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<img src=’http://www.lifeclever.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/apple_spellcheck.jpg’ alt=’Apple’s secret spellchecker’ class=”large” />LifeClever reader Frank points out an awesome Mac OS X feature I never knew existed: check spelling as you type. I dug up the official description from Apple’s site:

In many Mac OS X applications (such as Mail, iChat AV, and TextEdit), you can have the application automatically check your spelling as you type. When you mistype or misspell a word, it’s underlined in red so you can quickly spot errors and correct them.

To enable it:

  1. Open an Apple app
    (so far, I know it works in Safari, Mail, iChat, TextEdit, Pages, iPhoto, and iWeb)
  2. Control-Click or Right-Click in the area you’re typing in and select:
    Spelling > Check Spelling As You Type
  3. Alternatively you can go to the menubar and select:
    Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling > As You Type
  4. Or just use keyboard-shortcut, Command + Semicolon (Thanks, Adam)

Frank adds you can do this in almost every form field in Safari. Thanks Frank!

Bonus Tip: Control+click on a misspelled word and Mac OS X will show a list of correctly-spelled suggestions. Thanks to Mark at DDO.

<img src=’http://www.lifeclever.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/suggestions.jpg’ alt=’Apple’s spelling suggestions’ class=”large” />

24 Comments

  • Adam

    gravatarMar 30, 2007
    9:05 am

    You can also use the keyboard shortcut cmd-semicolon to spellcheck while you’re inside one of those fields without fully activating the spell checker. Handy when you’re posting a comment like this one and want to quickly scan for glitches…

  • mazo

    gravatarMar 30, 2007
    10:00 am

    This works for almost every Cocoa-Application.

  • HANK

    gravatarMar 30, 2007
    2:31 pm

    firefox will to it for you too.look under preferences, very handy indeed.

  • Sham

    gravatarMar 31, 2007
    5:08 am

    Hi, Wonderful tip. It makes life a whole lotta easier.

    Thank you Sham

  • Lumineux

    gravatarApr 4, 2007
    5:17 pm

    For some reason on my Mac, this feature is already enabled by default for all Cocoa applications. And I tell you, it is really ANNOYING!

    Here’s the problem: I don’t care for the feature, so I turn off the setting, but then the next time I open the application, it is back on again. Very annoying. Some of the apps that do this are Stickies, RapidWeaver, OmniOutliner (when you start a new doc), and others.

    Some of the nice apps (like TextEdit have place in Prefs to turn off spell checking, but many apps don’t have this).

    I really wish that there was some way to turn this off on a system-wide basis, and just turn it on selectively for the few times that I want to use it. Now, if you could tell me how to do that, it would be a great tip.

  • Nabeel

    gravatarApr 6, 2007
    5:24 pm

    Thanks for this tip .. I didn’t know that Mac OSX had this feature .. well right now It’s only in Firefox (for Windows) and trust me it is soo handy.

    It’s nice to know that this feature in Mac will apply all acorss the board .. very niceee .. wa wa wee wa !!!

    Nabeel http://nabeelzeeshan.blogspot.com

  • John

    gravatarApr 11, 2007
    11:38 am

    I totally agree with Lumineux. This spell check is nice most of the time, but I wish I could turn it off and keep it off until I want it back on. In particular, I like to use the Stickies program at work, but I use a lot of techical jargon, and so nearly everything I write is supposedly ‘spelled wrong’

    I would love to know how to turn it off (so it doesn’t turn back on everytime I open the program or new file) or how to permanently ignore certain words.

  • John

    gravatarApr 11, 2007
    11:38 am

    I totally agree with Lumineux. This spell check is nice most of the time, but I wish I could turn it off and keep it off until I want it back on. In particular, I like to use the Stickies program at work, but I use a lot of techical jargon, and so nearly everything I write is supposedly ‘spelled wrong’

    I would love to know how to turn it off (so it doesn’t turn back on everytime I open the program or new file) or how to permanently ignore certain words.

  • Tim

    gravatarMay 18, 2007
    2:48 am

    I CAN’T STAND the fact that Stickies has the spellchecker on by DEFAULT in every new note. I HATE it! I mean, it’s a quick note-taking program for goodness sake! I don’t WANT the distraction of the program underlining everything in red just because i use my own shorthand to write something quickly. I think its rediculous and I’m trying to find a way to turn it off or use a different program. Its a big unnecessary distraction.

