Autocorrect has made our lives so much easier — never again will we suffer the humiliation of sending a typo to a friend or making a grammatical error in an email to a colleague.
Except, that’s not true. If anything, autocorrect has made texts and emails sent from mobile devices even more embarrassing. A cursory search through Google will reveal a spectacular array of autocorrect fails and cringe-worthy messages, all caused by our supposed life-saver.
Frustratingly, sometimes autocorrect can appear like an untameable beast. It stubbornly corrects words that it clearly shouldn’t, wreaks havoc on capitalization, and frequently refuses to let you type what you want.
So, what can you do? We investigate.
Turn Off Autocorrect
The simplest and most effective way of beating your autocorrect is to just switch it off. It might be heavy handed approach, but it’s sure to stop you accidentally telling partner that you’re splitting up with them.
The method is more or less the same on all versions of Android, but might vary slightly depending the exact device you have. The method detailed below works for Google’s stock keyboard on a Nexus 5, but you can easily adapt it to your own needs.
You have two ways to access the relevant menu — either head to Settings > Language & input > Google Keyboard, or long-press the comma (,) button when using your keyboard, choose the gear icon that pops up, then select “Google Keyboard Settings”.
Once you’ve arrived at the correct menu you need to tap “Text correction”.
You’ll then be presented with a long list of options — all of which are useful for someone who wants to tweak their autocorrect.
Let’s take a closer look.
Before you disable autocorrect completely, it’s important to understand that the Google default keyboard comes with differing levels of severity. If you’re having real difficulty with the feature, it’s possible you have it set to “Very aggressive” or “Aggressive”. Modest should be adequate for most people.
To check which severity level you are using, and to disable the function all together, you need to choose “Auto-correction” from the list. You’ll then see the three levels of correction along with a way to turn it off completely.
If you are set to moderate and you’re still having issues, it’s worth exploring a couple of the other settings in the menu before taking the nuclear option.
If your phone keeps suggesting misspelled words, or worse, complete gibberish, it’s possible you’ve accidentally saved that word in your personal dictionary.
Keep in mind that if you have more than one keyboard input language set up, you’ll have a personal dictionary that corresponds to each, as well as a global dictionary.
Just choose “Personal Dictionary” from the Text correction menu, and you’ll see all the dictionaries on your device. Scan them all for the misspelled word that keeps bothering you. If you see it, simply click on it, then press the trash can in the top right corner.
It’s also worth remembering that this menu allows you to add words to the dictionary, such as an unusual pet name, your hometown, or your email address. You can even assign each word a shortcut; for example, you could set “abc” to be the shortcut for your email address and “123” to be the shortcut for your telephone number.
Perhaps it’s not the autocorrect itself that annoys you, but instead the endless stream of suggestions that pop up above the keyboard every time you press a letter.
Word suggestions can be broadly broken down into three categories – correction suggestions (where you’ll see a list corrections if you mistyped a word), personalized suggestions (where Google monitors your usage of the keyboard across the phone to learn what words and phrases you use regularly), and next-word suggestions (where Google will predict what it thinks you’re next word will be to save you from typing it).
All three have positives and negatives — but luckily each of them can be turned off individually. For example, you can see that I have the next-word suggestion disabled, but make use of correction suggestions and personalized suggestions.
If you’ve tinkered with all these settings and are still having problems, it might be time to look for a different keyboard.
There are lots of excellent alternative Android keyboards in the Google Play Store — some of which boast more features than Google’s default offering.
Some of these third-party keyboards specialize in predictive text and autocorrect, with two of the widely-acknowledged market leaders being Swype and Swiftkey.
Swype is based around the concept of swiping your finger over the keys you want in one consecutive motion rather than individually tapping them. It automatically updates its dictionary with new words and phrases that you type, but if you type too quickly, it can lead to a poorly curated custom list — remember that the quality of what you put in affects the quality of what you get out.
How do you combat autocorrect and predictive text? Have you given up the fight or have you got some tips to pass on to our other readers?
Whatever your situation, we’d love to hear from you. You can let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.