):

@echo off
if not exist L:\OEDV311\Bin\oedcd_v3.exe NET USE L: \\HOSTMACHINENAME\E /USER:UserName password /PERSISTENT:YES
if not errorlevel 1 start /DL:\OEDV311\Bin L:\OEDV311\Bin\oedcd_v3.exe

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v4.0 – Windows:

A note on the v4.0 CD case says “This CD-ROM is non-networkable”, but in fact it is networkable in very similar fashion to v3.1.1, only simpler:

You save 655Mb of hard disk space on each local LAN machine, at the cost of infecting each local box with SecuROM.

A BATchfile for use in local machine Shortcuts would look something like this (leave the Properties’ “Start in:” box empty):

@echo off
if not exist E:\oed.exe NET USE E: "\\HOSTMACHINENAME\C\Program Files\OED v4.0" /USER:UserName password /PERSISTENT:YES
if not errorlevel 1 start /DE:\ E:\oed.exe

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Accessories for v1.1x

Macros: Spell check one word or View OED definition within Word Processors

Micro$oft Word: (OED.BAS Revision 11/27/05 to work with OEDXP.EXE)

OUP supplies a decent macro for Word v6+ with v1.14. Given a correctly formed INI file, the v1.14 macro works with v1.10 or v1.11* too. I make numerous changes to the macro script [view the source code]:

The macro operates on a selected word, substring, or phrase in M$Word; it looks the word up in the OED. It’s a smart macro: if nothing is selected it grabs the word under the text cursor (not the mouse cursor). If there are multiple instances of a word in the OED, it cross references them first (under DDE) or else stuffs the selected text into the appropriate list box and takes appropriate action depending on the type of list box (under OEDXP). Tested in Word97, Word2000, Word2002 SP2 (under Win2K SP4, and XP Pro SP1 and SP2).

Download WORDMACR.ZIP, and unZIP all three constituent files (OED.BAS, OEDButtonImage.BMP, and OED.INI.sample) in the OED directory. WORDMACR.ZIP includes a tiny M$Word Toolbar icon (employed below) for the OED, plus a sample OED.INI file.

Or v1.13 and v1.14 users also need to add Read-only file protection to OED.INI after they have configured it — see this “Important Note for v1.13|v1.14 Users”.

If you are installing this OED macro for the first time, then:

If you are refreshing the code of an already-installed OED macro, then:

Word Tweaks & Options:

Assign macro to a M$Word keystroke: Tools → Customize… → Keyboard → Categories: → Macro → select “OEDV1” in “Macros:” listbox → “Press new shortcut key” (make sure it is “[unassigned]”!) → Assign.

Add macro to M$Word Toolbar: Tools → Customize… → Commands → Categories → Macros → select “OEDV1” in the “Commands” box → drag it with LMB [LeftMouseButton] to the Action Toolbar position you like → RMB on the text “Normal.OEDV1.OED” in Toolbar → set checkmark to “Default Style” → and then… (don’t close the “Tools → Customize…” window yet!)

Replace the default icon in the M$Word Toolbar with an “OED Button Image” (tiny version of the OED splash screen): launch your basic Windows Imaging tool (Micro$oft Paint maybe, MSPAINT.EXE), open OEDButtonImage.BMP (extract from WORDMACR.ZIP) → Edit → “Select All” (Ctrl-A) → Copy the button image (Ctrl-C) → close image editor. Now, with “Tools → Customize…” still open, RMB on the new OED button in Toolbar → “Paste Button Image” → Close.

Lastly, create a v1.14-level OED.INI like this with a “Wait=” variable+value added to the “[Macro]” stanza. Locate OED.INI in %WINDIR% or %SYSTEMROOT%, e.g. C:\WINDOWS [or C:\WINNT]. OED.INI supplies (for the use of DDE) the “Application” name, the filename+file location, the “Topic”, and the rough duration (in full seconds) from launch until the blue splash screen with the Oxford shield disappears and you see the Lookup screen (this represents what we’ve been calling “initialization time”).

Important Note for v1.13|v1.14 Users:
v1.13 and v1.14 tamper sneakily with OED.INI when it launches. They change the line “ExeName=STARTOED.BAT[or OEDXP.EXE, etc]” to “ExeName=OED.EXE” during initialization. This results in word processing macros that fail to launch OED (incur GPF in OED.EXE). The simple solution is to set OED.INI to Read-Only status — command from DOS:

Thus, file OED.INI can’t be changed (and v1.13|v1.14 accept this without protest).

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Star Office or OpenOffice.org:

Get DDE macro here or here (Thanks to the author, Andrew Brown). This macro needs some manual adjustment for your drive:\path\filename.

WordPerfect for DOS v6.x:

Download WPDS6OED.ZIP, which contains a WordPerfect macro OED.WPM that operates much like the macro for M$Word. Locate this macro in WP’s “Macros Personal Path” folder (Shift-F1, 5-Location of Files, 2-Macros/Keyboard, 1-Personal Path). Additional Requirements: a correctly formed, v1.14-level OED.INI file with a “Wait=” variable+value added to the “[Macro]” stanza; a copy of OEDLOOKP.EXE (an older executable, now superseded by OEDXP.EXE, but still used by this WP-DOS macro — read OEDLOOKP.TXT in the ZIPfile for full information [629] ), located in the same directory as OED.EXE; and two general-purpose utilities, KMD.EXE and GoWP.EXE, located in the DOS Path (optimally in the \WINDOWS\system[32] directory).

Two “User Variables” must be configured in macro OED.WPM, indicating the directory in which OED.EXE and OEDLOOKP.EXE are to be found, and also a behavioral choice (see the macro for details). If you intend to use OED.WPM frequently, assign it to a keystroke in the WP keyboard file: Shift-F1, 5-Keyboard Layout.

Either Block (select) a word or string, or simply position your cursor upon any word, and execute OED.WPM (Alt-F10), for instantaneous lookup.

Macros for v5.1 for DOS or WP for Windows can be adapted readily from this v6 template; the source code is here. I will build a v5.1 macro if there is interest.

