Google Docs is a popular word processing software that comes with a built-in spell checker to catch typos and grammatical errors. However, sometimes the spell check feature may stop working properly. Here are the most common reasons why Google Docs spell check is not working and how to fix them.
Enable Spell Check in Google Docs
The first thing to check is whether spell check is actually enabled in your Google Docs settings. Here’s how to turn it on:
- Open the Google Docs document.
- Click Tools > Spelling and grammar.
- Make sure there is a checkmark next to Spelling and grammar check. If not, click it to enable.
- You can also press Ctrl+Alt+X as a keyboard shortcut to toggle spell check on and off.
Set Document Language
Google Docs spell check works by comparing words against dictionaries for different languages. If you have not set the correct language for your document, many words may be marked incorrectly:
- Click Tools > Language in the Docs menu.
- Select the language your document is written in.
- Words will now be checked against the proper dictionary.
Use the Correct Browser
Some browsers like Chrome have their own built-in spell checkers. This can conflict with the one in Google Docs. Try opening your document in a different browser like Firefox to see if that fixes the issue.
You should also make sure your browser is updated to the latest version in case there are bugs affecting spell check functionality.
Disable Browser Extensions
Browser extensions, especially ones related to spell checking or grammar, can sometimes prevent the Google Docs spell checker from working properly.
To troubleshoot, temporarily disable all extensions and test if spell check starts working again. You can then re-enable extensions one by one to identify any problematic ones.
Switch Google Accounts
If spell check works in some documents but not others, the issue may be isolated to your Google account rather than Google Docs itself. Open the document in an incognito window and test with another Google account to confirm.
If spell check now works properly, there may be a custom dictionary or setting causing problems on your original account.
Refresh the Page
A simple page refresh can clear up many minor glitches that prevent features like spell checker from working correctly in web apps like Google Docs.
Press F5 or the reload icon in your browser to refresh the page and load a clean new instance, then check if spell checking is now active.
Clear the Browser Cache
Over time, corrupted temporary browser files can accumulate and cause performance issues with web apps. Clearing your browser cache forces these files to be recreated from scratch.
In Chrome, open Settings and search for “clear browsing data”. Choose a long timeframe like “Last 4 weeks” and make sure “Cached images and files” is checked before clicking Clear data. Then reload Google Docs.
Reset Browser Settings
If other troubleshooting steps don’t pinpoint the cause, resetting your browser’s settings to factory default will eliminate any problematic customizations.
In Chrome, go to Settings > Reset settings. Click Reset settings button at the bottom to confirm. All extensions and permissions will be disabled. You can then re-enable them selectively.
Contact Google Support
For recurring issues across devices, accounts and browsers, the problem may lie with Google Docs itself rather than your specific setup. Contact Google Support explaining exactly when and how spell check fails.
Provide screenshots and document samples that reproduce the problem. Support agents can investigate backend issues and escalate them to engineering if needed.
Use Add-Ons as Alternative Checkers
If Google Docs spell check remains unreliable even after troubleshooting, third-party add-ons can provide alternative checking functionality:
- Grammarly – Robust grammar, spell check and style corrections based on context.
- LanguageTool – Open source checker for English, Spanish, German and more.
- Ginger – Checks grammar and corrects misused words.
- ProWritingAid – Analyzes style, pacing, repetition and much more.
Add-ons integrate right into Google Docs for seamless checking as you type. While not free, they may be worthwhile for frequent Docs users that need to produce professional, error-free documents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions around resolving issues with Google Docs spell check:
Why does spell check work in some documents but not others?
This often occurs when language is not consistently set. Open the non-working document and explicitly select its language under the Tools menu.
How can I check spelling in non-English languages?
Google Docs includes dictionaries for popular world languages like Spanish, French, Portuguese and Chinese. Toggle spell check on and set document language just like with English.
Does Google Docs have grammar check too?
Google Docs itself only offers spell checking, not grammar. However, add-ons like Grammarly can check advanced grammar rules. LanguageTool also catches some basic grammar issues.
What should I do if refreshing or clearing cache doesn’t fix it?
At that point, try testing in alternate browsers and accounts to isolate the issue. If spell check fails universally, contact Google Support to investigate backend problems.
While Google Docs has built-in spell check to catch typos, it can occasionally stop working properly. Following the troubleshooting tips in this guide should help restore functionality. Test in alternate browsers, clear caches, reset settings and contact support if needed. For more robust checking, third-party grammar add-ons can also augment Docs.
With the right configuration, you can feel confident that errors in your documents will be automatically flagged. This lets you spend less time manually proofreading and more time creating error-free content.