I'm running into an annoying issue with OS X's automatic spelling correction where the word nala gets automatically corrected to napa.

I've tried adding nala to my custom dictionary under ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary but it still reliably makes the correction anyway.

How do I configure OS X to not automatically correct a given word short of turning off automatic correction entirely which is not really desirable?

9 Answers 9


Yes you can do it.

  1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Text.
  2. Click the + sign on the bottom left to add a new text replacement.
  3. In the Replace column, put the word you want OS X to stop autocorrecting (no spaces are allowed).
  4. In the With column, put the exact same word you put in the Replace column.

Voila. You're done.

This has worked flawlessly for me every time.

  • 2
    Great answer. Unfortunately, this does not seem to prevent Mail (and probably other OS X Apps) from oh-so-helpfully changing "--" to "—". "--" is how you indicate a comment in Ada, so when I write sample Ada code in an e-mail, I find it very frustrating. Feb 5, 2015 at 16:15
  • 3
    I might get downvoted for saying so, but this is not the correct answer. This solution, though functional, is a hack. Looks like @grgarside's answer, posted 2 years later probably when the non-hack solution was available, is the correct answer now. Jan 22, 2017 at 19:29
  • Unfortunately, this does not work in Sierra.
    – clickbait
    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:25
  • @boulder_ruby I posted my answer 4 months before this one, not 2 years later! Adding words to LocalDictionary using the spelling dialog, or manually editing the file, would appear to be less hacky, but I suppose this answer is easier for people to follow, many of whom may be already familiar with replacements especially on iOS.
    – grg
    Apr 29, 2019 at 7:10
  • I tried to do this for abbreviation for within, and unfortunately it doesn't work. w/i always gets autocorrected to w/I and neither case text replacement makes it stop. Sep 10, 2020 at 14:23

When typing the word, right-click it and choose Spelling & GrammarShow Spelling and Grammar. This will bring up a window similar to the one below. It should say that the word was not found in the spelling dictionary.

Click Learn to teach the word to the current dictionary.


The file ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary only contains some of your corrections. This depends on which language you have currently selected. For example, my ~/Library/Spelling/ folder contains multiple custom dictionaries depending on the language that I have currently set. As well as LocalDictionary, I have files named en and en_GB. Editing these files instead of LocalDictionary can help set custom words when they refuse to be read from LocalDictionary.

├── LocalDictionary
├── dynamic-counts.dat
├── dynamic-text.dat
├── en
└── en_GB 
0 directories, 5 files

If you hold the option key when you hit the space bar after typing the word autocorrect will not change the word.

  • 1
    This does not work for me. Jul 9, 2015 at 4:39
  • 1
    The only thing that works for me are one of these two annoying procedures: (1) take my hand off the keyboard, move it to the mouse and position the cursor to the "X" and click; (2) backup and change the word back to the correct spelling. The program then seems to understand that it should not attempt to change the word. It simply underlines it with the squiggly red underline. Jul 9, 2015 at 4:45
  • 1
    This does not work for me either.
    – jjz
    Feb 4, 2016 at 19:46
  • Pressing escape key seems to work for me Feb 10, 2022 at 20:09
  • 1
    Holding option and typing a space actually inserts a non-breaking space, which is a different character. It's like a space, but a line won't break on it.
    – Cai
    Nov 15, 2022 at 14:27

Hitting Esc seems to override the autocorrect for me. It has the same effect as hitting the X button on the suggested "correction."

It's not a permanent fix for a word you need to use consistently, but it should help avoid you adding hundreds of words to the dictionary or turning off autocorrect completely.

  • 1
    This does not work. Hitting escape closes the autocorrect recommendations bubble but when you press spacebar it replaces the word anyways.
    – jjz
    Feb 4, 2016 at 19:47
  • It seems to work for me in macOS Monterey 12.2 Feb 10, 2022 at 20:10

This has been driving me crazy for weeks (on and off for years) until I had time to sit down and briefly brute force find a solution. I figured that there must be a solution - there just must be.

Here is the solution - it works and has been tested on different versions of MacOS. It may be that it was not designed to be a solution to this particular problem and it could be a coincidental answer but it is an answer.

When you have typed the word and before pressing space hold down option (⌥) and the escape whilst pressing space. The word will not be autocorrected.

An occasional side effect of this solution is that subsequent spellings of the word may temporarily also not be corrected but this is not consistent.


Go to System PreferencesLanguage & Text.

Choose the Text tab. There you can see all of the auto-correct words - just disable\delete nala.

  • 2
    That list relates to symbol and text substitution which is a separate feature to auto-correction and so cannot be used to solve my problem
    – RobV
    Oct 7, 2013 at 15:23

Right click on the word and choose Learn Spelling.

  1. tap two fingers on the trackpad with the cursor on the word
  2. it will pop up a dropdown list
  3. uncheck the "check spelling" and "autocorrect spelling"

    voila! your are done ...the England People will not trouble you anymore

    the other options will be a tedious one to add all the craps one by one

  • 1
    OP specifically says not this.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 21, 2016 at 14:44

Go to System Preferences > Keyboard . Go to text tab. Uncheck "Correct spelling automatically".

  • 1
    The question says "short of turning off automatic correction entirely "
    – mmmmmm
    Nov 6, 2014 at 10:24

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