If you are using alpine as your email client, you may find that hitting ctrl-T to invoke a spell checker does not work, in alpine 1.0 as installed in Ubuntu. It is easy to fix.

I looked around for the answer to this question, but it is a bit esoteric so there is very little, and what there is stands mainly as examples of the down side of community support. People state that the spell checker is not working, and others answer with various bits of advice that do not work at all because they are nothing other than vague guesses that do not address the problem.

It is possible, even probable, that other distros install alpine in a manner that functions correctly, and this may be a bug in the Ubuntu distribution, but I’m not sure. In any event, this is what you can try to fix it:

From within alpine, be at or go to the main menue

go to setup (S)
go to configure (C)

search for “spell” using ctrl-W (hit ctrol-w then type in “spell” without the quotes and hit enter)

You will arrive at the option “Spell Check Before Sending” … check that if you like, up to you.

Hit ctrl-W again and accept the default (“spell”)

You should now be at the option “Speller” which probably has no value set.

Hit enter to allow entry of a value, and type in:

aspell -c

This assumes you have aspell installed, which, if yo ure using Ubuntu you do. Note that the tricky part here is the ‘-c’ option. This causes alpine to invoke aspell in the “check spelling” mode.

If that does not work, complain in the comments below and someone will figure it out for you. Maybe.

For more information about alpine click here.

Comments

  1. #1 davem
    October 4, 2009

    ..or just use Thunderbird. Job done.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    October 4, 2009

    Thunderbird is not a text based application, so it would not do.

  3. #3 Dan J
    October 4, 2009

    Quite helpful. I’ve used pine and elm in the past, but wasn’t aware of alpine until I saw your post. Now I’ll use it when I want to send a quick email while SSH’ed into my machine at home.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    October 4, 2009

    Here’s the big problem as I see it: Personal dictionaries, the dictionaries to which one ads words that the regular dictionaries do not have, should be (if the user wants) all the same file. One advantage of using alpine is that it uses the same dictionary as gedit, and aspell.

    Openoffice.org writer, which is increasingly intercompatable with Word, and thus increasingly sucks, uses some crazy other thing. So, I’ve switched (for now anyway) to abiword, which uses aspell. However, abiword, even though it uses aspell, does not use the standard personal dictionary because of the way it is installed (it actually doens not use aspell, but rather, Enchant, which in turn does not even try to find the user’s dictionaries but sets up its own set of dictionaries. Which makes Enchant pretty much of a Software FAIL IMHO)

    There is a way to fix this. Recompile abiword/enchant with different switches. Which I’m not going to do.

    (I can’t even find the damn enchant pers. dictionary at this point)

  5. #5 Tomer Guez
    October 6, 2009

    > How to get alpine to spell check your email

    There is a good spell check program Spell Check Anywhere (SpellCheckAnywhere.Com). It works in all programs, including web, blog, emails.

  6. #6 Norm
    October 14, 2009

    Hello Greg: Google found your entry for getting alpine to spellcheck. Thanks! Works for Alpine 2.00 (DEB 1167 2008-08-23) on debian sid.

  7. #7 Andreas
    August 3, 2010

    Hey,
    I wanted to build a very minimalistic Arch Linux system with mostly text based apps so I came accross Alpine.

    Thanks to you I can spell check now in Alpine 2.0.

    Thanks a lot man
    Greets from Germany
    A

  8. #8 Bonnie Dalzell
    Maryland
    June 29, 2012

    Thanks for this tutorial. It worked in May 2012 for Linux Mint XFCE to fix my alpine so it now does spell checking.

    Although my system is modern enough to run a fancier e-mail program I really like alpine and find it faster to use than GUI email programs.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    June 29, 2012

    The cli rules!

  10. #10 Neal
    February 5, 2013

    Thanks Greg. Alpine also rules :-)