Sunday 12 November 2017

Anagram Solver Guide

This is a guide for the Anagram Solver iOS app - a powerful word search engine helping you to find anagrams, solve crosswords and much more.

The guide will explain how to use the app, make the best use of advanced features like filters and show you plenty of examples of how to use the app for many popular word puzzles / games, such as Scrabble, Crosswords, 4 Pics 1 Word, Word Cookie and Countdown.


Type in the letters you have, press Search to find all the possible words that can be made from those letters.
Enter the letters steam, to find: mates, meats, satem, tames, teams

For Countdown fans, guess these conundrums: ONEREDPIE, QUITESEXI and DOGGIRUNN
Try them in the app to see the answers.


Once all the anagrams have been found the app will then search for smaller words that use the same letters

Enter the word hearts to find: earth (s), share (t), rate (sh), she (art)
Note that the unused letters are shown after the word in brackets.

Anagrams and sub-anagrams are useful in many word games and are essential for apps like 4 Pics 1 Word and Word Cookie where you have many letters but need to make smaller words. See the Filters section below for filtering by word size.

Blank Letters

Games such as Scrabble or Words With Friends have blank tiles, you can use + to represent a blank tile.

Enter google++++ to find bootlegger, boondoggle, egyptology

In the screenshot above, the google letters are black and the 4 blank letters, ++++, are in red.

Two Word Anagrams

Enter Manchester United to find mechanised nutter, inducement haters, untested chairmen

The space indicates to the app to look for two words that use all the letters. In the example above the app will first search for words of length 10 and 6 letters, and then search for other combinations of words that total 16 letters.

For Pro users, three word anagrams searches are available, try cli ntea stwood to find old west action. The spaces in the query set the size of the 3 words to be searched, 3-4-6 in this example. In practice you will find that most 3 word searches will return 1000's of results and may take 10 seconds or more.

Crosswords / Missing Letters

Enter c..v.r to find clever, clover, carver

The . (period / full stop / dot) represents a missing letter. In this example the app will compare the pattern c..v.r to all the 6 letter words in its list of 130,000 (280,000 if Pro) words.

This type of search is also useful for bad handwriting! Not sure what letters have been scrawled, use a . and see what matches you get.

Tip!  If an unknown letter must be a vowel, use ! instead of .


The app has over 100,000 built in phrases - common sayings, hyphenated words, names etc. Use a hyphen to separate words, eg enter a....n. ..a.. to find amazing grace

Tip!  You only need one or two letters for the app to find only a few possible answers, a great way to start your crossword off.


If you have many missing letters, you can use numbers to represent a group of missing letters.
Enter m4 3 6 to find miles per gallon, milky way galaxy and motte and bailey

m4 3 6 is equivalent to entering m.... ... ......


  1. For known letters try the missing letters search, eg ??e?t
  2. Use the excludes letters filter for letters you know are not in the word
  3. Use the includes letters filter for letters that are in the word

NYT Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee puzzles are where you only use the letters provided, but as many times as you like. The middle letter of the puzzle must be included in every word found. Words must be 4 or more letters.

Try $qntuaei to find quinquina, aquanaut and queenie

In this example the middle letter is q and is the first letter after $


If you have many missing letters, you can use numbers to represent a group of missing letters. 

Enter m4 3 6 to find miles per gallon, milky way galaxy and motte and bailey

m4 3 6 is equivalent to entering m.... ... ......

Suffix @ Prefix

Whereas a . represents a single letter, @ represents 1 or more letters

Enter @ace to find face, hyperspace, peace

You can also mix . and @ in your search,
Enter sup@x. to find supergalaxy
Here @ represents ergala and the . y


Find larger words that contain your anagram letters, use * to represent 1 or more extra letters (blank tiles)

Enter microsoft* to find discomforting, nonconformists, oversimplification

So here, all the letters in microsoft appear in these words and are shown in black in the screenshot above, the red letters are the extra letters represented by *


Codeword crosswords substitute numbers for each letter of the alphabet. You are shown a completed grid of numbers, given 3 letters and you then have to deduce what the numbers are for each letter.

The first step is to fill out the grid with the letters you are given. You then have to try work out words that will fit the grid, this can be tricky but words that use the same letter more than once will be easier to guess.

