Blindfold Cryptogram

User Guide


Blindfold Cryptogram is a fully accessible Cryptogram game for both sighted and visually impaired people, designed for rapid audio play.

A cryptogram is a phrase or quote that has been encrypted by simple letter substitution.
In this game, you will decode a cryptogram of a quote by a famous person.
The screen does not show the quote; you must solve the puzzle by listening and imagining each letter of each word of the quote in your mind.

You control this game using iPhone gestures.
First, pick the STARTER PACK and then select the first quote – the one by Mark Twain.

You are starting at the first letter of the first word of the quote.
Flick right to move right one letter or flick left to move left one letter.
Swipe right with two fingers to move one word forward, swipe left with two fingers to move one word back.
To find out where you are, shake the iPhone.
You can also slide your finger across the puzzle to hear the puzzle letters.

The puzzle letter is always spoken in a man’s voice; your solution – the decrypted letter that you figured out – is always spoken in a woman’s voice.
If a spot is empty, you will hear a beep.

To hear the entire word where your cursor is, swipe down with 2 fingers.
If you’ve only decrypted a few letters of the word, you will hear each letter of the word, and a beep for the letters that you have not yet decrypted.

To hear the entire sentence, swipe up with 2 fingers.
For each word in the sentence, if you have fully decrypted the word, you will hear the word.
Otherwise, you will hear each letter of the word, and a beep for the letters that you have not yet decrypted.
At the end of each word, you will hear a double beep.
At the end of the final sentence, you will hear a triple beep.

There are three ways to enter your solution: using the alphabet at the bottom of the screen, using the pop-up keypad, or using your bluetooth keyboard.

To use the alphabet at the bottom of the screen, move left and right to find the letter you want to decrypt in the puzzle.
Flick down, and you will hear the word “letters”.
Flick back and forth to find the letter you want to use, and then tap the screen with two fingers.
The letter you picked is now in your solution everywhere the puzzle letter was used, and then you will hear the word “puzzle”.
If you flicked down to get to the letters, and then decide you want to go back to the puzzle without selecting an solution, flick up, and you will hear the word “puzzle”.
If you flick up when you are already in the puzzle, you will hear the puzzle letter in a man’s voice and your solution, if any, in a woman’s voice.
To clear a letter that you got wrong, use the CLEAR button. It’s in the alphabet at the bottom of the screen, left of the letter “A”.”

To use the pop-up keypad to enter your decrypted answer for that letter, tap the screen with 3 fingers.
A voice-over compatible keypad pops-up.
The keypad has the alphabet at the bottom of the screen, the letters you’ve already used at the top of the screen, and several buttons.
To pick a letter for an empty spot, or to change the letter in a spot, tap that letter from the bottom alphabet.
All instances of that letter will be updated in the puzzle, and you’ll be back at the puzzle, and you will hear the word “puzzle”.

To use your bluetooth keypad, tap in the upper right corner.
Voiceover will announce “TAP A LETTER”, and then you should pick a letter from your bluetooth keypad.
If that letter was already used in the puzzle, it is cleared out of the puzzle.
Then all instances of that letter will be updated in the puzzle, and after you hear the word “puzzle”, you’ll be back at the puzzle.

To remove a letter that you’ve already used, tap that letter from the used letter list.
All instances of that letter will return back to an empty spot.

All the letters in the puzzle, and their frequencies, are on the right side of the keypad screen.
You can scroll that list up and down.
One of the tricks to solving a cryptogram is to solve the most frequently used letters first – those are usually E, T, A, O, I, and N.
If you get stuck, you can get hints.
To get a little hint, tap the LITTLE HINT button.
To get a big hint, tap the BIG HINT button.
To go back to the puzzle screen, tap the DONE button.

In the puzzle screen, to go back to the Cryptogram Quote selection screen, swipe up with three fingers.

If you start a new game, your current game will not be saved.

Rules and Hints

To exit from this screen, tap in the upper right corner.


