We’ve posted answers to a few common support questions below; for less common issues, you can also visit our discussion forums – do a search there and you should find an answer to almost any question you might have.
Our very detailed online instruction manuals (iOS and Android) can also help – they include detailed tutorial walkthroughs of all of Pleco’s major features. We’re also happy to answer your questions ourselves, of course – you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through this page.
Retrieving Past Purchases
To retrieve your past order information from a Palm or Windows Mobile copy of Pleco, or an Android copy purchased through our website, visit the My Orders page. For copies originally purchased in-app on iOS or Android, you can generally recover your purchases by going into the “Add-ons” screen and tapping “Restore iTunes Purchases” or “Restore In-App Purchases.”
Frequently Asked Questions
I just downloaded your free app on an iPhone; how can I access handwriting recognition?
On iOS that’s provided by the built-in system Chinese handwriting keyboard; see this page for instructions on how to enable that. (make sure to turn off ‘auto-commit candidates’ after you do; see below)
I just updated to iOS 13 and now when I try to enter characters on the handwriting keyboard they vanish before I can finish writing
Go into the system Settings app, General, Keyboard, scroll down to the bottom and turn off ‘auto-commit candidates’; that should restore the old behavior.
Screen Reader / Screen OCR / Clipboard Monitor keeps getting terminated in the background on my Android phone
This is due to your phone having a poorly-implemented background app power saving feature that does not make provision for apps that actually do something useful in the background; see the excellent website dontkillmyapp.com for instructions on how to disable that feature so that this will stop happening.
I just updated to Android 10 and now the Clipboard Monitor function has vanished
Unfortunately, in Android 10, Google has blocked apps from being able to access the clipboard in the background, so there’s no way for us to continue offering this function. (we would encourage you to write Google or your phone manufacturer to complain about this; they could easily add an opt-in “access clipboard in the background” app permission in a future Android release if they chose to)
I’m trying to buy / download Pleco add-ons from my iPhone in China and I keep getting a message about not being able to connect to the internet even though the internet is working fine on my phone
Check the system Settings app (gray gear icon) and make sure that Pleco has permission to use cellular data; in China, this permission is set off by default for third-party apps.
I’m trying to reactivate my purchases on iOS and I keep getting a “regrant failed” error
I’m trying to buy / restore your iOS software and I get a “please purchase this application first” error
This usually means that your copy of Pleco has gotten detached from your iTunes account – a particularly common issue for customers in China. To fix this:
- Back up your flashcard database, if you have one – see the instruction manual for help with this.
- Delete Pleco from your device. (tap-hold on its icon and tap on the (X) button)
- Go into the system “Settings” app, tap “Store,” tap on your email address, and tap “Sign Out.”
- Reboot your device, by holding down the power button and sliding to power off (and then powering back on again).
- Go back into Settings / Store and sign back in to your iTunes account.
- Go into App Store and re-download Pleco.
- Go back into the Pleco “Add-ons” screen and try restoring purchases again.
- If you backed up your flashcard database, see the manual for instructions on how to restore it from that backup.
I moved to China and now I can’t make / can’t restore purchases in your Android software
To buy our Android software in China, visit the Pleco Store. To restore an in-app purchase that you made outside of China while you’re in China, contact email@example.com – unfortunately, there’s no good way for us to support doing that automatically, but if you contact us we can easily look up your order and provide you with an alternate activation code.
My paid add-ons have stopped working
On iOS, you can usually restore purchases by going into the “Add-ons” screen and tapping “Restore iTunes Purchases.” If you originally bought our software on Palm or Windows Mobile and transferred your license over from that, visit the My Orders page on our website and you can recover your activation info from there.
On Android, if you bought Pleco originally as an in-app purchase you can restore your purchase by tapping “Restore Purchases” in the “Add-ons” screen. If you bought originally from our online store, simply re-enter your Registration ID in the “Registration” screen – visit the My Orders page if you need help recovering it.
Should I choose iOS or Android?
The depth of feeling on both sides of this debate is such that we don’t want to even hint that we might think one platform is superior in general to the other one. However, for what it’s worth we can state objectively that our iOS sales are roughly 3x our Android sales, and that those numbers appear to be fairly typical among other mobile app developers – we have lots of users on Android, but the bulk of our revenue comes from iOS.
Feature-wise, there are a few Pleco features exclusive to each platform. Our iOS app has a much more robust document reader than our Android app, with support for tap-lookups in web pages and EPUB/Word/PDF/TXT/Pages/RTF/HTML files – on Android we only support PDF and TXT and EPUB. However, we make up for that on Android with our “Screen Reader” feature, which allows you to tap-lookup words in any app on your Android phone via a floating button (particularly useful for chat apps like WeChat). Also, on account of its closed filesystem we include a few features on iOS that we don’t bother with on Android – our iOS app has a built-in file manager and built-in text editor because there isn’t a convenient way to do those things in a third-party app on iOS.
On that note, in terms of the logistics of using a mobile device purchased abroad in China, you’re probably a lot better off with an iPhone simply because Google’s services are currently blocked in China and Apple’s are not; a foreign iPhone is generally a lot more functional behind the Great Firewall than a foreign Android phone because it can still reach Apple’s servers to download apps / install system updates / perform searches / etc.
