How to Change the Spell Check Language in MacOS Mail

Specify your primary language for use on your Mac

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Do you find macOS Mail balking at perfectly good Australian English and suggesting American spelling everywhere? Do you use Norwegian often in your emails, leaving the spelling and grammar checker baffled? Would you prefer your Mac not try to guess the language you are typing?

MacOS Mail employs your Mac's systemwide spelling checker. In addition to specifying one or more languages for it to check, you can pick variations for certain tongues—Brazilian versus European Portuguese, for example.

Although the basics are the same, designating the macOS spell check language differs somewhat from the method used by its predecessor OS X.

Change the MacOS Mail Spell Checker Language

To pick the languages and dictionaries used to check the spelling in the emails you write using your Mac:

  1. Open System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Select the Language & Region category. You'll see at least one language listed in the Preferred languages section of the screen that opens.
  3. Click the plus sign (+) that appears under the Preferred Languages section.
  4. Scroll through the list of available languages. Pay attention to language variants—Australian English is not the same as U.S. English, for example. Highlight a language and click Add.
  5. A pop-up asks you to clarify which of the languages listed in the Preferred Languages section is the one you want to use as your primary language. If you change the primary language, you'll need to restart your computer before it is recognized.
  1. Select any additional languages you want to add to the Preferred languages section. 
  2. To remove a language, highlight it and click the minus sign (-) under the Preferred languages section.
  3. Drag and drop the languages in the Preferred languages screen to change their order. The first one in the list is designated as your primary language. However, Mac OS X can often pick the correct language for your mail from the text you type.
  1. Click the Keyboard Preferences button at the bottom of the Language & Region preferences screen.
  2. Select the Text tab.
  3. Place a check mark in front of Correct spelling automatically.
  4. Select Automatic by Language from the Spelling drop-down menu to allow the Mac to choose the language to use. If you prefer to specify the language the Mac should use, select it from the drop-down menu.
  5. Close the Language & Region system preferences window to save the changes.