How to Use Spell Check on a Mac

By J.T. Barett

A step-by-step guide to using the built-in spell checker function on Mac OSX for Notes, Pages and other apps.

Apple’s Mac OS X has a built-in spell check function available in many text-oriented apps, including Pages, Notes and Stickies. Web browsers such as Safari and Chrome also have this feature. You can set spell check to work automatically as you type or use it on command from the menu.

Step 1

Open an app on your Mac, such as Pages.

Step 2

Click the Edit menu and select Spelling and Grammar. Enable Check Spelling While Typing if it isn't already activated.

Spelling and grammar options

Step 3

Open a text document. Mac OSX underlines mistyped words in red.

Sample text document

Step 4

Click near the end of a misspelled word to see suggested correct spellings. Click one of the suggestions to correct the mistyped word.

Spelling suggestion

As an alternative, double-click the mistyped word to select it, then right-click the word. Click one of the suggestions from the resulting menu to fix the spelling error. For slang, jargon and other words that may not be known to your Mac, click Learn Spelling to include it in the Mac’s internal dictionary, or click Ignore Spelling to ignore the error for now, but treat it as misspelled in the future.

Alternative spelling suggestion method


You can "step" through misspelled words in a document, one at a time, with the keyboard shortcut command-;.


Microsoft's Word for Mac has its own menu to access the spell check function. To see it, click the Preferences menu. Under Authoring and Proofing Tools, click Spelling and Grammar. Spell check for Word for Mac 2011 sometimes does not work. Microsoft has posted steps to resolve this problem.