If you’re new to cryptograms, this brief solving tutorial will show you some of the basic methods seasoned solvers use to crack their codes. This is by no means an exhaustive list, however! Every solver is different, and each has their own favorite ways to attack a puzzle.

Start with one-letter words

Many, if not most puzzles, will have one or more words which are composed of only a single letter. In the english language, the only two commonly used one-letter words are I and A, so it’s usually a safe bet that any single-letter word in your puzzle can be decoded to one of those two. In very rare cases, a puzzle may use the word O in a poetic or archaic sense, so this rule won’t always pan out, but 99% of the time this is an easy and convenient way to get a foothold into the puzzle.

Frequency analysis and the importance of “E T A O I N”

Frequency analysis is a fancy term for a simple idea – certain letters appear far more often in the english language than others. That’s where “E T A O I N” comes in handy. No, that’s not the name of an exotic tribe or an extinct tongue. “E T A O I N” is simply a mnemonic device combining the six letters which appear most frequently in the english language. The letter ‘E’ appears much more frequently than any other letter in the alphabet, with ‘T’ the most common after that, ‘A’ the third most common, and so on.

How does this help? Well, you’ll notice in our cryptograms, we provide a frequency table in the keypad. That number tells you how often that particular letter appears in the puzzle (i.e. that letter’s “frequency analysis”). If, for example, a letter appears twelve times in a puzzle, much more often than any other letter, then it is a very good bet (though by no means certain) that that letter can be decoded to one of the “E T A O I N” group. More often than not, it will decode to ‘E’ or ‘T’.

Contractions and possessives are your friend

You may have hated learning about contractions in grade-school, but here in crypto-land, contractions are extremely useful! Contractions are simply words that combine two words into a shorter, single word by replacing certain internal letters with an apostrophe. Some examples are: don’t, they’ve, he’ll, he’s, I’m, she’d, etc. Possessives also use apostrophes in a similar way, to show ownership, for example: woman’s, child’s, dog’s, etc.

The reason contractions and possessives are so useful in decoding cryptograms is that only a small number of letters can be used in them immediately after the apostrophe. Possessives will only ever use ‘S’ – contractions have more options, however:

Common Endings for Contractions (With Examples)

apostrophe T: won’t (would not), don’t (do not), isn’t (is not), aren’t (are not), weren’t (were not), shouldn’t (should not), didn’t (did not), can’t (can not)
apostrophe S: he’s (he is) , she’s (she is), it’s (it is)
apostrophe D: i’d (i had or i would) , he’d (he had or he would), she’d (she had or she would), they’d (they had or they would)
apostrophe M: i’m (i am)
apostrophe R E: they’re (they are), you’re (you are)
apostrophe V E: they’ve (they have), you’ve (you have)
apostrophe L L: i’ll (i will) , he’ll (he will) , she’ll (she will) ,they’ll (they will), it’ll (it will)

So be on the lookout for possessives and contractions. They won’t appear in every puzzle, but they are fairly common and can often be an easy way to break into an otherwise frustrating puzzle. (Also remember that if you decode the post-apostrophe letter of a contraction to a ‘T’, then the letter immediately before the apostrophe is almost certainly an ‘N’!)

Move on to the two and three letter words

By now you maybe have placed an ‘A’ or an ‘I’ on the board, if there were any one-letter words available, and maybe you’ve even placed an ‘E’ or a ‘T’ via frequency analysis. At this point you may start to see some two- and three-letter words which now have a single letter decoded in them. There are only a handful of common two-letter words, and not very many more three-letter words, so you can start analyzing each to see where they may and may not fit.

