The issue of – Word spell check not working – doesn’t have enough documentation or case studies as it can happen on a daily basis, a few times a day or permanent. The way it acts is simple. You will start Outlook 2007 or Word 2007 and when you reach the part to use the spellchecker you will notice it will not suggest any correction and even more, it will tell you there are no errors and if you want it to continue till the end of the text, surprise…nothing new will be found like everything is correctly written, when in fact you might still have spell check errors.
For Word you would try to use the spellchecker either via its keyboard shortcut (F7 on the selected text or words) or using the review tab and “Spelling & Grammar” button. For Outlook, you would use the “Spelling and Grammar” from within Proofing Tools options, usually located in the top right corner inside a written email window.
You will easily notice the spell check function not working when you will use one of the above possible actions for spelling check and as a result, no error returned and even worse the miss-written words wouldn’t be seen as wrong so no suggestions made to correct or address the issue. Instead you will get an OK or Continue button to finish the search and continue until the end of the document where nothing new will happen.
This issue can happen when Proofing Tools settings get corrupted or broken due to a variety of possible reasons like incorrectly closing a program from Office Suite that uses it, viruses, faulty configuration or incorrectly installed updates or add-ins for the Office Suite. What caused it is not really important as I witnessed cases when both Word 2007 and Outlook 2007 were just installed with a clean and fresh copy of Windows and Word found something that he didn’t like inside a big .doc file which caused Word to stop responding and hang the application. Minutes later, I saw the classical error with “Send and Don’t Send” options. When Word was opened again spell check was not working. So you see, it doesn’t really matter what caused it unless it will happen again very soon, because then you have a problem or something that is constantly causing this which is another issue, but for now and let’s call it a first time it happens, we must focus on how to get rid of it and fix it so that spell checker works again.
The normal stuff you would do in such cases like Repair on the Office 2007 Suite and then re-installation (uninstall and install – not overwriting the same installation) doesn’t work, so better don’t waste your time. Instead try one of the below possible solutions and maybe you will be lucky and find your issue fixed. If not, don’t be afraid to leave me a comment with your problem and maybe more details like your Office Suite version and operating system and we will try to figure it out together.
One more thing to cover for Outlook, if the problem is only in Outlook but in Word it works, check the settings under Tools – Options – Spelling – Spelling and Auto-correction button – you should have at least these settings:
Check “Custom Dictionaries” also to see if the default CUSTOM.DIC entry exists as above.
I presented the solutions from most common to less possible cause for those of you who are not working in the IT field, as for the rest, you can just scroll among them and pick the one you seem fit for your case.
SOLUTION 1 (Outlook 2007):
With your Outlook 2007 opened, launch a new message window and then locate Proofing in your top right corner. Use the Spelling drop-down list and select “Set language” option.
“Do not check spelling or grammar” box should be unchecked. If not, select it and remove the mark on it so it will have the check-box located in the front of the option empty, as below.
If the issue was only with your Outlook, close it and try again. If the issue also persists in Word 2007 continue with SOLUTION 2.
SOLUTION 2 (Word 2007):
1. Open a Word document
2. Click the Microsoft Office Start button (located in your top left corner, the circle logo)
3. Select Word Options, located just below in this window, next to “Exit Word”
4. Select Add-ins from the left menu and then at the bottom of the window you will see a text saying “Manage” and a pick list. From the pick list select “Disabled” and hit the “Go” button as you can see below:
5. A new window will popup, a list and if you see in this list a “spell check” entry select it and hit “Enable” button. Enable will become active only if you select an option in the list, if you have any option to select. For example, for me there are no disabled add-ins in my Word 2007 so this window that opens after you press the “Go” button at step 4 looks like the one below:
6. If your window looks like mine, with no disabled items and obviously the “spell check” add-in not in the list, go ahead and try SOLUTION 3. If for some reason the “spell check” feature was in the list, and you had to enable it, close both Outlook and Word and open them again and test to see if it works. If it still doesn’t work continue to SOLUTION 3.
SOLUTION 3 (for both Word and Outlook 2007 as they use the same Proofing Tools system):
At this step, we can assume the Proofing Tools system is corrupted and we will rename same of the settings it stores so Office Suite will create new healthy files.
1. Navigate to %appdata%\Microsoft . The fastest way to do that is: start – run and copy/paste “%appdata%\Microsoft” without the quotes and press enter. On Windows XP it opens a Windows Explorer of the following location: C:\Documents and Settings\your_username\Application Data\Microsoft .
2. Rename the folder “UProof” to something else, for example “UProof_old” as you can see in the next picture:
NOTE: If you are on a user with limited permissions you might need to do this with an administrator account. As a workaround to avoid logout, open a notepad with an administrator account, either by right click the notepad and use “run as” option or by using the syntax for runas from a command prompt window (runas /? inside a cmd window to find the syntax). Then do the above from the notepad by using the “Open” option like you would be using a Windows Explorer just that it is from Notepad and with administrator account rights. Don’t forget to use “all types” from “file types” pick-list menu when you don’t see any items.
3. Open a registry editor: Start – run – regedit – press enter. You will have to do this being logged on as the user with the problem because the settings we will have to change are running on CURRENT_USER.
Navigate to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Proofing Tools\1.0\Override\en-US
If you don’t have any of these values, you will have to create or import them from another computer. As a hint, they are all “Keys” if you are trying to create them as a hierarchical structure as they should be located.
4. With the focus on en-US key (left click it to select), find the String Values DLL and LEX, right click each of them and rename them to something else, for example DLL_old and LEX_old.
5. Close the registry and test the spell check again for both Word and Outlook 2007.
There would be a lot more to cover as there are other possible situations when you can’t access or find some of the above options, but remember I am willing to assist you all the way with details, just present me your problem and we will fix it together. This article and the brief possible solutions should be used by the technical users as they know the implications and they can fill in the lack of details in some portions. Covering all the details would be too much time consuming and even so, there still could be parts that I would miss to cover, this being one of the reasons I won’t expand and I will better expect your questions if you think I can be of any help.