Lets say you have a word that is made up of the following numbers:

14 12 8 8 23 17 17 23

The 3rd/4th letters are the same,so are the  5th/8th and 6th/7th. In the app enter this query, ..112332

The app finds 11 matches, including barrette, cassette and pallette.

Breaking down the query, ..112332, the full-stop / period represents an unknown letter that is only used once and the numbers represent letters that are the same, here I specified 3 letters than must be the same 1,2 and 3. So for cassette, 1 is S, 2 is E and 3 is T. Mapping this back to the clue, 14 12 8 8 23 17 17 23, 1 is 8, 2 is 23 and 3 is 17, so S is 8, E is 23 and T is 17.

Lets say we already had E, you would then enter the query as ..11E22E
Notice that I use 2 for the T now.

The Excluding Letters filter is really handy for Codewords, lets say we already have letters LMFR, so we can exclude any words that contain these letters:

Enter the letters you already know that aren't in the clue, press search.

The app now only matches cassette.


You can press the information icon on the right of a word to look up its definition on Google.  You can change from Google to Merriam-Webster, MW Thesaurus, Collins, Oxford Dictionaries, Word Game Dictionary or Wikipedia via the settings menu. For Scrabble fans I recommend the Word Game Dictionary lookup which checks if the word is allowed and shows its score and definition.

Instead of using the settings menu to change the default dictionary provider, you can long press a word to bring up a dialog of options:

Pressing copy will copy the word to the system clip board which you can paste back into the query field on the main screen. Copy All will paste all the words to the clip board so you can paste them into some other app.


Most searches will return hundreds of results, too many to easily wade through. You can press the filter button (it's on the top right) and get to the filter screen as shown above. You can set up 1 or several filters, press search and the app will perform the search again but this time with the filters applied.

As an example lets say you are playing Scrabble with the letters zsltera in your tray and you want to attach them to a tile on the board, say m. So enter zslteram as your query:

Press the filter button, top right, I would like to use my z tile and the word must start with m

 Press search to run the search with the filters you have set

Note that the Starting With and Ending With filters can be changed to Not Starting With / Not Ending With by checking the Not buttons:

Word Filters 
Only include a result if it contains a word or excludes a word, handy for cryptic crosswords.

Size Filters
Filter by word size (equal/less than / greater than) and are great for word games such as 4 Pics 1 Word and Word Cookie.

Distinct Filter
Useful for codewords, eg set to All letters are different for words where letters are only used once in the word, so ambidextrous is allowed but egg is not.

Advanced Filters

Word Pattern is very handy for Scrabble games as you can specify the pattern of existing letters on the board.
Use . to indicate any letter and @ to indicate 1 or more letters.

So lets say on the board there is,a letter m, an unused square and z. Enter all of your tray letters (stlerai) and the letters on the board you would like to use (mz) in the main query, slteraimz

If you have unoccupied squares either side of the m and z letters, enter this for the word pattern .m.z. to get smaze. If you have plenty of space after the z, enter m.z@ to get maziest.

If that makes sense, you maybe brave enough to try the regular expression filter (RegEx). RegEx is a very powerful matching tool used in computer string processing, don't panic I will give you a quick guide.

In the word pattern filter above, your pattern is converted into RegEx. So a . is converted in [a-z] meaning any letter a to z, @ is converted to [a-z]+ meaning 1 or more letters. Here are some more examples:

  • [aeiou] letter must be a vowel
  • [a-z]* any letter none or more times
  • [a-z]+ any letter one or more times
  • [a-z] any letter just once

For a simple crib sheet, please take a look at

I will also mention this example that a user sent in, he wanted to use the letters thidgof to find all words made by any combination of those letters and each letter could be used multiple times, so for example foodfoot.

  1. Enter * for the main query, this will match all words
  2. Enter [thidgof]+ in the Regular Expression filter

Tip! Remember to lookup the word on the Word Game Dictionary to verify that it is allowed in Scrabble


You can get to the settings screen by pressing the cog icon, top left  on the main screen.

