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Still copying text into Word so you can check your spelling? Stop. It’s 2013, and spell check is built into everything from browsers to PDF readers.

Old habits die hard, and when it comes to computers, it might mean you’re working harder than you need to. For a long time word processors like Word were the only programs on a computer to feature built-in spell check, meaning copying text to and from them was the quickest way to check for obvious mistakes.

That’s been over for a while, however. Here’s how to check your spelling in your browser, PDF files and more.

Spell Checking In Your Browser

This is either going to be painfully obvious, or blow your mind, but your browser has spell-check built in. Whether you’re filling out a form, sending an email or writing a document anything you spell incorrectly will be underlined in red. Right-click to see a list of suggestions.

browser-spellcheck

How this works, and the dictionaries used, varies depending on your browser of choice. Here’s information direct from the companies behind your favorite browser, if you’re interested:

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Note that third-party extensions can switch out the included spell checking for an alternative service. Dave points out that ezAutocorrect brings autocorrect to Chrome Use exAutoCorrect To Make Spell Checking in Gmail Faster & Easier [Chrome] Use exAutoCorrect To Make Spell Checking in Gmail Faster & Easier [Chrome] One of the great things about typing into a word processor like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages is that they automatically fix common spelling mistakes. While most web browsers have come a long way with... Read More , for example, correcting your mistakes immediately. Danny points out that Ginger offers both spelling and grammar check for Firefox and Chrome Get Improved Spelling & Grammar Corrections With Ginger [Chrome & Firefox] Get Improved Spelling & Grammar Corrections With Ginger [Chrome & Firefox] Whether you like to admit it or not, we all make heavy use of our computer's spell checker. They save us from all sorts of typos and downright horrible spelling. Thankfully, more powerful software such... Read More .

Spell Checking PDF Files

PDF files aren’t really meant to be edited – they’re the web’s answer to printed paper. So spell checking a PDF file without first copying the contents can be tricky.

Still, there’s ways to get around this. If you’ve got Adobe Acrobat you can edit a PDF with relative ease, complete with spell check, and there are tools for converting PDF files to DOC Three Free Tools That Convert PDF Files To Word Documents Three Free Tools That Convert PDF Files To Word Documents The PDF and DOC file formats are the bread-and-butter of modern documents. Chances are good that any specific document, be it an eBook, a study guide or a user manual, will be available in one... Read More . But Adobe Reader, and similar software, doesn’t allow you to directly check the spelling of documents you’re reading – there’s just no point if you’re not also editing it.

The exception, of course, is a PDF form. Not sure what that is? Some PDFs are filled with text boxes to be filled out, so you can print and sign a filled-in form. And if you’re using Adobe Reader 7 or later, you’ve got access to spell check while you’re doing this. Just start filling out the form and any spelling mistakes will be pointed out to you:

pdf-spell-check

Do you want to spell check in a language other than your system-wide default? Download this language pack for Adobe Reader (Windows) and you should be set.

Email Clients

I’m going to sound repetitive here, but odds are your email client already includes spell check. Major clients like Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac Mail and more all come with this ability built-in. Even the default client for Windows 8 includes it:

windows-mail-spellcheck

Mis-spelled words will be underlined, so click to see suggested alternatives.

Online Spell Checkers

Of course, if all else fails you can always copy the content from one program and paste it into another. A word processor is an obvious choice, but did you know there are websites that offer online spelling and grammar checks? After The Deadline, for example, offers an online form that can check your writing for mistakes After The Deadline - Check Your Grammar & Polish Your Writing After The Deadline - Check Your Grammar & Polish Your Writing The World Wide Web is a world of writing. Most web content is still written text and because statistics say that English is the most used language online, you definitely need good English skills to... Read More :

There are other tools for the job. Tina outlined the top 5 OCR spell-checking tools The Top 5 OCR Spell Checking Tools The Top 5 OCR Spell Checking Tools Read More , but most of her examples should work for just about anything you want to make sure of. Use them if you’re uncertain.

Other Programs

Still not sure if spell check is working? Remember, you may not be seeing any words underlined because you’re spelling everything correctly. Unlikely, sure, but it never hurts to type some gibberish (eg, asldhgopeyur) just to be sure.

This is far from an exhaustive list. I neglected to mention, for example, that if you’re using a Mac you’ll find spell checking and autocorrect follows you basically everywhere – even in simple programs like TextEdit. And a number of web services – including Gmail, Google Docs, and WordPress – provide a spell check you can use in addition to the one built into your web browser.  Spell check is a feature that’s built into almost everything, and in some ways it’s harder to find programs without spell check than ones with it.

Still, I’d like to know: which programs do you wish offered spell check? Let us know, but don’t be surprised if someone else tells you it’s already possible.

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