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XyWrite for Windows:

Dynamic Data Exchange [DDE] is the native interprocess (argument-passing) communication method of OED v1.1x. XyWin is the only XyWrite|NotaBene version to fully implement DDE. With the XyWWWeb.U2 programming package installed, DeFine the lookup word, then command:
Alternatively, establish a dedicated OED lookup key:
N.B.: The OED must be already running in another window! In contrast, the next macro, for Xy4 or NBWin, launches OED v1.1x if it is not running (and simply stuffs a Word Look-Up when OED is running). That macro also works under XyWin.

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XyWrite v4+ or NotaBene for Windows:

Requires the XyWWWeb.U2 programming package. XyShell (a U2 add-on which uses ObjectRexx) is optional (OED lookups work perfectly without XyShell).

Assign routine “oed[dos]” in U2 to a key in your KBD file:

nn=NOJM2,.,o,e,d,d,o,s,Q2  <== without XyShell
nn=NOJM2,.,o,e,d,Q2        <== with XyShell
CAll file XyWWWeb.REG. Set U2 REGistry Variable “OED” to point (OED=d:\path) at the subdirectory which contains OED.EXE, e.g.:
Set U2 REGistry Variable “EXE_or_VBS” to use either an EXEcutable (faster under NT4/2000/XP/Vista) or Visual Basic Script (faster under 9x) to perform the OED word lookup, e.g.:
EXE_or_VBS=E  <== use OEDXP.EXE executable
EXE_or_VBS=V  <== use OED.VBS Visual Basic script
Xy4|NB Usage:
Select an OED word to look-up in XyWrite|NBWin (in order of priority):
1) DeFine word(s) to lookup in text
2) Type lookup word(s) on CMline (nothing DeFined!)
3) Place cursor on a word in Text (nothing DeFined!)

Hit your dedicated OED Lookup key, as configured above
Manual (CMline) Syntax:
oeddos [lookup_word(s)]<Helpkey>  <== Win32 without XyShell
oed [lookup_word(s)]<Helpkey>     <== Win32 with XyShell

OEDXP.EXE is more than a mere macro adjunct; it is a general-purpose utility that passes a “Lookup Word” argument from a DOS command line to OED v1.1x. If OED.EXE is not running, OEDXP starts the dictionary, then pauses briefly to let the OED load, then passes the specified Lookup Word to OED.

OEDXP.EXE will work with any application — e.g. XyWrite, NB, or other word processors — which can select a word and pass it to a DOS command. Unlike its predecessor OEDLOOKP.EXE or OUP-authored word processor macros (which all used Dynamic Data Exchange [DDE] to convey a Lookup word to the OED), this new OEDXP.EXEcutable manipulates the OED screen directly through native Windows services and APIs. It is faster, smarter, more flexible — and it works around a swarm of potential bugs.


See the OEDXP Command Summary, below.


' OED.VBS for XyWrite|NotaBene & Windows Scripting v5.x+ [VBS]
' R.J.Holmgren  11/10/01 LastRev.7/3/04
' Syntax:
' [d:\path\]{c|w}script.exe //nologo [d:\path\]oed.vbs LookUp_Word[s]

dim arg,OED,WshShell,word
set arg=Wscript.Arguments
for a=0 to arg.Count-1
  word=word&" "&trim(arg(a))
if len(word)>0 then
  if len(word)>60 then word=mid(word,1,59)
  set WshShell=Wscript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
  WshShell.Run OED,1
' Adjust the Sleep duration, in milliseconds, to your machine speed:
  Wscript.Sleep (900)
  WshShell.SendKeys Chr(94)&"w"
  WshShell.SendKeys word
  WshShell.SendKeys Chr(94)&"l"
  WshShell.SendKeys "{ENTER}"
  WScript.Echo "Look-up word not supplied"
  end if
An entirely different scheme is implemented for OS/2; see the U2 Help file for details (command on the CMline: “HELP OED<Helpkey>”).

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Auto-Lookup: something interesting from OED v3.x that can be adapted to v1

The only (optional) feature of v3.x that I find occasionally useful is that v3.x can monitor the clipboard incessantly, and when a new word appears on it, OED v3.x can automatically look that word up. If you turn this feature on (via “Options → Auto-search from clipboard”), v3.x launches a little freestanding program called AutoLookup.exe (with its required DblClickHook.dll). AutoLookup is misnamed; it doesn’t actually do any looking-up, but simply Copies any double-clicked (selected) word to the system clipboard, where v3.x (if running in aforementioned “auto-search from clipboard” mode) senses the new arrival and looks it up. AutoLookup is a very simple program (= Ctrl-C keystroke), and appears to be a third-party creation (no Copyright holder identified). Two points:

Although v1.1x uses DDE instead of the clipboard to pipe a lookup query into the OED engine, elementary programming can splice the abovementioned concepts together to produce auto-lookups of clipboard text in OED v1. If you don’t have AutoLookup.exe, use Ctrl-C to put words on the clipboard after double-clicking them (one extra keystroke only).

The following is written in (free) WSH (Windows Scripting Host), because the language is installed on almost all modern M$ boxes (or get the latest versions: Win95 OSR2, Win98 WinME and WinNT 4.0, Win2000 and WinXP, plus Documentation). You need one additional component (also freeware): AutoItX3.dll. Put AutoItX3.dll (an Active X control that can read the clipboard) in the system directory %WINDIR%|%SYSTEMROOT%\system[32], and register it with your system, i.e. command from DOS:

REGSVR32 AutoItX3.dll
Then put this script in a file:
' OEDCLIP.VBS for Windows Scripting v5.x+ [VBS]
' Fetch word from Clipboard, pass lookup query to OED v1
' Requires AutoItX3.dll (freeware) from www.hiddensoft.com
' Optionally uses AutoLookup.exe (+ DblClickHook.dll) from OED v3.x
' R.J.Holmgren  6/18/03 LastRev.7/3/04
' Syntax:
' [d:\path\]{c|w}script.exe //nologo [d:\path\]oedclip.vbs