Search Settings
  • Word List - Select the word list that the app uses. For Words With Friends, chose one of the Scrabble word lists, these lists do not contain disallowed words. If you are overwhelmed with too many matches, try the smaller Essential words list.
  • Dictionary Definition - choose which dictionary website to use when you press the information icon next to a word
  • Results Limit - You can set the maximum number of results returned to 100, 500, 1000 or 5000.
  • Show Sub-anagrams -  If you only want to see pure anagrams and no sub-anagrams you can deselect this option.

Appearance Settings
  • Letter Highlighting - Chose the colour of the letters in Blank and Supergram searches
  • Dark Mode - The app now supports a dark mode theme: System - uses your iOS setting for dark mode, Dark - dark theme, Light - light theme.
  • Show tips as cards - Show the help tips as a compact list.
  • Lowercase letters - Changes the case of the query text field and the results.
  • Use monospaced font - Use a larger monospaced font for the query text field and results.

Keyboard Settings
  • Automatically show keyboard - Automatically opens up the keyboard when you go to the main screen.
  • Allow dictation - Show the microphone button on the keyboard
  • Convert space to ? - Select this option to convert spaces to ? which are used for unknown letters
  • Convert . to ? - Select this option to converts dots (.) to ? which are used for unknown letters.

Tip! You can reset the settings back to their default values by pressing the Reset button (top right)


The app only shows a banner ad along the bottom of the results screen. The ads are provided by Google Admob. You can remove ads by making an in app purchase:

From the menu, press About & Privacy, scroll to the advertisements section, press the BUY button and then follow the standard Apple in app purchase menus to complete the sale. Once purchased ads will no longer be shown within the app.

If you buy a new phone or have re-installed the app, press Restore Purchases and the app will check if you have already made a purchase and enable Pro if you have.

From the About & Privacy screen you can also select to show more or less relevant ads. Google Admob uses tracking data to tailor ads to you, you can stop Admob from tracking you (and using any data it may have collected about you) by electing to show less relevant ads.

Help Out

Thanks for using the app!

If you can think of any other uses for the app, please enter them in the comments below. Reading comments in the app store and feedback from emails, users have found all sorts of uses for the app such as deciphering handwriting, learning English, writing poetry,  writing quizzes, creating puzzles and even helping with a hearing disability ( I think they enter part of the word they heard)

Tell your friends about the app, scroll down the list of tips on the main screen to the Help Out tip, here you can send a link of the app on the App Store to your friends. You can also email me feedback from the help out tip and rate the app on the App Store.

I hope you will enjoy using the app for years to come, remember it's not cheating - just saving you a little time ;)

App Developer

Updated 12th Oct 2023 for v1.17

Friday 6 October 2017

Food Hygiene Ratings iOS Guide

This is a guide to using the Food Hygiene Ratings UK iOS app. The app looks up food hygiene ratings from Food Standards Agency, If you do not have the app, click the link below from your iPhone/iPad:

 Food Hygiene Ratings UK

If you have an Android device, please visit the Android guide


Please update to the latest version of the app, version 1.03.00 available from the 1st October 2018.
There is a bug in earlier versions of the app to do with the component scores for hygiene, structural and management. Some establishments have no published component score data however the app will show default scores of 0 for these establishments.  To verify an establishment's component score, open the link from within the app to view the establishment's details on the FSA website.

Quick Search

Open the app and enter Cottage Loaf in the name field and Llandudno in the place, press search on the keyboard or press the search icon in the top right.

We ended up going 'Spoons instead

The app will send a query off to the FSA website and then display the results returned from the FSA database. All data is live and up to date, no information is stored in the app. As you can see the Cottage Loaf scores a 5 (Very Good) and you can see a bit of the address, press the result to get more details.

An interactive mini map is displayed, you can move and zoom this map. The FSA data for the geographical co-ordinates can be inaccurate, here though the app will use the business address to look up precise co-ordinates to place the pin accurately.

You can scroll through the data to see a breakdown of the scores for 3 categories: hygiene, structural and management, you can click on the info icon for information about the category. These scores are like hazard points, so lower the score the better. The range of possible scores is 0-30 in steps of 5, with 0 the best and 30 the worst. You can find a more detailed explanation of the scores on page 35 of the FHRS guidance notes.

As you can see this business was rated on June 27th 2017 and has been awarded a 5 (Very Good). 
If for any reason a business is displaying an incorrect score on its doors, you can use the app to send an email to local authority from this screen,  the app will even fill in the business details to save you typing.

