How To Turn On And Use Spell Check In Gmail

Whether your emails are personal or professional, poor spelling and grammar doesn’t make you look good. High standards of English come easier to some than others but an acceptable standard is essential in all communication. Most email apps have some form of spellcheck and Gmail is one of them. We just have to use it to ensure we come across as someone worth listening to. This tutorial will show you how to turn on and use spell check in Gmail.


There are many apps out there that purport to help you write better but most of them should be avoided. We all have different styles and ways of saying things and using an app to censor or correct everything we say is a good way to sound like everyone else. Where apps can help is with basic spelling and grammar. Keep your writing style all your own but accept a little help with spelling if you need it.

If you’re a Gmail user, you have two main options for this. You can have the browser spellcheck or do it manually within the email itself. Gmail does not automatically check spelling as far as I know.

Use spellchecker in your browser

Most web browsers will have spellcheck enabled by default but it’s easy to check. It will be a setting buried within the Options or Settings menu depending on what browser you use.

Turn on spellcheck in Chrome

To turn on spellchecker in Chrome, do this:

  1. Select the three dot menu icon in the top right and select Settings.
  2. Select Advanced in the left menu and Languages.
  3. Toggle Spell check to on.
  4. Set either Basic spell check or Advanced spell check according to your needs.

From now on, any time you type in Chrome any misspellings will be highlighted with a red line underneath. Right click the word and you will see spelling options presented to you. Select one to correct the word.

Turn on spellcheck in Firefox

You can do the same in Firefox but the menus have slightly different names.

  1. Open Firefox and select the three line menu icon.
  2. Select Options and Language & Appearance under General.
  3. Check the box next to ‘Check your spelling as you type’.

As long as you ensure the default language is correct, you will begin seeing misspellings highlighted in red. Right click and select the correct spelling from the dialog box.

You can also use the about:config menu if you prefer.

  1. Type about:config in the URL bar.
  2. Type ‘spell’ in the filter bar and find ‘layout.spellcheckDefault’.
  3. Change the integer from 0 to 1 to enable spell check.

Use spell check from within Gmail

Gmail has spellcheck built in but it won’t autocorrect. It should highlight spelling errors with a red underline but will not correct them for you. You have two options to correct spelling in Gmail.

  1. Right click the red underlined word and select the correct spelling from the dialog box.

  2. Select the three dot menu icon within the email compose window and select Check Spelling. Any spelling mistakes will be highlighted in red. Change or right click and change as above.

You also have the option to add words to the dictionary should you need to. Language changes quickly and new words are appearing all the time. While regularly updated, dictionaries are always playing catchup. Plus, local vernacular can never be fully covered by any dictionary.

The same right click menu option you use to correct spelling also gives you the opportunity to add words to your custom dictionary. Use this whenever a word is spelled correctly or is picked up as incorrect by the spell checker. It takes just a second but will improve your long term experience using Gmail.

Troubleshooting Gmail spell checker

I have seen a couple of occasions when the spell checker doesn’t pick up a word or doesn’t bring up the right dialog menu. You can do two things to remedy this, turn spell check off and then on again or check your browser for old spellchecking addons.

The first method uses the steps above for your browser as it’s usually the browser at fault and not Gmail. Follow the steps above and toggle spell check to off. Then toggle it back on again to see if it works.

If it doesn’t, check your Gmail extensions or Chrome/Firefox extensions for a spellchecking addon. If you use one, it may have gone out of date or be conflicting with the built-in spell check. Disable the addon, retry spell check and either update and turn on or leave the addon off.