dim OED,WshShell,text,word,x
set WshShell=Wscript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
set AutoIt=CreateObject("AutoItX3.Control")
  do until word<>text
    Wscript.Sleep (1000)
  if len(word)>0 then
    if len(word)>59 then word=left(word,59)
    x=InStr(1,word," ",1)
    if x>1 then word=left(word,x-1)
    WshShell.Run OED,1
    Wscript.Sleep (600)
    WshShell.SendKeys Chr(94)&"w"
    WshShell.SendKeys word
    WshShell.SendKeys Chr(94)&"l"
    WshShell.SendKeys "{ENTER}"
    WScript.Echo "Look-up word not supplied"
    end if
Store the script as file OEDCLIP.VBS in the same subdirectory as OED v1.1x executables, e.g. \OED. If running OED from a remote server, put the script on the server too, or else replace the line above that locates “OED” (OED=left(text,InStrRev(text,"\",-1,1))&"OED.EXE") with hard code, e.g.:
Start AutoLookup (if you have it), then launch the script from a DOS command line or shortcut with:
[d:\path\]cscript.exe //nologo [d:\path\]oedclip.vbs
Or automate the process with a BATch file:
rem Script assumes that AutoItX3.dll has already been registered with REGSVR32
d:				<== Adjust “d:”
CD \OED			<== Adjust “\path”
rem START AUTOLOOKUP.EXE	<== Delete “rem” if you have this file
START /MIN D:\WINDOWS[or WINNT]\SYSTEM32\CSCRIPT.EXE //nologo D:\OED\OEDCLIP.VBS	<== Adjust both “d:\paths\”
ECHO Ctrl-C stops OEDClip cscript
Any word you double-click (or Copy) summons an OED definition! Pretty neat. Terminate the WSH script with Ctrl-C; kill AutoLookup.exe by right-clicking on the “DoubleClickToClipboard” icon in the SysTray → Exit. Note that, unlike the v3.x facility, this script launches a lookup even if the OED is not initially running. Slower and faster machines may require adjustment of the 600ms “Wscript.Sleep” duration (noticeable especially when OED is first opened).

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Kill the Splash Screen

Tired of seeing that big blue Oxford shield flash by when you launch? Replace OED_LOGO.BMP with this opaque gray screen (Splash_Gray_BMP.zip), which works with screen resolutions up to 1920x1280 pixels. Backup|REName your original OED_LOGO.BMP before UnZIPing this package!

Lost Your OED Fonts?

Download all twenty (20) of the OED2 v1.10 or v1.11* fonts from the University of Nottingham. Extract only the TTFs (True Type fonts) from this self-executing ZIPfile, and discard the BAT, EXE, INI, and TXT files. Even if you don’t use the OED, these are handsome TT fonts, with some hard-to-find characters, e.g. the Middle English yogh. (The Windows v1.14 software ZIP downloadable from OUP contains different fonts, so can’t use this font package.)

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Accessories for v3.x

Macros: Spell check one word or View OED definition within Word Processors

Micro$oft Word: (OEDV3ON.BAS 12/27/07 and OEDV3.BAS 7/8/08)

Download two sophisticated v3.x macros for Microsoft Word for Windows NT+ (NT, 2000, XP, and up). The procedure for installing either or both of these v3 macros into Word is identical to the procedure for v1.1x. The two flavors operate quite differently, and you should read both descriptions before deciding which one to use (if any). They are both works-in-progress, and comment is welcome.

The native method of passing a word look-up to OED v3.x is via the System Clipboard. This approach is fraught with problems. Every word or string placed on the Clipboard, for whatever purpose, by whichever application, is passed to the OED. You can’t move words around in your document, or multitask in intensive Cut-and-Paste apps, without performing an OED look-up (albeit often in background, where you’re blissfully unaware that it’s happening — although on the other hand, what else is new in Windows? an immense amount of stuff is happening all the time in background). Probably for this very reason, the native method does not switch focus to the OED when you double-click a word (even though that has triggered a look-up) — you must manually click or Alt-Tab to switch focus to the OED and view the result.

Both of these macros automatically launch the OED if it is not already running – they wait the precise amount of time required by this bloated v3 leviathan to initialize, and then they look-up the word, hands-off (sit back and be patient!). Neither macro can be used to close the OED – you must stop OED manually. Both macros automatically switch focus to the OED, and because Word is the adjacent Z-order app, a simple Alt-Tab takes you back to your Word document. On termination, both restore your preexisting OED “Auto-search from clipboard” default if your personal setting (your preference, established in the OED’s “Options” tab) is the opposite of the setting required by the macro (ON for macro 1, OFF for macro 2) – a tiny VBS program runs in background to perform this service. If your default is the opposite of the macro requirement, then to restore your preferred behavior, you must manually stop the OED, wait up to 15 seconds for your preferred “AUTO_SEARCH=ON/OFF” setting (in OED.INI) to be restored, and then relaunch OED. Both macros can readily be altered to omit their look-up confirmation dialogs if you find them annoying (the confirmation dialogs allow you to change a word like “expungible”, which is not found in the OED, to the root word “expunge”, or to look-up any random word, whether or not it appears in your text).

This macro uses the built-in “Auto-search from clipboard” feature, but tries to temper its craziness. It assumes that you only want Clipboard look-ups while running Microsoft Word, i.e. that you have unchecked (turned OFF, and then Saved!) the “Auto-search from clipboard” checkbox on the OED “Options” tab. It turns Clipboard look-ups ON when you open the OED for the first time using this macro, and it subsequently turns Clipboard look-ups OFF when you close this instance of the OED. If you launch and use the OED outside of Microsoft Word, or you launch OED manually while Word is running, the Clipboard will (probably, if you’re wise) be OFF. In short, Clipboard lookups will only be active if you start up the OED by launching this macro while running Word. The negative side of this arrangement is that, while this OED instance is running, the OED will look up every item that enters the Clipboard, whether you use the macro or not.

2) OEDV3.BAS:   Recommended
This alternative macro pokes data into the OED in a less intrusive manner. It does not use the Clipboard — indeed, it requires that Clipboard Copying be turned OFF by default in the OED, and it will not work correctly if the OED is already running with Clipboard Copying ON. This macro pokes look-up words into the OED using SendKeys (emulated keyboard) commands. The downsides are that (a) you must use the macro to perform a look-up (OED will not respond to Copy commands), and (b) it may not work in Vista (untested – I have seen reports that SendKeys doesn’t work correctly in Vista). In every other respect, it is the preferred macro. Allowing the OED to react to every Copy command you issue, globally across your computer à la macro 1), is insane unless you only word process.

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Change the screen background colors

“I was reviewing your web page on the OED CD versions, the latest of which I just acquired. Do you know if there is a tweak to change the background color in the main window (currently some shade of yellow) to another color (I would prefer light gray)? Do you happen to know which file contains the color settings for the program?”


