Your application identified a misspelling. You right clicked on the underlined word. You accidentally chose “Add to Dictonary” or equivalent instead of the corrected word. Now, your spell checker is stupid. What do you do?

You google around for a solution, find one, and sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the Apple OSX operating system, the way to fix this is not the same in every version, and it may further change depending on exactly how your system is configured. Here is a method that may work for you. I apologize if it doesn’t, and if this is Yet Another Useless Post on how to fix something on your computer. But this method might work for you.

The learned (or mis learned) words are stored in a special dictionary. That dictionary is in a directory that is actually a bit hard to find.

NOTE: At some point during the following series of steps, you will be prompted to enter your system password, because you will be modifying a file that the system feels the need to protect. Just enter the password and continue. This is your log in password.

Using Finder or your favorite Finder replacement, navigate to your Hard Drive (Mackintosh HD), then to users, then your user name, then Library, then Spelling.

Use this method exactly because there is more than one folder called “Library.”

Once in the Spelling directory, you’ll see a couple of files. Many posts will tell you that the misspelled words are in the file LocalDictionary. Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. There may also be a file caled “en” (for english) or named otherwise appropriately for whatever language you are using. The misspelled word could be in there too.

In any event, look through these files by opening them up in a text editor. Right click on the filename, chose “open with” and then pick “Open with Text Editor.” Don’t open the file with anything other than a text editor (Text Editor, Text Wrangler, BBEdit, etc.), not with a word processor.

Find the word or words, delete the word and the entire line it is on. These words are supposed to be in alphabetical order, so don’t mess with that.

Save the file.

You are almost done. These words are actually stored in memory while you are using your computer. You need to eliminate the version of the file that is in memory. One’s natural inclination may be to reboot your computer but you don’t need to do that.

Open (using Control–esc) the Activity Monitor. This utility is more than just a monitor. It allows you to stop applications from running.

At this point you’ll notice that there are a gazillion applications running that you don’t even know about. This is normal. This is actually your operating system and related stuff.

Sort the list of applications, if needed, by clicking on “Process Name” at the top of the left column, and find AppleSpell

Select AppleSpell

Now, see the “X” button on the upper left corner of Activity Monitor? Click that. This will kill AppleSpell

So, the good news is that the bad words are expunged. The bad news is that your spell checker is dead.

Now, bring your spell checker back to life by right clicking on THIS. Or any word on pretty much any web page or whatever. Choose “Look up THIS.” This will force AppleSpell to magically restart.

There is an easier way to do this, but you probably already blew your chances of doing it. After you have accidentally added the wrong word to the dictionary, you can highlight the wrong word, right click, and pick “unlearn.” That, however, only works in some applications. And, if you deleted the wrong word already, how do you really know what the misspelled word looks like? Thus, the more complex, but also more reliable, method outlined above.