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OS X Mountain Lion: Check spelling and grammar

Check spelling and grammar

In many OS X apps you can check spelling, or both spelling and grammar, in documents such as TextEdit files or email messages.

Note: Many applications have some, but not all, of the spelling and grammar options. For example, in some applications the Edit menu has a “Spelling” option instead of a “Spelling and Grammar” option.

If you don’t see either “Spelling” or “Spelling and Grammar” in the Edit menu, the application doesn’t provide the OS X spell-checking feature. Check the application’s preferences or menus to see if it has its own spelling checker.

Accept or ignore suggested words

OS X uses “text prediction” to assist you as you type, by showing you suggested words below the word you are typing.

  • To accept a suggested word, press the Space bar and continue typing. If multiple suggestions are shown, click the one you want to accept.
  • To ignore the suggested word, continue typing as usual.

Check the spelling of a single word

Select the word, and then choose Edit > “Spelling and Grammar” > “Show Spelling and Grammar.”

Check spelling in an entire document

  1. With the document open, choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Document Now. The first error in your document is highlighted.
  2. Either correct the word or leave it as is, and then press Command-semicolon (;) to see the next error.

    To see suggested alternate spellings for a word, and get easy access to other spelling and grammar commands, hold down the Control key as you click an error.

Check spelling and make corrections as you type

  1. Open the app you want to use and choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Spelling While Typing.

    When you mistype or misspell a word, it’s underlined in red.

  2. If you want to correct misspellings as you type, choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Correct Spelling Automatically.

    Misspelled words are corrected if they don’t begin with a capital letter and don’t appear on a line of their own.

These steps enable spell check and auto-correction for the current document. Some apps, such as TextEdit, let you set a preference to enable the feature for all new documents. You can also enable this feature for all documents in apps that support this feature. To do so, select “Correct spelling automatically” in the Text pane of Language & Text preferences.

Check grammar along with spelling

With the document you want to check open, choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Grammar With Spelling, so there’s a checkmark next to it.

Misspelled words are underlined in red and grammar errors in green.

Use advanced spelling and grammar options

  1. With a document open, choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Show Spelling and Grammar.
  2. To change the language, choose it from the pop-up menu. If you want to see more language options, choose Open Text Preferences.
  3. To check grammar along with spelling, select the “Check grammar” checkbox.
  4. If an error is found, do one of the following:
    • If one of the suggested alternatives is correct, select it and click Change.

    • If none of the alternatives is correct, retype the word or words and click Change.

    • If you don’t want to make a correction, click Ignore. The error is ignored if it occurs again in the current window, but is highlighted if it’s found in other windows.

    • If you don’t want the word to be treated as an error, click Learn to add it to your personal dictionary. (In some applications, you can Control-click the word and choose Learn Spelling from the shortcut menu.)

    • To review a definition of a suggested alternative, select it and click Define.

    • If no alternatives are listed, click Guess to see whether any possibilities appear.

    • To continue checking without making any changes, click Find Next.

If you accidentally add a misspelled word to the dictionary, type the misspelling in the Spelling and Grammar window and click Ignore, or Control-click the misspelling and choose Unlearn Spelling from the shortcut menu.

Check for errors missed by the spell checker

It’s a good idea to read through your document yourself, even if you use the spell checker. If you type “fine” instead of “find,” for example, it won’t show up as a misspelled word.

To easily identify such errors, highlight the text you want to check and choose Edit > Speech > Start Speaking.

Last Modified: Aug 8, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Aug 8, 2013
  • Article: PH10844
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