I see that in a lot of your e-mail tips, you mention a Spelling tab in Outlook Express. I don’t have the spelling tab on mine and the spelling icon is sometimes grayed out when I am typing an e-mail. Why is this and how can I get the spellchecker to work?

I’m very glad you asked this question, because I know for a fact that you’re not the only one this is happening to. I get several e-mails about this topic, so it was only a matter of time before I addressed it. If you use Outlook Express and you can’t seem to find the option to use the spellchecker for your e-mails, keep reading!

Fortunately, there are a few things you can check to find out why the spellchecker isn’t working. This leaves several options for you as you go about troubleshooting this problem. The causes are explained in detail below. Try one option and if it doesn’t sound like your problem, check out the next one. Hopefully by the time you’re done reading this tip, you’ll have your spellchecker problem all fixed up.

1.) The first thing you’ll probably want to look into is the version of Outlook Express that you have on your computer. If you have any version older than OE 6, there is not a spellcheck option. If you have OE 5, 5.01, 5.5 or anything even older than that, Outlook Express cannot check the spelling for you. You will probably get an error saying something like “An occurred while the spelling was being checked.”

To see what version you have, open OE and go to the Help menu and choose About Microsoft Outlook Express. A box will come up on your screen and your version will be right there in big letters.

2.) This next cause isn’t very well known, I don’t believe. I think a lot of people assume that a spellchecker will come with a new version of Outlook Express, but that’s not always the case. There always has to be something else there to make the feature work. In order to have OE spell check your e-mails, you have to have another word processing program installed on your computer that OE is compatible with. For example, if you have a version of Microsoft Word or another familiar word processor, the spellchecker will work in Outlook Express. Another program that works with OE is Microsoft Works, but versions 4 through 6 are the only ones that will. Anything older or newer than that doesn’t have compatibility with the Outlook Express spellchecker. So, if you don’t have any type of word processing unit on your computer, you may want to get one if the e-mail spellchecker is that important to you.

3.) The Outlook Express spellchecker will close down if you have the programs of Microsoft Visual Basic 6 or Microsoft Access 97 running on your computer. Now, this is only true if you have one of those programs running at the exact same time that you’re trying to use the spellchecker. If you have those programs closed out, you can still access the spellchecker and it should work fine (if you have a word processing program installed, that is).

4.) One other problem could be the way you have your spellchecker set up. If you meet all of the requirements needed to make the spellchecker work, but it’s still not doing it the way you want, try this little ditty. Go to Tools, Options and click on the Spelling tab. Make sure the message that says “Always check spelling before sending” is checked. This way, you won’t have to worry if the spelling was corrected or not, because this option will automatically do it for you before every e-mail is sent off to the recipient.

Obviously, the last cause is the easiest to cure, but at least now you have some guidelines you can follow if you ever run into a missing spellchecker mystery.

~ Erin