Most Common Two- and Three-Letter Words

Two Letters: is (I S), be (B E), as (A S), at (A T), so (S O), we (W E), he ( HE ), by (B Y), or ( OR ), on (O N), do (D O),
if (I F), me (M E), it (I T), my (M Y), up (U P), an (A N), go (G O ), no (N O), us (U S), am (A M), of (O F), to (T O), in (I N),
Three Letters: the (T H E), and (A N D ), for (F O R), are (A R E), but (B U T), not (N O T), you (Y O U), all (A L L), any (A N Y),
can (C A N), had (H A D), her (H E R), was (W A S), one (O N E), our (O U R), out (O U T), day (D A Y), get ( G E T), has (H A S), him (H I M),
his (H I S), how (H O W), man (M A N)

Be especially sure to search for appearances of the word “the” (spelled T H E) and the word “and” (spelled A N D) – two of the most commonly used words in the english language. Even if no letters have yet been decoded you can often use frequency analysis (remember “E T A O I N”?) to find one or both of these words. Look for three letter words with a frequency analysis pattern of HIGH-MEDIUM-HIGH (for the word ‘the’) and HIGH-HIGH-MEDIUM (for the word ‘and’). This will generally work better for longer puzzles – the more letters that appear in total in a puzzle, the more likely the statistical distribution of letters in that puzzle will approach the language-wide averages represented by “E T A O I N”.

Look for digraph patterns

Certain less-common letters in the english language tend to “pair up” with other letters in two-letter sequences commonly referred to as “digraphs.” ‘H’ is one example – particularly when it is the last letter of a word. A partially-decoded word like dash dash dash H, for example, will probably end in “C H”, “P H”, “S H” or “T H”, just because there are very few other letters that can pair up with H near the end of a word.

Useful Letters with Commonly Appearing Digraphs

H: C H, S H, T H, P H, W H
K: C K, S K, L K, K E,
Q: Q U
X: E X

It is also extremely useful to look for double-letter digraphs, i.e. letters which appear in duplicate (one directly after the other) in the same word. These can often be a dead giveaway, and especially so in 3- and 4-letter words. Only two vowels, ‘E’ and ‘O’, are commonly used as double-letter vowel digraphs, though there are rare exceptions: ‘A A’ in words like AARDVARK or BAZAAR, ‘I I’ in words like RADII or SKIING, ‘U U’ in words like VACUUM and CONTINUUM.

Common Words with Double-Letter Digraphs

3 Letters: all (A L L), add ( A D D), bee (B E E), boo (B O O), ell (E L L), ebb (E B B), egg (E G G), fee (F E E),
goo (G O O), too (T O O), tee (T E E), see ( S E E)
4 Letters: ball (B A L L), been (B E E N), beer (B E E R), beet ( B E E T), beep (B E E P),
bell (B E L L), boom (B O O M), boot (B O O T), book (B O O K), bull (B U L L), butt (B U T T), call (C A L L),
cell (C E L L), coon (C O O N), dell ( D E L L ), doll (D O L L ), door (D O O R), doom (D O O M),
fall ( F A L L ), fell (F E L L ), feel ( F E E L), feet (F E E T), foot (F O O T), food (F O O D),
fool (F O O L), fuss (F U S S ),
full (F U L L), gull (G U L L), gall (G A L L), hall (H A L L), hell (H E L L),
heed ( H E E D), heel ( H E E L), hill ( H I L L ), hull (H U L L), hoop (H O O P), hood (H O O D),
hoof ( H O O F), hoot (H O O T), jeep (J E E P),
keen (K E E N), keel (K E E L), keep (K E E P), less (L E S S), lees (L E E S),
mall (M A L L), need (N E E D), peel (P E E L), pall (P A L L), pool (P O O L), poof (P O O F),
poll (P O L L), poor (P O O R), peek (P E E K),
pass ( P A S S) , root (R O O T), reel (R E E L),
reef ( R E E F), reed (R E E D), roll (R O L L), room (R O O M), rood (R O O D), sass ( S A S S),
sell ( S E L L), seen ( S E E N), seem (S E E M), seed (S E E D),
seek ( S E E K), seer (S E E R), seep (S E E P), soon (S O O N), soot ( S O O T),
sill (S I L L), tall ( T A L L), tell (T E L L),
teen ( T E E N), teem ( T E E M), teed ( T E E D), tool (T O O L),
wall (W A L L), well ( W E L L), watt (W A T T ), weed (W E E D), week (W E E K), weep (W E E P)

Consider common prefixes and suffixes

Longer words with more than 5 or 6 letters will often contain prefixes and/or suffixes, both of which can be a big help in decoding a puzzle. Try to keep some of the more common prefixes and suffixes in mind for these longer words, and see if any of them might fit the bill.