One last point: if you care about Cantonese audio support in our free app, you should definitely pick iOS over Android, because many Android phones ship with spotty (or nonexistent) built-in text-to-speech support for Cantonese. On both iOS and Android we offer excellent Cantonese text-to-speech engines as paid add-ons, so as long as you’re willing to pay for that you can get wonderful Cantonese audio support on either platform, but if you aren’t willing to pay for an add-on and nevertheless want Cantonese audio in our app, you should choose iOS over Android to ensure that that works reliably.
Which device should I buy?
iOS: You can’t really go wrong with any of the current iPhone models Pleco-wise – even the humble iPhone 8 and SE have blazing fast processors. Likewise with iPads; all of the current models (even the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad) should run Pleco beautifully. Our app takes full advantage of the larger screen on the iPhone X/11/12 and the split-screen mode on the latest iPads (including the iPad Pro). The latest iPod Touch also has an extremely fast processor and should run Pleco fine.
Among used iOS devices, we’re about to start requiring iOS version 14 as a minimum, so we would not recommend getting anything older than an iPhone 6s, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, or the latest iPod Touch (or any iPad Pro).
Android: for Android, since many Pleco users either live in / regularly visit China or at least are entertaining the possibility of going there in the future, we recommend getting a device which relies on Google services as little as possible, as most Google services are blocked in China. This means that you should probably avoid devices made by Google itself and instead purchase a device from another large Android manufacturer like Samsung, as that will generally include its own built-in alternatives to most Google services which work more reliably in China than Google’s do.
Beyond that, the main thing to look for when buying an Android phone for Pleco is that it has an up-to-date version of Android; as of 2020 that means it should be running Android 9 or 10, preferably 10. Any Android device you can buy should have more than enough processor power / storage capacity for Pleco, but some still ship with very old software and you’ll have a better experience with a more up-to-date phone.
As far as used devices, about the only situation we would recommend getting a used Android phone is if it’s still new enough (e.g. released within the last year or so) that it’s still getting system updates, and if it’s a considerably nicer / higher-end model than you would be able to afford otherwise; new low-end Android phones are priced really well – a lot of phone for very little money – and used phones rarely offer enough savings to justify putting up with older / worn-out hardware.
How do I get started?
Our software can be kind of intimidating, but the tutorials in the instruction manual (iOS / Android) should walk you through most of the basics. The most important thing to remember is that most of the options have been pre-configured to work well for most people; if you leave everything that you don’t understand on whatever its default setting is, you should be OK.
How do I back up my flashcards?
On iOS, tap on the “Import/Export” item in the sidebar, tap “Backup Database,” save the file, then go into “File Manager,” “Edit,” tap on the backed-up flashcard file, “Zip”, tap “Edit” again, tap on the (now .zip-archived) flashcard file, tap “Email,” and email the file to yourself as an attachment.
On Android, tap on the “Import/Export” item in the sidebar, tap “Backup Database,” save the file to a convenient location on your device’s SD card, then copy it from there to your computer by USB (or whatever other method you like).
How do I synchronize flashcards between devices?
On both iOS and Android, you can move flashcards between devices by backing up flashcard database on one device and restoring it on the other. To do this, run the “Backup Database” command – under Import/Export in the sidebar – and then send that backup file to your other device; on iOS you can do that through File Manager / Share Files, on Android it’s usually best to use a file sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive. (if you’re running Android 4.4 or later, you can actually save / open files directly on Google Drive without having to copy them manually) After you’ve transferred the database, use the counterpart “Restore Database” command on the other device to activate your backed-up flashcards on it.
Can I move my purchase between iOS and Android?
Yes; just copy down the Registration ID from the Pleco “Registration” screen on one device and enter it in the other one.
Does your software work without an internet connection?
Yes – it requires one for the initial download / activation, but once it’s set up and activated all of its features should work quite well without an internet connection.
Does your software support traditional and simplified characters?
Yes, it fully supports both, though OCR supports a slightly smaller number of traditional characters (about 5000, versus 6500 or so simplified) and we have a couple of dictionaries that are traditional- or simplified-only (they’ll all be prominently marked as such in “Add-ons”).
Does your software work on a non-Chinese phone?
Yes; both our iOS and Android apps ship with built-in Chinese fonts so they should work well regardless of the manufacturer’s support for Chinese.
Does your software work on Amazon Kindle Fire tablets?
Yes; our app is not currently available in the Amazon AppStore but you can type pleco.com/getandroid in your tablet’s web browser to download it directly from us.
Do you support other languages like Japanese?
No, but our long-awaited “Pleco 4.0” update will make a lot of moves towards being language-neutral, so while we may not offer any Pleco-developed Japanese dictionary add-ons, it should be easy to produce a Japanese user dictionary that performs well and juggles native Japanese features correctly. (we’re even supporting custom collators, so if you want search results in that new Hungarian dictionary add-on you’re developing to group O/Ó together but sort Ö after all other O’s, we’ve got you covered)
Does your software work on desktop computers or laptops?
Our Android app works on Chromebooks, though the gap between those and keyboard-equipped iOS/Android tablets is pretty small. We are also considering a macOS release thanks to Apple’s “Project Catalyst” technology for rebuilding iOS apps to work on Mac, but the first release of that is buggy / awkward enough that we’re holding off to wait for it to evolve a bit before we jump in.