Customize the spell checker in Outlook Express (automatic spelling for email messages)
In case you didn't know, Outlook Express comes bundled with a built-in spell checker, which allows you to automatically check the spelling of your email messages before you send them. But this feature may be turned of by default, in which case you'll want to turn it on to take advantage of it; Outlook Express also includes several settings you can configure when it comes to spell checking your emails, and this tutorial gives you an overview of each of them.
Configure spell checking options in Outlook Express
Follow these steps to access and customize your email spell checker's settings:
- From the main Outlook Express window, click on the Tools menu and choose "Options"; in the Options dialog that opens, select the "Spelling" tab.
- Under Settings, you will find a "Always check spelling before sending" checkbox: to enable the feature and have Outlook Express prevent you from accidentally sending a misspelled email, check that checkbox.
- The "Suggest replacements for misspelled words" checkbox is enable by default, and will instruct Outlook Express to let you pick the word or alternate spelling of anything it finds misspelled in the email message.
- The following set of options ("When checking spelling, always ignore") controls how the spell checker operates:
- "Words in UPPERCASE" - check this checkbox to make the Outlook Express spell checker ignore potential errors in all-uppercase letters (like trade acronyms).
- "Words with numbers" - unchecked by default; if you enable this option, Outlook Express not correct words that contain a mix of letters and numbers, like "
CO2" or "Software2" (a silly example, but you will often find this in software names, with version number attached to the end of the name).
- Because the "The original text in a reply or forward" checkbox is checked, Outlook Express will only check the spelling of your text in the email you are composing, and not the rest of the message.
- The spell checker will ignore the spelling of "Internet Addresses", which makes sense: uncheck if you want Outlook Express to also spell-check URLs.
- Finally, Outlook Express lets you choose which language to use when it checks the spelling of your emails; unlike more advanced email software packages like Outlook 2007, you can only check the spelling and grammar of one language at a time. Select from the Language dropdown menu the language or localized version of English you are likely to use most of the time.
- Whenever you tell the Outlook Express spell checker that a word is not misspelled, and to add it to its dictionary, it goes into a plain text file called "
CUSTOM.DIC", which simply stores all the valid words the spell checker should ignore, one per line. By default, Windows XP opens text files like this one in Notepad, which is probably what will happen if you click on the "Edit custom dictionary" button. (Manually type the words you want to add, if any, save the file, and close it.)
Note: if the word "Spelling" is disabled (grayed out) under the Tools menu of the new email window (from where you write new messages), Windows XP has not detected your language setting and/or spell checker tool. This can be the case when you try to customize or use the spell checker when using Outlook Express in Windows 7 with Virtual PC.
There you go - quick overview of the spell checking ability of Outlook Express and the intuitive settings you can configure for it, in just a few clicks.
Outlook Express Tip: when you compose a new email message from Outlook Express, you can manually check the spelling at any point by clicking on the Spelling button in the default toolbar, or by choosing "Spelling" under the Tools menu (or by pressing the corresponding keyboard shortcut of F7 on your keyboard).