Spell check dictionaries

Spell check dictionaries
Mac Tip #258/30-August-2006

In recent Tips I showed how to set your preferred languages for both your computer and your software. My settings put Australian English as my first preference, so if I check spelling in a Cocoa application such as TextEdit, the Australian English dictionary is the default.

Note: ‘Cocoa’ and ‘Carbon’ refer to different techniques for making software. Some applications are ‘Carbon’, some are ‘Cocoa’ and others use other techniques. This is a bit like cooking fish: fried, grilled and baked are all different techniques.

‘Cocoa’ applications all share the same dictionary; other applications may not offer a spell check or may use their own dictionary.

Let’s say I open TextEdit, which comes installed on all new Macs. I type some text, in my case including some Māori words, one with a macron (the line above some vowels), some mis-spelled words, and the word ‘jandals’, which we often use in New Zealand but which apparently is not common elsewhere, even in Australia.

I Control Click on the document to call up a contextual menu and choose Spelling….

Once the spellcheck window appears I can choose the dictionary I wish to use. Australian English was already selected because that is the setting I’ve chosen for my computer, but if I wanted to choose another language then I could do that here.


  1. Using the spellcheck dictionary.
  2. My text, with many words underlined in red to show that they aren’t recognised by the spellcheck dictionary. Notice how the a with the macron above it in the word Māori has confused the spellcheck.
  3. Some suggestions from the Australian dictionary for the mis-spelled word funeral. I can select a suggestion and click the Correct button to replace the wrongly spelled word with the correct one.
  4. The Māori placename Turangawaewae is correctly spelt but the dictionary doesn’t recognise it. I click the Learn button to add the word to the dictionary.

Note: jandals are a type of footwear characterised by a flat sole held on to the foot with a y-shaped thong. In other countries they may be called thongs or flip-flops.

Next week: Other spellcheck techniques.

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  1. Norbert C Ballauer said:

    Miraz please disregard my last message and I am sorry to have bother you, the link was over written but when I click on to submit my comment it came up just fine.
    I am sorry to have bother you.

  2. Norbert C Ballauer said:

    Hi Miraz it is that old pest again, I don’t know if you know it or not, but your link looks like some thing has been type over what you had on it, I don’t mean to pest you any but I thought you would like to know about it. I was about to copy and paste the screenshots on to my appleworks word processing that I keep all your tips.Thank you for all your work.

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