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Mac 101: Use built-in OS X tools to spell and grammar check your documents

spell check

Though it is not touted as a flagship feature, OS X ships with several useful tools that spell and grammar check your documents as you write. These options are hidden in the system preferences and app menus, but they can be particularly useful once you discover them.

The spell and grammar check feature in OS X can be used in two very different ways, depending on whether you prefer automatic or manual correction. For those who prefer correction on-the-fly, you can configure OS X to check and fix mistakes automatically as you write. For do-it-yourselfers, you also can perform a spell check manually using the Spelling and Grammar option available in the "Edit" menu in many apps.

Automatic spell and grammar check option

Set a system-wide option to correct spelling automatically in all apps that support it:
Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Text. Select the option to "Correct spelling automatically." All incorrect words are corrected as you type. You do have to remember to proof read as OS X can make mistakes in the autocorrection process.

Manual spell and grammar check options

Correct spelling as you type:
Choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Correct Spelling Automatically (a checkmark shows it's on). Misspelled words are automatically corrected (unless they begin with a capital letter or appear alone on a line). This option can be used when you occasionally want auto-correction in an individual document and not system-wide.
Check spelling as you type:
Choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Spelling While Typing. Misspelled words are underlined in red. This option is useful when you want OS X to check the spelling as you type and highlight your mistaken words so you can go back and manually fix them.
Check spelling in an entire document:
Choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Document Now. The first error is highlighted. To show the next error, press Command-semicolon (;). To see suggested spellings for a word, Control-click it.
Check the spelling of a word:
Select the word, then choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Show Spelling and Grammar.
Check both grammar and spelling:
Choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Grammar With Spelling (a checkmark shows it's on). Misspelled words are underlined in red and grammar errors in green.

Advanced options for spell and grammar check

Accept or ignore suggested words:
To accept a suggestion (shown when automatic correction is on), press the Space bar or click the one you want, then continue typing. To ignore a suggestion, just continue typing.
Add a word to your personal dictionary:
Control-click the word, then choose Learn Spelling. The word won't be flagged as misspelled in any document.
Remove a word from your personal dictionary:
Control-click the word, then choose Unlearn Spelling.
See a suggestion's dictionary entry:
Click Define.
See alternatives:
If no suggestions are listed, click Guess to show any possible alternatives
Use a different language to check the document:
Choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Show Spelling and Grammar. Then choose a language, or choose Open Text Preferences to see more options.
Correct an error:
Choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Show Spelling and Grammar. Retype the word, then click Change. Or double-click a suggestion in the list.
Leave a word unchanged:
Click Ignore. The word is ignored if it occurs again in the document, but is highlighted if it appears in other documents. (In some apps, you can Control-click the word in the document, then choose Ignore Spelling.)
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