How do I add and remove words to TextEdit autocorrect?

Autocorrect has become a household name thanks to memes like "damn you autocorrect". While it's more famous for automatically changing words into comical alternatives, it is possible for autocorrect to learn words. You can teach autocorrect to accept your words, and it'll no longer correct them (or place red lines underneath to indicate they are misspellings).

But how do you correct this and what to do if macOS thinks a terrible spelling is incorrect?

See also:

Microsoft Word vs Apple Pages

The 10 best Mac word processor software packages 2016

Google Docs app vs Apple Pages for iOS

Macworld Masterclass: Get started with Pages

How to edit your Mac's dictionary: use TextEdit?

For the most part, this feature is going to look at editing the system-wide TextEdit autocorrection. This is the spell checker that is used in TextEdit, Pages, Mail and other Apple apps. It's also used by some, but not all, third-party apps.

If you want to add a word to your autocorrect library, then you use a contextual menu in any supporting app. Here's how to add a new word to your custom dictionary in TextEdit.

  1. Open TextEdit and create a new document (Control-N).
  2. Enter the word you want to add to autocorrect (but do not press the space bar).
  3. Hover the mouse over the bubble underneath the word and click the "x".
  4. Control-click on the word and choose Learn Spelling.

The word will now be added to your custom dictionary.

How to remove a word from your Mac's dictionary

How to edit your Mac's dictionary

The easiest way to sort out a single annoying word in the system-wide dictionary is to use this process in reverse. If for example, the dictionary was accepting the word "teh" as correct, you'd follow these steps to correct it:

  1. Open TextEdit.
  2. Open a new document (Command-N).
  3. Write the word "teh".
  4. Control-click and choose Unlearn Spelling

The word will be removed from your custom dictionary.

How to edit your Mac's dictionary

macOS local dictionary

If you want to view the list of words in the Mac's dictionary, and edit them en-masse you can do so by diving into a file called "LocalDictionary" in your Library folder. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on Finder and choose Go > Go To Folder.
  2. Enter "~/Library/Spelling" and click Go.
  3. Double-click the file marked LocalDictionary.

The file will open in TextEdit, and each line in the text file contains a word added to the custom dictionary. You can add or delete words from here and they will be added, or removed, from your custom dictionary.

Note that this doesn't work for all text editors. Notable exceptions include Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Here is how to adjust the custom dictionary for those two apps:

  • Microsoft Word: Choose Word > Preferences > Spelling and Grammar > Dictionaries > Edit > OK. Delete the words that you no longer want to exist in the
  • Google Docs: Choose Tool > Personal Dictionary. Enter new words in the "Add a new word" box and click Add. Click the "X" next to unwanted words to remove them.