In preview (and apparently also in other Apple apps like Keynote, although I cannot reproduce), I get the unexpected behavior of getting a list of words when pressing the escape key in an empty search dialog.

word suggestions upon ESC click in empty search box

If I type something in the search box, select it and then press the ESC key, the search dialog is closed (as desired). With text in a newly created text box, behavior is similar only that I get these suggestions also when pressing ESC on a selected text. I don't know why I'm getting these things and my attempts to turn this behavior off have been in vain so far. (like "system preferences - keyboard - text - automatic correction -> off" didn't seem to have something to do with it)

Anybody an idea 1. why this could ever be desired (cause to me it doesn't seem like a kind of spelling correction, it just gives me high frequency German (in my case) words.) and 2. how I can turn this off?

  • I'm not sure how or why, but it looks like the list of most common words you could start with, same as you get when you type into an iPhone text area.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 27, 2015 at 16:59
  • I get this in preview when opening a PDF document that is a form to be filled out. If I click on a line to start entering text then it creates a small textbox for me. If I change my mind and try to cancel text entry using ESC I get the same suggestings.
    – Jubei
    Sep 13, 2016 at 5:17

1 Answer 1


It's the auto completion from the built in spell checker and after a lengthy search I found the solution in Apples Discussion Forums:

defaults write -g NSUseSpellCheckerForCompletions -bool false

Afterwards restart affected programs and Esc just cancels searches again.

  • awesome. That looks promising. Unfortunately, I can't test it since in my current OS version (10.12) this bug seems to have been fixed already.
    – conipo
    Nov 15, 2016 at 11:07
  • 1
    That might be, why the solution was so hard to come by.Works for me in 10.11
    – GrumpyJoe
    Nov 15, 2016 at 20:39
  • 1
    Works for me on 10.11. This should be marked as the correct answer.
    – victorlin
    Dec 5, 2016 at 3:48

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