Common Prefixes and Suffixes

Prefixes: D E, D I S, E N, E M, I N, I M, M I S, O V E R, P R E, R E, U N
Suffixes: A B L E, A L, E D, E N, E R, E S T, F U L, I B L E, I C, I N G, I O N, I V E, L E S S, L Y, M E N T, N E S S, O U S

Some of those suffixes also have frequently appearing, longer variants which can sometimes decode additional letters:

Common Suffix Variants

I O N: T I O N, A T I O N, I T I O N
O U S: I O U S, E O U S, A T I O U S, I T I O U S
I V E: A T I V E, I T I V E

Remember the more common words

We’ve already covered common words with one, two and three letters, but there are a handful of other, longer words which also appear frequently in the english language.

Common English Language Words

4 letters: that ( T H A T), with (W I T H ), have ( H A V E ), this (T H I S),
will (W I L L), your (Y O U R), from (F R O M), they (T H E Y), know (K N O W), want ( W A N T), been (B E E N), good (G O O D),
much (M U C H), some (S O M E), time (T I M E), very (V E R Y),
when (W H E N), come (C O M E), here (H E R E ), just (J U S T),
like (L I K E), long (L O N G), make (M A K E), many (M A N Y), more (M O R E), only (O N L Y),
over (O V E R), such (S U C H), take (T A K E), than (T H A N), them (T H E M), well (W E L L), were (W E R E )
5 letters: about (A B O U T), where (W H E R E), which (W H I C H), their (T H E I R), there (T H E R E), today ( T O D A Y), every ( E V E R Y),
would (W O U L D), after ( A F T E R),
other (O T H E R), being (B E I N G), first (F I R S T), great (G R E A T), these (T H E S E), since (S I N C E),
under ( U N D E R), while (W H I L E), after (A F T E R)
6 or more letters: through (T H R O U G H), people (P E O P L E), between (B E T W E E N), before ( B E F O R E)

Consider the source

Apart from words which appear frequently in the english language in general, you should also keep in mind the context of the cryptogram you’re trying to decode. In our puzzles, we give you the author of each puzzle and its category, so that should immediately offer some basic contextualization clues. Ask some basic questions based on the source, such as: (1) was this a man or a woman? (2) what time period was this quote originally from? (3) what field/area was the author particularly known for?

Say, for example, the source was Martin Luther King Jr.. You can make an educated guess that his quote may have something to do with the 1960s civil rights movement. (Look for words like ‘rights’, ‘freedom’ or ‘oppression’.) A quote by Gloria Steinem may have something to do with women’s rights or feminism. (You might look for words such as ‘woman’ or ‘women.’)

Look for comparative and superlative words

Always remember that most cryptograms are encoded quotations, aphorisms, apothegms and jokes. As such, there are certain words that appear much more often in cryptograms than perhaps they do in the everyday english language. Quotations, aphorisms, and jokes often try to make a general point of some sort about life, love, people, society, etc. As such they often rely on “comparatives” and “superlatives” to make that point.

Common Comparatives and Superlatives

always, never, usually, rarely, often, best, worst, most, least, more, less,
better, worse, everyone, no-one, everybody, nobody,
everything, nothing, everywhere, nowhere

Keep an eye out for tell-tale word / phrase patterns

There are a handful of frequently-appearing words which have very distinct patterns when at least one or more of the “E T A O I N” group has been uncovered. Here are some examples:

Some Tell-Tale Word Patterns where the dash means a letter that you must figure out.

“A” ,dash, dash, A, dash, dash: always
dash, E, dash, E, dash : never
dash, E, O, dash, dash, E: people
dash, E, dash, dash, E, E, dash : between
“E”, dash, E, dash, dash : every
“E”, dash, E, dash : even or ever

Pay attention to punctuation and sentence structure

It is all too easy to focus exclusively on individual words in the cryptogram, and not the entire sentence structure as a whole.

