Why is the spell check in Outlook not working?

The Outlook spell checker makes it easy to check your emails for typos and grammatical errors and auto-correct them before sending. If your Outlook isn’t spell checking, grammar and spelling mistakes won’t be flagged, or correctly spelled words may come up as incorrect. Our guide helps you identify why Microsoft Outlook spell check isn’t working and guides you through the troubleshooting options – so that you can get back to sending error-free emails quickly.

Outlook spell check isn’t working: possible errors

When the Outlook spell checker stops working, in most cases, one of the following reasons is the culprit:

  1. The spell checker and AutoCorrect aren’t activated.
  2. The language settings are incorrect, and Outlook is spell checking your text in a different language.
  3. Outlook hasn’t been installed properly which may lead to errors.

The following sections guide you through different troubleshooting approaches to identify and solve common spell-checking errors in Outlook.

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Instructions: how to repair the Outlook spell checker

If your Microsoft Outlook spell check isn’t working, you can identify and repair the error in a few simple steps. The following troubleshooting guide is suitable for Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

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Solution 1: Restart Outlook

If you’ve recently made some changes to your Outlook settings, they may not take effect until you restart the application. Before restarting, first save all open documents and drafts.

Note

Restarting Outlook is also good idea after you’ve made changes to the settings. Find out more in solutions 2 and 4.

Solution 2: Check if the spell checker is correctly activated

Once you’ve restarted Outlook, it’s a good idea to check the settings for Outlook AutoCorrect. You can open the menu as follows:

  1. Go to the “File” tab.
  2. Click on “Options” in the left-hand menu.
  3. Switch to “Mail” in the pop-up window.
  4. Select “Spelling and AutoCorrect”.

From the options that are listed below “When correcting spelling in Outlook” check the box next to “Check spelling as you type” and “Mark grammar errors as you type”.

Check out our article “Outlook: Activate and deactivate spell check” to find out more about Outlook AutoCorrect and get detailed instructions on how to use the practical function.

Solution 3: Verify that automatic checking of outgoing emails is activated

If you tend to work without the spell and grammar checker and prefer to work with the auto-check for outgoing emails, you can verify the current settings for this function. First access the appropriate menu:

  1. Open the “File” tab.
  2. Launch the “Options” menu.
  3. Select the “Mail” tab.

Now, check the box “Always check spelling before sending” (below “Compose messages”). You should also deselect the “Ignore original message text in reply or forward” option, provided a checkmark is already set here. Otherwise, the program may ignore parts of your current message during the check and your Outlook won’t be spell checking as intended.

Solution 4: Change language for spell check

Start composing a new email in the usual way. Open the “Review” tab and click the “Language” button. Select “Set proofing language” to view current language settings for spell and grammar checks.

Once you’ve set the desired language, test the spell check manually by pressing the “Spelling & Grammar” button in the “Review” tab. The spell checker launches a small dialog window that should display the correct language. Remove the checkmark next to “Detect language automatically” (if there is one), as this can lead to issues, for example, if you tend to use foreign words in your emails.

Tip

Because Outlook draws upon Microsoft Word when composing texts, it’s a good idea to ensure that spell check is activated in Word and there aren’t any reasons to suspect that Word spell check is not working.

Solution 5: Check installation and update status

Is your operating system up-to-date and you’ve installed the latest updates? Is your Microsoft Office package, including Outlook, installed correctly and up to date? If you couldn’t find an error in Outlook and steps 1 to 4 didn’t work, it may be time to reinstall Outlook.

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Set up or repair outlook.com spell check

Using the browser version of Outlook for your email communications? By default, Outlook’s web version doesn’t have automatic spell and grammar checking activated. You can either activate the spell checker in your browser or enable your operating system’s spell checker for all applications.

Activate Outlook spell check in the browser (using Google Chrome as an example)

Spell checking can be activated in most browsers, including Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. This takes just a few minutes. In Google Chrome, for example, you can turn on the practical feature as follows:

Click on the three-dot icon next to your profile picture in the upper right corner. Select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.

Expand the settings menu using the “Advanced” button and then click on the “Languages” entry:

In the final step, simple activate the basic spell check.

Errors will now be automatically highlighted in red when composing emails in Chrome.

Allow the operating system to check spelling for all applications

Alternatively, you can apply your operating system’s spell checker to your browser. In Windows 10, you’ll need to enable spell checking for all applications. This is done as follows:

  1. Launch the start menu from the Windows icon.
  2. Open the “Settings” from the same menu.
  3. Select “Devices“.
  4. In the “Typing” section, check the “Highlight misspelled words” box. Want to enable automatic error correction? Simply activate the “Autocorrect misspelled words” option.

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