Outlook: how to turn spell check on and off

Emails are quick to write and even faster to send, but typos and grammatical errors can creep in just as quickly. In professional email communications you want to avoid such mistakes, leaving the best possible impression with recipients. Private emails too can benefit from error-free content.

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You can use Outlook’s spell check tool to correct most typos. We’ll show you how to enable and disable the Outlook spell check and what options are available to spell check in different Outlook email versions (Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, and Outlook for Microsoft 365).

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What is Outlook spell check?

The proofing tool in Outlook checks the spelling of your emails and flags spelling and grammatical errors. It works in a similar manner to the spell checker in Microsoft Word and alerts you to errors as you type.

You can enable spell check in Outlook so that emails are automatically checked for errors before sending. You’ll receive a notification when an error is made and thus can avoid accidentally sending emails with mistakes. It’s important to correct spelling mistakes before sending them because retrieving sent emails in Outlook is rarely possible. The spell checker includes suggestions for solutions and the correct spelling of words and sentences. The tool alerts you in case of missing or incorrect punctuation marks or repeated words.

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Step-by-step: how to turn on automatic spell check in Outlook?

Enabling automatic spell check in Outlook is the easiest way to continuously check your spelling. You can switch spell checking on and off with the following steps:

Step 1: Launch Microsoft Outlook and go to the “File” tab:

Step 2: Select “Options” to view the Outlook settings.

Step 3: In Outlook Options, click “Mail” and then “Spelling and Autocorrect…”.

Step 4: In the Proofing editor, you can now adjust your document settings and enable spell check in Outlook emails. Enable automatic spell check by checking the “Check spelling as you type” box and “Mark grammar errors as you type” options.

Want to disable spell check again? Simply uncheck the boxes whenever you’re ready.

Once you’ve activated the spell and grammar checker, Outlook will now automatically check your texts when composing emails and highlight any spelling errors with a red wavy line. Grammar errors are highlighted in blue.

Tip

If the proofing tool doesn’t detect any errors or incorrectly highlights words that are spelled correctly, use these tips and tricks to find out why Outlook spell check isn’t working.

You can also correct errors as you type by using Outlook suggestions. Right-click on the word that’s been flagged in red and select “Spelling”. You will now be able to view Outlook suggestions for correct spelling. By clicking on one of these suggestions, Outlook will automatically insert it in place of the misspelled word.

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Enable automatic spell check in Outlook – quick start guide

  1. Launch Microsoft Outlook and go to “File”.
  2. Select “Options”.
  3. Click on “Mail” and then “Spelling and AutoCorrect…”.
  4. Check the boxes “Check spelling as you type” and “Mark grammar errors as you type” (to deactivate, simple remove the checkmarks).
  5. Now, when you compose emails, spelling mistakes are automatically highlighted red and grammar errors are marked in blue.
  6. While writing, correct the errors by right-clicking and selecting the correct spelling from the context menu under “Spelling”.
Tip

Find out more about how Outlook AutoCorrect supports you in writing error-free texts.

How to enable manual spell check in Outlook

Irritated by the red and blue marks of misspelled words and sentences? You can quickly deactivate the automatic spell check as described above. This doesn’t mean that you need to forego spell checking. You can still use the manual spell checker, which works even after AutoCorrect is deactivated.

For this purpose, select the “Review” tab and click on “Spelling and Grammar” once you finish composing your email. The spell checker opens in a new dialog box and will suggest corrections for misspelled words or grammar errors. You can accept or reject suggestions and add your own corrections in the text field, or simply ignore them.

Outlook spell check: Set up proofing before sending

Don’t want to be disrupted by red or blue lines while writing but regularly forget to manually check the spelling of emails before sending them? Outlook has a solution for you too. The application now includes the option to auto-check your emails for errors just before sending them.

  1. Go to the “File” tab and click on “Options”.
  2. Select “Mail”.
  3. Activate “Always check spelling before sending” by adding a check mark. It’s a good idea to check the box next to “Ignore original message text in reply or forward”. This prevents notifications of errors in emails before sending.
  4. Now click on “Send” and Outlook will check the spelling of your message. If your email is free of errors, it will be sent immediately. If errors are discovered, you will receive a corresponding alert.
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