How To Spell Check A Document Without A Word Processor

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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, for example, correcting your mistakes immediately. Danny points out that Ginger offers both spelling and grammar check for Firefox and Chrome.

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. 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:

There are other tools for the job. Tina outlined the top 5 OCR spell-checking tools, 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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