“I doubt that colors are user-adjustable by any overt means (although certainly OUP could make them adjustable, if they wished). The yellow background colors displayed are #FFFF99 and #FFFFCC (hex). Behind all the encryption and security are simple XML pages, which use the ordinary syntax of:


etc. If (if!) you’re comfortable using a hex editor like FRHED (freeware), all you need to do is patch OED3.EXE (filenamed OED31.EXE in some versions) and replace all instances of the text string (not hex sequence) “FFFF99” with something like “CFCDCD”, and “FFFFCC” with maybe “DCD8D8”, and voilà you’ve got two gray background colors (the main light shade, and a slightly more intense shade for highlighted areas of the page). The deep blue OUP splash color is “000033”, default text is “0709C1”. These edits do not trigger CD-Cops. In order to not waste a lot of time with experimentation, go to an online HTML color generator (Google it) and determine hex codes for the actual colors you want, not the example colors above. I would create with Notepad a simple HTML file that displays a full page of any selected color, so that you can assess how it looks — the little sample patch displayed by an online color generator will not convey the full-page impact of a single background color — something like this:

and then Open this file in your browser. Note that the initial startup search screen (“Welcome to OED CD-Rom”) will still be yellow, but all the result screens (the definitions) will be gray. There are probably a few other files where the color could be changed for a more thorough makeover (e.g. pages where you have to pick among several results, but don’t yet see a definition, are still partially yellow); I haven’t investigated further…

Be !!SURE!! to make a backup copy of the original OED3.EXE before you attempt this!

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Major v1.1x Bugs

General Protection Faults: Printer Driver Incompatibilities (and Fixes)

OED v1.1x will not run unless a printer driver is installed. You don’t need to have an actual hardware printer attached to your machine, but at minimum you do need to install a printer driver and then assign it as your “default printer”. The Fax printer driver usually does not satisfy this requirement. The “Generic / Text” printer driver (installation described below) is the best candidate in this no-printer situation, because it does not trigger a GPF, and because it is innocuous (it simply “prints” any data to a text file — no printing-to-paper occurs). N.B.: The above applies only to machines that have no installed printer!

Printer drivers authored by Hewlett Packard (and other manufacturers, such as Lexmark, Samsung, etc) are often incompatible with OED v1 (and with v2-v3, though for different reasons — see solution above). If one of these is set as the current “default” printer (driver), OED.EXE crashes (General Protection Fault) when it starts to load. You’ll see two successive error messages:

GPF Messages

General Protection Faults (GPFs) are reported at a variety of addresses, e.g. 0006:E8BA, 0007:6114, and others. Under XP, I have also seen fatal “memory could not be written” errors, reported just like the “Application Error” message displayed by v3. These are increasingly common problems which, for many owners, seem to bring use of v1.1x to an insurmountable dead end. But, in fact, fixes are several and simple. (N.B.: The backward “Compatibility” settings available in XP and Win2000 “Properties” are NOT the solution — although that is often the first potential fix that afflicted users explore.)

Equivalent printer drivers authored by Micro$oft (e.g. those that are “built-in” to an M$ operating system) do not manifest printer incompatibility. If an equivalent M$ driver exists, or you’re willing to use a backlevel driver (e.g. for an earlier model LaserJet), you can delete the current H-P (or whatever) driver and install a Micro$oft replacement.

Unfortunately, an “equivalent” M$ driver is often unavailable (e.g. for newly marketed printers), or the M$ driver may not support all features of the printer. In that event, the solution — a more satisfactory solution than the above for modern printers — is to swap default printer drivers for a few seconds while OED.EXE initializes, temporarily assigning “default” status to a driver that is compatible with the OED, and then (in background) to restore the original default driver as soon as the OED is up and running.

Alternatively, several very simple fixes — temporarily disabling the printer spooler — exist for users of Windows NT4, 2000, XP, and Vista (and for 9x|ME, with installation of a special printer driver) if networking [Internet connectivity, or a LAN] is installed: see the “Start OED Solution for Windows 9x (95, 98, ME)”, below, or skip to the better “Start OED Solution for Windows NT+|9x”, or to the preferred “OEDXP.EXE: Start OED Solution for Windows NT+|9x (Vista, Server, XP, 2000, NT4, ME, 9x” (otherwise, if no networking is installed, apply the following Win9x solution on NT+ machines).

STARTOED.BAT Solution for Windows 9x (95, 98, ME):

If a Fax printer driver was installed by the operating system, you can try to test the proposition that printer driver conflicts are the cause of OED’s crash, by temporarily setting Fax as Default (Control Panel → Printers → right-click on “Fax” → “Set as Default Printer”), then attempting to launch OED.EXE. Note that the Fax driver works for some people but not for others, whereas the “Generic / Text” driver, described below, always works, but usually needs to be installed from the operating system installation CD.

Here’s a recipe for an automated workaround (hands-off launching of OED; restores your original printer driver as Default):

If an M$-authored Fax printer driver is already installed (and works!), you may skip the
(indented) steps below (which install a “Generic / Text” driver — a useful thing
to have for non-OED purposes, actually); otherwise…

	Go to Control Panel → Printers → Add printer
	Add a “Local printer”
	Do NOT check “Automatically detect & install PnP”
	Use Port “FILE”
	Use Manufacturer “Generic”
	Use Printer driver “Generic / Text Only”
	Insert an operating system CD if necessary…
	Continue to Finish installing the Generic / Text driver

Download OED-GPF.ZIP, which collects required (freeware) executables together in a
single ZIPfile: DELAY.EXE, by Douglas Good (originally from DLYWFT10.ZIP, which
has recently disappeared from the Net); and the SDP15 package, a.k.a. “Set Default Printer”,
by Edward Brophy (obtained originally from a Simtel site).

Extract DELAY.EXE, SDP.EXE, and SDP.INI into the same directory as OED.EXE, e.g. d:\OED

Go to a DOS command prompt in d:\OED
  Command:  SDP<EnterKey>
SDP will report the names of all the printer drivers which you have installed.
Make note of a unique substring of two reported printer devices:
  “Generic / Text Only” (a suitable substring is “Generic”)
  your incompatible printer
You’ll use these substrings when calling SDP in the STARTOED.BATch file that you create, below.

