Proper spelling is more than a courtesy; it’s also a sign of intelligence and good education.
These days, you don’t actually need to know how to spell to make a good impression. If you’re smart enough, you’ll just use one of the many free spell-check tools, some of which can also correct your grammar. And by paying a little attention to the corrections these tools make, you can also improve your native spelling skills on the go.
The Situation In Chrome
Chrome comes with a native spell-checker, which should be enabled by default. The dictionary is typically set to the language of your operating system, but you can add and switch between multiple languages. This spell checker also offers an advanced version that uses the Google search spell-checking technology. This, however, involves routing your text through Google’s servers. So let’s see all the options in detail.
Enable Chrome’s Native Spell-Checker
To enable or disable spell-checking, click the Chrome menu button in the top right on the browser toolbar. Select Settings and at the bottom click Show advanced settings. Scroll down to Languages and click the Language and input settings… button.
Notice that you can also enable or disable page translations.
At the bottom of the Languages settings menu, you can check a box to Enable spell checking. Next to that option is a link to your Custom spelling dictionary, which lets you add words to the default dictionary used by Chrome. This is where you can add names and things you frequently use and know how to spell better than Google does.
Add Additional Languages To The Chrome Spell-Checker
If you often type in another language than the default language of your operating system or Chrome, you can add different languages (dictionaries) to Chrome, such as English (United Kingdom) or Spanish. Click the Add button in the bottom left of the Languages settings window, choose the language from the drop-down menu and click Done.
Using The Spell-Checker In Chrome
So now you have enabled the spell-checker and added the languages you use. The question is, how does Chrome know when to spell-check and which language to use?
By default, Chrome spell-checks words in all text fields, however, you can easily and temporarily turn it off or make sure it’s turned on. At the same time, you can also change the language (dictionary) Chrome is using. Right-click into a text field and choose Spell-checker options from the menu. In the options menu, make sure the Check the spelling of text fields is checked and choose the appropriate language.
In the example above I typed some German words, which were promptly marked as badly spelled as Chrome was using the English dictionary. After I set Chrome to German and clicked the line of text, the red underlining disappeared.
Note that Chrome (unlike Firefox) doesn’t automatically spell-check long texts you open. It will spell check everything as you type though, if spell check is enabled. To process a long text, for example when opening a post in WordPress, you have to click each paragraph to initiate Chrome’s spell-check for that paragraph.
Finding The Right Spelling
When you see a word that is marked as misspelled and can’t think of the right spelling for the life of you, right-click the word and see what Chrome suggests. In most cases, this will resolve the issue. In the example below, however, I purposely misspelled laugh as lauhg; a simple typo. Unfortunately, Chrome’s suggestions are pretty much useless.
This is where Google’s advanced search features can be helpful.
Ask Google For Suggestions
Via the spell-checker options menu shown above, you can also Ask Google for suggestions, which will enable the spell-check technology used for Google search.
The suggestions for the example above suddenly look like this:
Quickly Add Words To Your Custom Dictionary
As mentioned above, you have a custom dictionary that you can fill with words you frequently use and know how to spell better than Chrome or Google does. Rather than going through the settings menu, you can right-click on the word and select the Add to dictionary option from the top of the menu.
It’s a little disconcerting that Chrome’s only suggestion for how to “properly” spell MakeUseOf is Masseuse and Google has nothing to add to that. You would think they would know better!
Note that your custom dictionary is always enabled, regardless of which language you select.
Alternative Spell Checkers For Chrome
Update November 2016: The developer no longer maintains this extension.
If you need a great spell-checker for Gmail, try ezAutoCorrect for Gmail. It’s better than Chrome’s in that it can automatically correct your bad spelling as you type and even fixes things like capitalizing words following a period. The tool recognizes around 700 common typos.
Be sure to read our review on this auto correct addon for Chrome.
Finally, there is Ginger, a spell and grammar checker for Chrome, which I want to mention because it also checks your grammar. In terms of its interface and integration, however, the native Chrome spell-checker has the advantage.
How Do you Spell-Check and Proofread?
The best spell & grammar checker will always be a human, aided by technology. Technology often isn’t smart enough to understand the context and thus may offer funny words. By asking Google for suggestions, however, you will get close to perfect corrections.
For some entertainment around this topic, did you know that spelling controversies sparked a few Wikipedia edit wars? Check them out here: