One complaint I have run into with OS X Lion and later is its new auto-correct spelling feature. OS X already had a spell checker that can check your spelling as you type, but the new version of the spell checker can be a pain in the dictionary. The new auto-correct function is very aggressive about wanting to make changes to spelling; it also makes changes so quickly that you may not notice that a word you typed has been changed.
Fortunately, OS X Lion (and any later version of OS X) also includes a system that provides a good degree of control over the spell checker. It gives you the choice to not only enable the spell checker on a system-wide basis, but also to turn it on or off for individual applications.
Enable or Disable Automatic Spelling Correction System-Wide
- Launch System Preferences, either by clicking the System Preferences icon in the Dock, or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.
- Click the Language & Text preference pane.
- In the Language & Text preference pane, select the Text tab.
- To enable the automatic spelling check, place a check mark next to the Correct Spelling Automatically item.
- To disable the automatic spelling check, remove the check mark next to the Correct Spelling Automatically item.
Enable or Disable Automatic Spelling Correction by Application
Apple also embedded the ability to control spell-checking functions on an application-by-application basis. This per-application system will work with software that has been updated to work with Lion or later. Older applications may not have the ability to turn spell checking on or off, or they may have their own built-in spell-checking system that supersedes the one built into OS X.
Depending on the application, the ability and options available to control spell checking will vary. In this example, I'm going to turn off the auto-correct feature in Apple Mail. I'll let the spell-checker retain the ability to point out an error as I type, but not to auto-correct it.
- Launch Apple Mail.
- Open a new message window. The text insertion point needs to be in an editable area of the message, so click in the body of the message.
- Click Mail's Edit menu and let your cursor hover over the Spelling and Grammar item (but don't click). This will reveal a sub-menu with various options.
- Options that are enabled will have check marks next to them. Selecting an item from the menu will toggle the check mark on or off, depending on its current state.
- To turn off auto-correction, remove the check mark next to Correct Spelling Automatically.
- To allow the spelling checker to warn you of errors, enable a check mark next to Check Spelling, While Typing.
- The menu entries in other applications may look slightly different, but if the application supports the system-wide Spelling and Grammar system, you will always find options to control the various functions in the application's Edit menu, under the Spelling and Grammar item.
One last note: Setting application-level Spelling and Grammar options may not take effect until you restart the application.