Edit SDP.INI to say:
(The SDP.INI file in OED-GPF.ZIP is already prepared thus.)

Write a BATch file called STARTOED.BAT, and put it in a directory in the PATH,
e.g. “C:\WINDOWS” or “C:\WINNT\system32”:

  d:				<== Adjust “d:” drive to that of the OED EXEcutable
  CD "\OED"			<== Adjust “\path” to ditto
  SDP.EXE Generic		<== [or “Fax”]
  START "d:\OED\OED.EXE"	<== Adjust “drive:\path\OED.EXE” to ditto
  DELAY.EXE 6 >NUL		<== Adjustable delay, in whole seconds
  SDP.EXE {sub$tring_of_SDP-reported_devicename_for_incompatible_printer_driver}
(Procedure continues below…)

STARTOED.BAT[or .CMD]: Start OED Solution for Windows NT+ (NT4, 2000, XP, Vista):

A simpler alternative for users operating under Windows NT4/2000/XP/Vista if networking is installed is to download OED-GPF.ZIP, extract DELAY.EXE into the same directory as OED.EXE, and then use the following BATch file format (modified to reflect your drives:\paths, of course) to launch OED.EXE — no printer driver swapping necessary! (thanks to Alexandre Kaoukhov for this idea, and to Peter Weinstein for pointing out that the fax service should be stopped first, if running, because it is interdependent with the print spooler)
d:				<== Adjust “d:” drive to that of the OED EXEcutable
CD "\OED"			<== Adjust “\path” to ditto
NET.EXE STOP Fax >NUL 2>&1	<== If fax service is running, only
NET.EXE STOP Spooler >NUL 2>&1
START /MIN "d:\OED\OED.EXE"	<== Adjust “drive:\path\OED.EXE” to ditto
DELAY.EXE 4 >NUL		<== Adjustable delay, in whole seconds
NET.EXE START Spooler >NUL 2>&1
NET.EXE START Fax >NUL 2>&1	<== !ONLY! if fax service was running!
“>NUL” inhibits display of STDOUT start/stop messages; the “2>&1” gimmick inhibits STDERR error messages, e.g. if you attempt to stop a service which isn’t running.

You may need to determine and use the exact names of the fax and print spooler services under your operating system: command “NET START |MORE” for a list of running services. If the name contains a space, enclose it in quotes, e.g.:

NET.EXE STOP "Fax Service" >NUL 2>&1
NET.EXE STOP "Print Spooler" >NUL 2>&1
NET.EXE START "Print Spooler" >NUL 2>&1
NET.EXE START "Fax Service" >NUL 2>&1

Under either of the “STARTOED.BAT strategies” above, make a new Desktop shortcut for STARTOED.BAT. In XP, for example, delete any old Shortcut icon for the OED that you may have on your Desktop (right-click on it, “Delete”). Right-click on an empty area of Desktop, and select “New” → “Shortcut”.

Type the location of the item:	d:\OED\STARTOED.BAT
Type a name for the shortcut:	Oxford English Dictionary
Click “Finish”. A new Desktop shortcut icon should appear. Right click on it, and select “Properties” (at the bottom of the context menu). Select the “Shortcut” tab. Fill in the blanks:
Start in:	d:\OED
Shortcut key:	None [or whatever you want]
Run:		Minimized
Click “Apply”. Then click on “Change Icon”. Where it says “Look for icons in this file”, enter (or “Browse” to) “d:\OED\OED.EXE”, then click “Open”. In the big box labeled “Select an icon from the list below”, you should see the blue Oxford shield. Select (highlight) it by left-clicking on it. Click “OK” to close the Change Icon dialog. Click “OK” to close Properties.

OED launches almost instantaneously, with no on-screen BATfile garbage displayed, just as if you were running OED.EXE directly.

If you have a fast machine, you can reduce (or increase if necessary) the seconds argument passed to DELAY. In principle, all you need to do is DELAY long enough to get past OED.EXE’s initializing printer check, then you can reset the default back to the original, “incompatible” printer driver. 6 seconds on a slooow NT4 machine is probably plenty.

OEDXP.EXE: Start OED Solution for Windows NT+|9x (Vista, Server, XP, 2000, NT4, ME, 9x):
(Revised v3.1.8 – 21 February 2006. Added: OEDXP also looks for OED.EXE in “Program Files\OED”; new optional check for correct Files and Fonts installation; Fixed: crashed if CD drives lack disks during file searches) [4110]

This is really simple: download OEDXP.EXE, and start the OED with OEDXP.EXE instead of OED.EXE (use OEDXP in a Shortcut, in a BATch file, in a parent application macro, or on the DOS command line). You don’t need to set the “OED” environment variable. You don’t need to install special printer drivers (except perhaps under 9x). You don’t need OED.INI. Often you don’t need to do anything — you just locate OEDXP in the same directory as OED.EXE, and you launch it.

Details: OEDXP performs three functions: it launches the OED v1.1x under Win32 and quietly overcomes all aspects of printer driver incompatibility; it focuses the OED application if it is already running; and/or it performs word lookups (as, formerly, did OEDLOOKP.EXE), which is especially useful when the OED is already running. It automatically finds both the OED data file OED2.DAT [if in any root directory on any drive C: through Z:], and the OED executable [search order: 1) the directory in which OEDXP is located, 2) any subdirectory, immediately below the root, named \OED on drive C: through Z:, or 3) an OED subdirectory of your system’s "Program Files" directory, e.g. in C:\Program Files\OED]; these assumptions can be overridden with runtime switches (command “OEDXP /?” at a DOS prompt or see the command summary below for more info and examples). The switches obviate the need for an OED.INI file (although you still may need an INI file for certain word processing macros). For example, if your data file is in a root directory (where it should be) but your OED executables are in “C:\Oxford\OED” rather than a simple “\OED” subdirectory of the root, you must command:

OEDXP /E="C:\Oxford\OED"
The duration of the initialization delay is now (in OEDXP v3.1+) determined internally (OEDXP’s old “/S#” switch is removed in OEDXP v3.1+). In rare cases, if you shell to DOS to run OEDXP from an old application that has a primitive built-in COMMAND.COM-type command processor, you may find that the old application’s shell function restores focus to the calling application, thereby frustrating OEDXP’s insistence that the OED be the foreground application; you can overcome this behavior by using the “/W” switch, which forces OED to the fore until you close the OED. Alternatively, you can use the new “/I#” switch, introduced in v3.1+ for the benefit of (mainly) old DOS and Win16 programs (XyWrite, WordPerfect, etc) that shell temporarily to DOS within their own memory space in order to launch or switch focus to the OED. The “/I#” switch commands OEDXP to “Idle” (do nothing) for specified milliseconds, to permit a DOS “START” command, e.g. cmd.exe /c start oedxp.exe /i900 (or, in Win9x|ME, kmd.exe /c start oedxp.exe /i1500), to terminate and thereby restore focus to the original calling executable before the OED launches and switches focus to itself; otherwise, the OED might launch, but focus would immediately revert back to the calling program.