  • Damien Jorgensen – Cardiff

    gravatarMay 31, 2007
    3:08 am

    I also wish I couldnt it off and on when I want

  • Jules

    gravatarJun 21, 2007
    4:23 pm

    I agree, the default “check spelling as you type” in Stickies drives me INSANE with RAGE! It renders Stickies near-useless. I am a novelist, and if I want to check my spelling I will do so. I am very disappointed that the usually common-sensical folks at Apple would implement something so hatefully obnoxious!

    It’s as if the “helpful” paperclip from Microsoft Word turned himself on over, and over, and over. This Stickies spellchecker is a perfect example of software that actually IMPEDES the creative process… Boooooo, Apple! Booooooo…

  • Brad

    gravatarJul 17, 2007
    8:46 am

    I agree heartily with Lumineau, John, Jules and all those who find the default ON setting of ‘Check Spelling as you Type’ extremely frustrating.

    As Jules says, if I want the computer to check my spelling, I will ask it to do so and I am very irritated by all these squiggly little red lines that keep appearing under my shorthand words, proper names, abbreviations and other various words which the apple designer did not see fit to put in the dictionary. I get very tired of having to re-select this to OFF every time I start STICKIES.

    BAD MOVE on this Apple! Do NOT assume that I want my spelling checked and allow the default setting for this to be selected to OFF.

    Is there not some wizard out there that can figure how to reset the default setting for this?

  • piminnowcheez

    gravatarJul 17, 2007
    11:10 am

    Add another hater to the list, here. It drives me crazy that I don’t know how to turn this INCREDIBLY ANNOYING feature off system-wide.

  • Jack

    gravatarAug 2, 2007
    5:50 pm

    Same here. I have to check the spellchecker to make sure it hasn’t “corrected” my typing. Takes WAY to much time…………

  • melodymonger

    gravatarSep 5, 2007
    4:39 am

    I agree with all the above who are driven mad by the default spell checking ‘on’ setting in Stickies. Having recently moved from Linux/KDE to Mac OS X I was interested to see if “everything just works” on a Mac as many claim.

    On the whole it does but there are a few design decisions which I’ve come across both in the software and hardware, including this one, which are just so braindead, presumptuous and INFURIATING that you wonder what the designers were thinking.

    I use Stickies for brain-dumping ideas when developing software so virtually nothing I write in them is ‘correctly’ spelt. For a company that prides itself on good design, I’m afraid this ‘feature’ is not a good example.

  • aroger

    gravatarOct 4, 2007
    7:22 am

    to all the dear haters of stickies default “spellchecking as you type”, I found a hint on

    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040611015727765&query=stickies%2Bhidden

    however, its from 2004 but I will try as soon as I installed developper tools…

    so long

  • james

    gravatarDec 11, 2007
    5:31 pm

    i am using 10.3.9 os x and it doesn’t seem to have the ctrl and click suggestion programmed in – was this a later feature?

  • oursunking

    gravatarMay 12, 2008
    3:48 pm

    Being a LONG TIME MS Engineer, I was surprised to find the native english “Custom” dictionary has fewer words in it that native Troglodyte. When you click the line, only sometimes do you even get a close selection. Please, somebody enrich this DLL!

  • aljuk

    gravatarMay 23, 2008
    10:55 am

    This is not a “feature”, it is just a retarded pain in the ass, especially in Stickies. There is a way to disable it, but you need Developer Tools installed.

  • Lcd

    gravatarOct 1, 2008
    12:49 pm

    Not being able to turn off spell checking is a deal-breaker for me—I’m going to Windows. (Unless, of course, someone wants to explain how to turn off the “feature”.)

    There is an app called “Despeller” that may do the trick, but it’s not a solution for me since it automatically applies to all users, which wouldn’t be cool with the other users of this particular mac.

  • Dan

    gravatarApr 22, 2009
    7:13 am

    I find it very useful. Especially when I’m having a serious discussion over MSN or in an Email. It makes me look like I know what I am talking about using complicated words, which are spelt exactly right xD

    Apple xD I LOVE You – Thanks for this feature

  • WH Bonney

    gravatarJul 10, 2009
    7:47 am

    I hate the spell check in Stickies, it drives me crazy, and it’s a useless piece of garbage that almost completely ruins what should be a nice desktop application.

  • Jivejimmy

    gravatarNov 13, 2009
    7:10 pm

    I like the spell checker. I just wish it would only check my spelling and not everything in the forwarded message like other people’s email addresses. Very annoying.

  • John

    gravatarApr 27, 2010
    7:10 am

    I just wish the spell checker would automatically correct things like capitalizing the first word of each sentence, and the word i for example. Maybe Office spoiled me.