macOS spellcheck is not good enough.

I was trying to type the word “notif”, which is shorthand lingo for “notifications” in a company I used to work at. In that context, “notif” is the correct spelling. If you write “notif”, you are one of us. If you write “notifications”… it’s obvious you’re not from around these parts. The development of in-group lingo and technical jargon is a standard feature of social groups and technical disciplines and should be a hard design consideration in any spellcheck system—not a peculiarity to be obliterated by crudely standardizing all language to some perpetually out-of-date dictionary that no one gives a shit about.

After typing the space following the “f” in “notif”, macOS immediately changed the word to “notification” without any indication that that would happen.

Actually, it wanted to display a little bubble showing me that it intended to complete “notif” to “notification”, but that bubble UI takes longer to show than it takes me to hit the space bar. That is ridiculous. I’m running a quad-core 4GHz computer and a spelling AI can’t run fast enough to keep up with my fingers. That means it shouldn’t run at all.

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WTF, Apple.

Whoever signed off on this system made an incorrect decision. Or, at the very least, nobody bothered to reevaluate the decision in light of 21st century internet communication norms. A premier law firm once made a spelling error in the title of a patent filing for me—I cared about that. But nobody cares at all if you make a spelling error in a personal social media post. The upside to spellcheck is approximately 0.

The downside is that the system compromises user agency. Don’t understimate this. If you’re tuned in to the zeitgeist, it’s obvious that many people experience a deep and unsatisfied need for control. The bicycle for your mind should not prevent you from riding in the direction you want to go.

Here’s how to turn off this inadequate spellcheck system (as of macOS High Sierra 10.13):

  1. Go to Keyboard preferences.

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2. In the “Text” tab, uncheck “Correct spelling automatically”, “Capitalize words automatically”, and “Add period with double-space”

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3. Open the “Spelling” drop-down that says “Automatic by language” and select “Set Up…” at the bottom. Un-check every language.Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 11.48.14 AM.png

Now type however you dam well please.