Version 3 of OEDXP.EXE works with all 32-bit versions of Windows: 95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Server/Vista. Under Win9x|ME, it assumes that you have installed a “Generic / Text Only” printer driver, or another driver that does not incur a GPF (any driver except the default “Generic / Text Only” driver requires the “/P=” switch). Try the “/K” or sKip switch first; it may be that the computer will launch the OED without fussing with the printer (my 95|98 machines all do):

If that fails, then try all your currently-installed Printer drivers (using the “/P=” switch) before you start installing new drivers: one of them might work. If you want to list the internal Names of your currently installed drivers, use the “/N” switch (under 9x|ME only — ignored by NT+):
then try each driver individually with the “/P=” switch, e.g.:
OEDXP /P="Fax"

OEDXP v3.1.4+ introduces additional intelligence to the engine. If the Look-up Word is not an exact match for the word found by the OED, or if it is not a main heading, OEDXP automatically searches for the root of the word you seek. For example, if your “Word Look-up” is “plant”, the OED finds first “caustic bush, plant, vine” — the main heading is “caustic, a. and n.”. The first occurrence of noun “plant” is actually the seventh entry in the Word List — and OEDXP goes right to it. The rules:

  • 1. OEDXP searches up to ten entries below the initial entry, and then ten entries above the initial entry, looking for either a main heading that is a Left-string of the Look-up Word, or a Look-up Word that is a Left-string of the main heading — if no match is located, it returns to the initial entry;
  • 2. After (if) OEDXP has found the first real match, it checks whether there are any identical matches among the look-up word that you supplied, the main heading, and the selected word in the dictionary window. If two of these items are identical, then OEDXP assumes that an entry or sub-entry in the dictionary window is a match for your Look-up Word — otherwise OEDXP jumps to the top of the dictionary window (if it isn’t already there), i.e. the beginning of the dictionary entry.
Don’t be oblivious to ligatures. If your Look-up Word contains a diæresis, then use it: e.g. dæmon, not daemon.

Note that these “smarts” are only applied if you are performing a Word Look-up; if you are searching for Quotations or Etymologies, etc, OEDXP does not intervene (OED.EXE does all the work).

Keep in mind two things about OEDXP: First, if the OED loads normally without GPFs, then you do not need OEDXP — although you may still want to use it for its Word Look-up conveniences and for word processing macros (you can omit swapping printer drivers or disabling the spooler with the “/K” sKip switch, although ironically this increases initialization time under NT because OED.EXE conducts lengthy printer checks that are unnecessary if the printing subsystem is inoperative — the “/K” switch is intended primarily for Win9x where, unlike NT, a printer driver is required). Second, OEDXP does not remove the requirement to use a virtual CD with v1.13 and v1.14 if you want to run the OED from a hard disk — but virtual CDs have nothing to do with GPFs, whereas OEDXP is designed to defeat GPFs, and it works fine with virtual CDs.

	General DOS Command-Line Usage of OEDXP.EXE:

oedxp.exe [/?] [/D=["]d:\path_to_OED2.DAT["]] [/E=["]d:\path_to_OED.EXE["]] [/P=["]Printername["]] …
	… [/F] [/L] [/N] [/I#] [/K] [/W] [Lookup_Text]
/?			Help command summary
/D=["]d:\path["]	Path to Datafile OED2.DAT [default = search all root dirs on drives C: - Z:]
/E=["]d:\path["]	Path to Executable OED.EXE [default = current dir of OEDXP, else search
			  for a "d:\OED" subdir on C: - Z:, else search in
			  system dir "Program Files\OED"]
/I#	Milliseconds to Idle before executing OEDXP [default = 0]
/K	sKip disabling/swapping of printer driver(s)
/W	Wait for OED.EXE to terminate (prevent premature return to parent that
	  calls OEDXP as a child process)
/L	start search in the “Word Look-up” dialog (for selection of “Words,
	  Phrases etc, Variant Forms, Phonetics, Greek, Date Filter, Part of
	  Speech Filter”) instead of the “Word List” dialog
/F	check whether correct Files and Fonts for your specific OED version are
	  installed and recognized by the Operating System (works only when the OED
	  is not running; may also require /D and|or /E switches)
		Win 9x|ME Only:
/N	List installed printer Names
/P=["]Printername["]	Alternate Printer that does not incur GPF in OED.EXE [default="Generic / Text Only"]

oedxp						Launch or Focus the OED
oedxp palimpsest				Lookup word
oedxp /d=V:\ /e=W:\OED				Accelerate launch (by omitting file search)
oedxp /d=E:\OEDDAT /e=E:\OEDV110		Specify path (only) to unusual file locations
oedxp /d="C:\OED Data File" /e="C:\Program Files\Oxford"	ditto
oedxp /p="EPSON Stylus C60 Series"		Indicate alternate (non-GPF) Printer to load temporarily
						  (default="Generic / Text Only") [Win 9x|ME Only]
oedxp /n					List installed printer Names [Win 9x|ME Only]
oedxp /i1000 papion	Idle for 1 second (1000ms); permit DOS "START" session to
			  end before focusing on OED
oedxp /k		Using good printer drivers (no GPF)
oedxp /w expapillate
oedxp /e=F:\OXFORD /f	Check Files & Fonts installation (OEDXP *must* find
			  OED2.DAT and OED.EXE first, in order to check Files/Fonts)
oedxp /?		Help

All switches except Lookup word and /i (Idle) are ignored if the OED is already running
N.B.: Path and Printer specs that include spaces MUST be enclosed in quotes!

Note that if you suffer from printer driver incompatibility, you will be unable to Print directly from the OED to your printer. Instead, paste text from the OED into another application, e.g. Notepad, and then print from there.

