I’m not sure how it happened, but I noticed that there are some words and people’s names that aren’t flagged as misspelled when they ARE misspelled. I noticed it when I did a Google search, and now am paranoid that I’ll misspell them in Mail, etc, too. How can I delete an accidentally accepted misspelling in Windows?
I want to start out by saying that I love spell check on my computers and mobile devices. It helps me look smarter because who wants to see mispelled words, ummm, I mean “misspelled words” on their screen? While I suspect some people disable this feature or learn to ignore the squiggly red underline, a whole lot of us users reap the benefit of useful and ubiquitous spellcheck on our devices. Mostly, these rely on huge dictionaries that they are checking as we type, but the best of them can use local dictionaries too, so apparently misspelled words like “flikr” aren’t flagged as incorrect. This is also true for people’s names, which can be hugely useful.
Approve an apparent misspelling to add it to your local, personal dictionary and it’s fixed forever and will never again be flagged as incorrect. Which is, as you have learned, a problem if it is, in fact, incorrect! Seems obscure, but if you rely on spellcheck, having it not flag a misspelled word that’s as important as a loved one’s name can be a big problem.
What complicates this situation is that there’s not a single shared personal dictionary. Microsoft Office uses its own dictionary, for example, as do online programs like Google Docs and Outlook.com. Some of these dictionaries can be quite difficult to track down and fix, so be thoughtful before you indicate that a flagged misspelling is in fact correct.
Windows itself uses a separate dictionary too that is shared across a number of apps and the Windows interface itself. Type into a search box in Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome and it’s your PC spelling dictionary that’s also being evaluated to see if the word you type is misspelled. OneNote used to share this PC system spelling dictionary but as far as I can tell it now has its own, possibly shared with Microsoft Office.
Since you asked about Google search, however, let’s focus on that!
INCORRECTLY SPELLED WORDS FLAGGED IN WINDOWS
Here’s an example with one of the most commonly misspelled words, “withholding”:
As you can see, witholding (one “h”) is correctly flagged as a misspelling. How about Bing?
Same. Also flagged as incorrectly spelled. If I right-click on the misspelled word, a menu pops up with a lot of choices:
The very first entry in the menu is the suggested correct spelling: Withholding. But what if you accidentally click on “Add to dictionary” and then want to remove it from that PC system spelling dictionary? Well… the news isn’t so good.
First, though, I want to point out that you can search for misspelled words and both Bing and Google will automatically add the correctly spelled word to the search query:
At least they’re not snarky about it, right? 😆
REMOVING A WORD FROM THE WINDOWS MISSPELLING DICTIONARY
But what if you did approve “witholding” and now realize it was a mistake?
Let’s start by checking the typing settings on your PC. That’s easily done by doing a search for “misspelled”:
You can click on the “Highlight misspelled words” or choose the second option on the left, “Autocorrect misspelled words“. Either will take you to this System Setting window:
Notice the middle choices: Autocorrect misspelled words (which can be annoying; here’s how you disable it if you prefer) and Highlight misspelled words. One solution to your problem: Turn off highlighting. Then you won’t catch all your other misspellings, but if you’re a superb speller, maybe that’s not an issue?
I didn’t think you wanted to do that. Instead, let’s look at that local spelling dictionary. Jump there by searching in the System Settings search box (it says “Find a setting”) for “dictionary”:
It’s the second choice you want: “View contents of local user dictionary“. Choose it.
EDITING AND DELETING THE LOCAL USER DICTIONARY
You’ll be shown a list of all the otherwise misspelled words you’ve flagged as okay:
You can see that I have three otherwise misspelled words that I have noted are correctly spelled: Raine, Spaine, and Witholding.
Now the bad news.
There’s no way to remove a single entry from this dictionary. I don’t know why Microsoft doesn’t allow it, but this is an all-or-nothing proposition: Either you remove all the words you’ve listed, or you leave it intact, knowing you have mistakes.
Can’t handle it being wrong? Okay. Click on “Clear your personal dictionary” and they’ll all vanish, ready to be flagged as misspellings again. The system will simply show you this confirmation:
That’s it. Now you know. Want to clear an incorrectly approved misspelling in Microsoft Office or Google Docs? Check Bing or Google for tutorials or hit me up in the contact form and I’ll help you out and won’t withold any tips and secrets. I mean withhold, that is.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows for many years and now have an extensive Windows 10 & Windows 11 help area. Please check it out to find lots of additional tutorials and guides while you’re here. Thanks!