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macOS Mojave cannot detect that I made a mistake at badd and cannot guess that "approximately" was spelled incorrectly.

How can I improve the built-in spell checker? (i.e. I don't want to use a spell checker inside Microsoft Word or similar third party application that has its own spell checker)

There is a good thread here, but no solution either:


I also tried Grammarly. That company promises in tons of online ads that its app and browser extension can help you identify “errors that other spelling and grammar checkers just can’t catch.”.

...First Do No Harm” would be a better founding principle. IMHO Grammarly is not a good product because it caches many errors that aren't. Take any error-free text and look at what Grammarly does with it. Here, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Grammarly UDHR

Next I tried SpellCatcherX who was 100 times better when it worked, but it doesn't really work anymore.


What can be done to improve this?

  • See apple.stackexchange.com/questions/455558/… it is actually possible to write your own spell server that natively integrates with system spellcheck services
    – 1110101001
    Mar 6 at 7:56
  • (it's likely this is how spellcatcherx worked since it too apparently integrated with system spell checker. Also based on Wikipedia the reason why it's since unmaintained is a bit tragic... apparently the dev passed away)
    – 1110101001
    Mar 6 at 7:58

3 Answers 3


There is a small application that runs in the background called popclip which has add-ons to check your spelling. Seems to work almost everywhere. It has many other add-ons to help you work. I've been using pop=clip for years with no problem. The spell checker seems to run everywhere and if you select the misspelled word and double-click it, popclip presents you with an alternative spelling.

  • @jmf PopClip looks amazing! I think that would be my accepeted answer, especially combined with dictionaries.io (provides the dictionaries in other languages). Can you edit your answer to focus on that? Someone else already mentionned Grammarly and I think it's a poor product.
    – jmfayard
    Dec 15, 2018 at 8:48

Actually, there is one.

This example is for US English.

First run these commands:

cd ~
curl -o en_US.dic https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wooorm/dictionaries/main/dictionaries/en/index.dic
curl -o en_US.aff https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wooorm/dictionaries/main/dictionaries/en/index.aff
sudo mkdir -p /Library/Spelling
sudo cp ~/en_US.* /Library/Spelling

Now go to System Preferences menu and under Text tab remove all checkboxes. All of them. They are bugy (After the below steps works for you, you can try to add them and see if they work for you).

Then, Click the Spelling drop down and scroll all the way down. Click "Set up..." Remove ALLLLL the options. Keep only "English" selected. and under English, select only U.S English (Library).

That's it. Click Done.

  • 1
    Good post, basically while you can't change the hunspell algorithm used, you can add custom dictionaries. It's not clear why Apple's hunspell implementation doesn't work properly. It's possible they're using old or incomplete dictionary
    – 1110101001
    Dec 19, 2022 at 22:07

There is no actual way you can drastically improve the spellchecker.

You could try a third-party application. A good one to use would be Grammarly. I personally use it and it can be downloaded here.

It offers an extension for commonly used browsers as well.

  • why the downvote? its a solid answer.
    – Natsfan
    Dec 14, 2018 at 0:45
  • @Daniil Thanks for suggesting Grammarly. I updated my post to say that I did try it and IMHO it's a poor product that produces a lot of false positive, "errors" that aren't.
    – jmfayard
    Dec 15, 2018 at 8:28

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