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The “Greek Font” problem (and other strange occurrences)

If the OED displays Greek characters only, or if the “Word List” (or Language List, Authors List) turns into a black hole, or all text suddenly displays in italics, then the OED’s fonts have not been installed correctly — or they have “gone astray” (gotten lost somehow). Many users, new and old, experience this problem, and the fix isn’t obvious.

When the OED cannot find the fonts it prefers, it defaults to “related fonts”, often the Greek font; when it can’t find any related fonts, it goes haywire (black screens, etc). The solution is to reinstall the OED fonts, and to do it correctly this time. It involves a bit of manual work, but the effort is worthwhile.

First, launch the built-in Fonts facility (Control Panel → Fonts), which manages a subdirectory of the main Windows folder (\WINDOWS[ or \WINNT]\FONTS) on your BootDrive. Highlight each individual font listed above for v1.10 and v1.11* or for v1.14, then “Delete” (or “Remove”) them — there are either 18 or 20 of these fonts. Then drop to DOS, do a DIR of the \WINDOWS[ or \WINNT]\FONTS subdir, and make sure they’re really gone. Empty the Recycle Bin.

Second, reboot your machine, to reinitialize the Fonts folder (the Fonts folder is special: every font located in it is treated virtually like a System file, can’t normally be deleted, replaced, etc, and only gets truly initialized when Windows is first started).

Third, navigate in DOS to the OED’s FONTS directory (e.g. the \OED\FONTS subdirectory of your OED v1 installation for v1.10|v1.11*, or the \WINDOWS\SYSTEM subdir of the BootDrive for v1.14). Set the attribute bit for all the OED’s TTF fonts to Read-Only, so that they can’t be erased or overwritten (this really does prevent the future disappearance or alteration of fonts) — usually the OED fonts are the only ones in the subdirectory, so you can just command:

Otherwise set them to Read-Only individually:
… etc. etc.
Fourth, go to Control Panel → Fonts → File → “Add Font” or “Install New Font…” dialog → navigate to the OED’s FONTS directory (e.g. \OED\FONTS or \WINDOWS\SYSTEM). Make double SURE that you check the box “Copy fonts to Fonts folder”! Highlight all (“Select All”) the fonts listed above for v1.10 and v1.11* or for v1.14, then click “OK”, so that the OED fonts are not only registered with the Fonts facility, but also imported into the systemwide Fonts subdirectory on BootDrive. N.B.: On some computers, if you do not “Copy fonts to Fonts folder” and you subsequently run OEDXP’s “/F” check for Font and File integrity, the check may fail.

Very occasionally, Windows will report that each “font is already installed. To install a new version, first remove the old version” — even though the font patently isn’t installed, or isn’t displayed in System → Fonts, and the font file isn’t present in the FONTS directory. The solution is not obvious — and it is not FONTREG.EXE either (at least not in Windows 2000|XP). Launch RegEdit and navigate to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows[ NT]\CurrentVersion\Fonts. Look for keys that point at the OED fonts with the specific filenames that you tried to install. If you find any such keys, pointing at files in any d:\path (including outside the Fonts folder), Delete them. Close the Registry, and then try again to install the fonts. For more info, see this M$ Knowledge Base article.

Now relaunch the OED. The correct fonts will be restored, and you won’t see Greek again — ever.

Note: You cannot just manually COPY all of the OED’s *.TTF files to \WINDOWS[or \WINNT]\FONTS — it won’t work!

The fonts used in v1.10 versus v1.11* appear to be different, and this may cause problems (if you switch OED versions). There are eighteen (18) or twenty (20) dedicated OED fonts, depending upon whether you use OED.EXE v1.10 or v1.11*. It does no harm to install all 20 (get them here). v1.14 uses 18 fonts, and they are not interchangeable with the v1.10|v1.11* fonts!

Other possible font problems include conflicts with fonts installed by OUP’s Dictionary of National Biography. See OUP’s OED v1 support site for solutions.

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The “system file is not suitable for running MS-DOS applications” problem

This afflicts Windows XP in particular, although it may arise with other Windows operating systems also. You attempt to launch OED, and Windows returns this error message:

Close App Message

The cause is an AUTOEXEC.NT file that has gone astray. In most cases, upon bootup Windows has moved the file from its default location “C:\WINDOWS\system32” (or “C:\WINNT\system32” on NT4 and Win2K machines) to “C:\WINDOWS\REPAIR”. Why the OpSys has done that — who knows. An attempt to dissuade/discourage/frustrate DOS users, probably. In any case, the fix is simple:

Go to DOS and find out first where AUTOEXEC.NT has relocated:

Then issue two separate DOS commands. If you discover AUTOEXEC.NT in C:\WINDOWS\REPAIR, then the following commands would be appropriate (adjust the first command for the actual current location of AUTOEXEC.NT, which is the source file of the MOVE command [you can also use the COPY command if you prefer]):
The second of those commands is crucial. It sets AUTOEXEC to “Read-Only” status. If you omit that, then the next time you reboot your machine, Windows will move AUTOEXEC.NT right back to …\REPAIR, and you’ll return to square one. Read-Only prevents Windows from moving the file — and fortunately, Windows doesn’t complain.

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The “Win16 subsystem has insufficient resources to continue running. Please reboot” problem

This is a rare issue, confined to WinXP+. Typically — bizarrely — it arises without warning on computers that have successfully used, for a long time, the particular 16-bit programs that suddenly start to trigger the problem. Microsoft is mum about it.

The only real solution is to reboot. A tourniquet that circumvents a reboot is to close first all 16-bit Win3.x programs running under WOW (“Windows-On-Windows”, the Win16 subsystem), and then to use Task Manager or e.g. SysInternals’ fine Process Explorer or a command-line KILL utility, to stop the single instance of NTVDM.EXE which is running WOW32.DLL and which is, or was, running your culprit 16-bit Win3.x program(s). You can usually identify this particular NTVDM among, possibly, many NT Virtual DOS Machines that are concurrently running, because this NTVDM was not started by, and is not a dependency of, EXPLORER.EXE. After killing the WOW subsystem, you can usually resume work and you need not reboot. You can relaunch the OED; it may run for days before triggering the error message again — or it may only work for 20 minutes. Terminating the WOW subsystem may be effective only once or twice.

