How do you unlearn spelling on Macs?

That is, how do you delete misspelled words that have accidentally been added to your computer’s dictionary?

If you misspell a word when working in applications such as your browser or email program, the word will be underlined in red to highlight your mistake. You can then right-click the misspelled word to replace it with the correctly spelled word from your computer’s dictionary.

But, alas, it can be easy to click “Add to Dictionary” in the right-click menu when you intended to click the correctly spelled version of the word. Then, of course, if you make the same spelling error in another piece of writing, the word will no longer be underlined in red and it may end up in your final document as a result.

If you do make this error, there is no quick way to reverse it. For example, if you make the mistake when writing a blog post in your browser, you can’t just right-click again to fix it. There is no “Remove from Dictionary” or “Unlearn Spelling” on the menu.

This is because the word you added is not stored in a dictionary that is only used by your browser. Instead, the word will be added to your Mac’s local dictionary, a list of words that is used by many different programs on your computer.

Removing pesky misspelled words from the dictionary is quite easy once you know how. Nevertheless, it’s a tad more complicated to unlearn spelling than it is to learn it in the first place.

Here’s what to do:

1: Open a new Finder window.

2: Hold down the “Option” key and then click the “Go” menu.

3: Click “Library.

4: Scroll down and click the folder called “Spelling”.

5: Double-click the file called “LocalDictionary” to open the file in TextEdit.

6: Removed any misspelled words.

7: Save the file.

8: Restart your computer or just log out and log back in again if you prefer. (You can do this later if you like, but the changes probably will not take effect until you do).

That’s it! Next time you write something, the misspelled word should once again be underlined in red.

By the way, mistakes aside, the “Add to Dictionary” option can be very useful for adding words such as place names or slang terms that the global dictionary doesn’t recognise.

Local Dictionary Mac


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