You should try to conceptualize what parts of speech are already revealed within the cryptogram, in order to determine what kinds of words might appear immediately before or after them. If, for example, you’ve already revealed the word “the”, spelled “T H E” or the word “his”, spelled “H I S”, it is very likely that the word immediately after it will be a noun or an adjective.

Punctuation can also be a key clue. If there is a short word immediately after a comma, for example, chances are good that it will be one of the more common conjunctions (and, but, for, yet, or, so, nor, etc.).

Look for contextual repetition and counterpoint

Many quotes and aphorisms utilize the classic rhetorical art of repetition. Ever listen to a politician’s speech and realize that a certain word or phrase was constantly being repeated throughout? That’s not by accident! Orators throughout history have known that repetition is a crucial element of a persuasive argument.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that many of the quotes you’ll find in cryptograms include repeated words or phrases within them. Here are some examples:

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill

“Today, as never before, the fates of men are so intimately linked to one another that a disaster for one is a disaster for everybody.” – Natalia Ginzburg

Of course, exact repetition like that shown above won’t really help very much in a cryptogram, since once you’ve decoded one of the appearances, the others will be decoded automatically. Where rhetorical repetition really comes in handy is when it involves either “contextual repetition” (where ideas are repeated with different words) or “counterpoint” (where one idea is provided as the exact opposite of another).

Here are some examples of contextual repetition, where the same idea is repeated but with slightly different words:

“I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure.” – John D. Rockefeller

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible.” – David Brin

And here are some examples of counterpoint, where opposite concepts or ideas are presented against each other:

“It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.” – H. L. Mencken

“Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise.” – Bertrand Russell

And in case you missed them, using the superlatives and comparative technique, notice that of the above six quotations, five of them contained superlatives or comparatives: never (Churchill and Ginzburg), nothing and less (Rockefeller), more (Brin), and everything (Russell).

Proper nouns, onomatopoeia and uncommon words

If nothing seems to work for a particular word, and the patterns seem too screwy to match any commonly-used word in the english language, remember that some quotes contain proper nouns (names of places or people), unusual forms of onomatopoeia (like ‘boink’ or ‘kaboom’ or ‘whammo’), or just plain odd or unusual words that may have no meaning outside of a very specific niche. If you’ve tried every other possible permutation and nothing works, start thinking “outside of the box” for one of these.

Remember: no letter will decode to itself

This one is sweet and simple. No letter will ever decode to itself. So if there’s a ‘V’ in the cryptogram, you automatically know that the ‘V’ doesn’t decode to ‘V’. This is one of those rules that only helps out once in a while, but sometimes it can be the difference between solving a puzzle and being completely stumped!

Use the list of remaining letters to your advantage

Since every letter is decoded to one, and only one, letter, you’ll know that once you’ve uncovered the ‘T’, for example, no other letter in the puzzle will also decode to ‘T’. A big benefit of solving cryptograms in this app is that we provide you with a constantly-updated list of “Remaining Letters” at the bottom of each puzzle. This can often be a big help if you’re stuck on a word or two near the end of a puzzle, and more than one word will fit. Consult the remaining letters and work only with those to rule in or out all possible permutations.

When all else fails, use trial and error

There’s no shame in finding a puzzle so difficult and inscrutible that none of the above techniques can help you reveal a single definitive letter in the cryptogram. This is particularly true of cryptograms which are either (1) extremely short or (2) use few or no one, two or three-letter words.

In cases like these, give trial and error a shot! The beauty of our cryptograms is that there’s no penalty for guessing, and you don’t need to pull out an eraser to remove your mistakes. Try placing an ‘S’ somewhere and see what happens. If it causes an extremely unlikely series of letters to appear (say, a word starting with “SS”), then you’ll know the ‘S’ probably doesn’t go there, and you can try something else. All it takes is a tap to remove an errant letter, so don’t be shy about peppering in some guesses here and there when needed.