The underlying cause is that WinXP+ has assigned a “Graphics Device Interface” (GDI) object number higher than 16,384 to a 16-bit process (the quota of GDI objects per session was raised from 16,384 to 65,536 with WinXP). Quote a web page of Dan Fulger, who debugged it:

Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 have a limit of 16384 GDI objects per session… The only way to get around this is to log on in a different new session using Terminal Services/Remote Desktop. The console session (session 0) controls the actual physical display and input devices (keyboard mouse)… Please note that this has nothing to do with the per-process limit for GDI objects, which can be tuned from the registry…

In Windows XP and later versions (2003, etc.) the limit was extended to 65536 GDI objects per session. This poses a serious problem for the Win16 subsystem, because, for some reason, it always shifts the GDI handles to the right by two bits, when converting them from 32 to 16 bits. This means that the actual handle [number] cannot be larger than 14 bits. When the limit was updated for Windows XP, rather than eliminate this bizarre shift to the right, Microsoft programmers decided to simply crash the 16-bit application that happens to be served a handle larger than 16384 by the GDI system… Because GDI allocates handle numbers sequentially, and always prefers to reuse a freed handle rather than allocate a never-used higher handle, this can only happen if at some point during the current session the GDI handle count exceeded 16384. Please note that usually you are using session 0, the same that displays the logon screen when you start your computer, and so the only way to reset it is to reboot the computer (just like the second part of the error message says). The error message is wrong when it says you can solve the problem by closing applications. Though closing applications could theoretically reduce the probability of hitting this problem, in practice it doesn’t. The only thing that works is to reboot the computer…

An illegal, dangerous, patch that could solve the problem for you:
I made a version of wow32.dll that doesn’t shift the handles to the right. You can download it here.
Installing it is quite tricky, because wow32.dll is both a KnownDll and WFP protected. I believe the simplest idea is to use some sort of parallel installation of Windows [e.g. a BartPE CD], and using it to replace both copies of wow32.dll in your main installation (the first in windows\system32, the second in windows\system32\dllcache) with the one provided here, making sure you rename it to wow32.dll first…

For installation suggestions (not easy!), consult Dan Fulger’s page or a copy of it here. (Thanks to Shakib Otaqui for the initial proposal that the GDI was implicated in this problem.)

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SETUP.EXE won’t execute. Nothing happens when you launch it

Another rare problem, confined to WinNT+. Certain 16-bit programs simply will not execute. The underlying issue, and the solution, are presently unknown. So far, failure reports that I have received in connection with the OED have affected only SETUP.EXE. On one machine, SETUP works perfectly; on another, using the identical operating system, it won’t run. There is no error message. The program just doesn’t launch. Disabling the printer system doesn’t help. Nothing helps.

The only effective workaround is to transport SETUP.EXE, along with your Data CD, to another (e.g. Win9x) machine, and “install” the OED there, the narrow goal being to unpack the OED files contained in SETUP.EXE. Once decompressed, copy those files to a ZIPfile, floppy, or USB flash memory key, etc, or Email them to yourself, and finally erase them from the temporary host machine. SETUP may not launch on your machine, but OED.EXE will! (Don’t forget to fetch also the fonts — probably in C:\WINDOWS on the temporary host if you have “installed” v1.14.)

Simpler still, download v1.10 from an abandonware site — the ZIPfile is already unpacked. Version 1.10 is better than v1.14 anyway.

Please contact me if you have a solution for this problem. It occurs on some Win2K and WinXP machines with a variety of 16-bit programs (not just SETUP.EXE). Microsoft gives no guidance.

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Other Sites — Links

Peter Evans’ OED lite. The Oxford English Dictionary in one kilogram

Osamu Yamane’s v3.x OED on XYZZY, a provocative quasi-“open source” project that re-invents the OED user interface, marshalling an array of obscure Japanese-language programs and 240Kb (a lot!) of Lisp and Perl code, to display and manipulate the dictionary in almost any ordinary web browser. All supporting documentation, for every module, even the comments in the [otherwise English-language] code, is in Japanese. Nobody outside Japan has ever heard of this thing, but it works and is actually quite pretty. More important perhaps, it suggests ideas for other experiments, e.g. OED on smartphones, which latter was accomplished in Indonesia in 2012 by a programmer using Nokia’s (formerly Trolltech’s) Qt C++ framework together with Necessitas (Qt for Android) and SQLite (slow, but hey! it works, on your phone [screenshot]!)

Unix users might look (I haven’t) at Oed2/Ox2, “a package of utilities used to manage network access to the Oxford English Dictionary at the Waterloo Center for OED research for online lookup of words, definitions, examples, or other patterns. Oed2/Ox2 is a front-end to the Pat pattern searching applied to the Oxford English Dictionary Version 2.” See also Donna Lee Berg’s The Research Potential of the Electronic OED2 Database: a Guide for Scholars. Probably old code (early ’90s), and may not work(?) with the v1 data CD.

OUP-UK “out-of-print products” Technical Support websites:

Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition Version 4: OUP-UK Oxford English Dictionary CD-ROM Shop (v4) and OUP-US OED CD-ROM. Regular Retail Price: £162.50 + VAT or USD $295. On sale here for USD $200, upgrade from v2.0 or v3.x for USD $70 (regular retail price $79); buy/upgrade here for $212 and as little as $60
OUP Oxford English Dictionary OnLine website
Oxford English Dictionary On-Line Login
Oxford English Dictionary On-Line Subscription info (US$295/year or $29.95/month, for personal licence)

UK (and Elsewhere) Technical Support:
Oxford University Press
Electronic Publishing
Great Clarendon Street
Oxford OX2 6DP
United Kingdom
T. +44 (0) 1865 353979
USA Technical Support:
Oxford University Press Technical Support
c/o Hudson Software
200 Clearbrook Road
Elmsford, New York 10523
techsupport@oup-usa.org or oup-usa@hudsonsoft.com
T. +1 877-773-4325 or 914-773-4325
Japan Technical Support:
Oxford University Press, KK
4-1-40 Toranomon
Tokyo 105-8529
T: +81 3 3459 6489

Contact Me…

…if you have any comments, criticisms, suggestions, new links, dead links, new discoveries, etc. — please!

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R.J.Holmgren LastRev.21 December 2013