You can also view the establishment details directly on the FSA website 

It's official, nuff said

Near Me

The app can use the devices location to find establishments near to you. You will be asked to give the app permission to use location services, press Near Me from the main screen:

Pig Dog's Fodder

The app uses different colours to represent the scores 0-5. On a Near Me search the app will also show the distance of the establishment from your location.

When you have many results the app will sort the results by distance and group them by business category. You can press the index on the right hand side to jump to the different categories.

Map Searches

From a list of results, press the map button on the top right to view the results on a map.

Football rating: Improvement Required

The pins are coloured similarly as the list to represent the various scores 0-5, blue pins indicate pending ratings. Press a pin to view the business name, on the pop up, you can press the info icon to view all the details of the establishment.

Please note that the app uses the data from the FSA to place the pins, this data can be quite inaccurate and you will typically find that a lot of pins are stacked on top of each other. 

The map is interactive, you can move and zoom and also perform a map search. Move the map to the area you wish to search, press the search icon in the top right and the app will search for establishments in a 1 mile radius from the centre point of the map. If you press back, the app will go back to the list which will be updated with the new map search results showing the distance of the business from the centre of the map.

Filter Results

Here I've entered Llanberis in the place field on the main screen and pressed search

Yay Dinorwig Power Station

In the search filter above start typing the name of the business you are looking for

Good hiking nosh

In this example, I've entered McDonalds in the Name field to find all the McDonalds in the UK

4 more and they will be Elite

I then press 2 in the search filter, which filters by rating

To be fair, McD's are nearly all 4/5's

Advanced Searches

Let's say you are looking for a decent pub on Anglesey

Scottish ratings also supported

Enter the business type, Pub/bar/nightclub. Area Anglesey and specify the hygiene rating should be 4 or 5.

Plenty to go at

Now that's a pub crawl

Trouble Shooting

Different Score?

I often see comments saying the app is out of date, the score on the door doesn't match. The app itself does not store any data, it fetches all data from the FSA. So if you see a business is displaying a different rating to the app, it's possible that the FSA database has not been updated or the business has not removed the old sign and put up the new. 

The app allows you to send an email to the Local Authority where you can request clarification.

Establishment Not Listed

You type in the name and place and your favourite take-away is not found, one problem maybe the place you have specified is not in the business address, so the app will not find the business. So try widening the address, eg change Westminster to London.

Ok you do a map search and its still not showing up. The most likely explanation in this case, is that the business has not yet been rated, the FSA has quite a backlog of work. It's also possible that the business has recently changed name. 

Try finding the establishment on the FSA website,
If the establishment is found on the website, but not the app, please send me the name/address of the establishment so I can take a look.

Spurious Search Results

Search for Nando's and you will find also Lando's. The FSA database search algorithm is not so strict which is handy if you make spelling mistakes but can be frustrating if you are getting too many irrelevant matches. Fortunately the app is easy and quick to use, so browsing a huge list of results in combination with the filter make it easier for you to find the establishment you are looking for.

Try the advanced search features to specify your search further, eg for The Swan at Stone, also specify the local authority area, eg Stafford, as there are lots of places called Stone.

No Results

For some users the app does not find any results at all. I've still yet to find the cause, to help me I've included some logging in the app. To enable logging, exit the app, open the settings app, open the settings for the Food Hygiene Ratings UK app and enable logging:

When the app tells you that it has found no results, instead it should now give you the option of emailing me the log file.

Scottish Rating System

The app is UK wide and supports establishments that have been rated with the Scottish Ratings System, eg Pass/Pass Plus/Improvement Required.

Red Triangle - Improvement Required


All ratings information is provided by the Food Standards Agency,
The app and this blog post are not affiliated and have not been endorsed by the FSA.

Images from the FSA, icons provided by

The app is free of charge and is ad funded. Ads are provided by Google Admob, the app will only display a banner along the bottom of the screen. 


For any other problems please send me an email via the feedback button on the main screen. 

To help keep updates coming, I'd be grateful if you could take the time to rate the app on the App Store. Also spread the word, tell your friends about the app, you can do this easily by pressing the 'Tell Your Friends' button which will share a link to the app via Facebook / Twitter (if you have the apps installed) or email.