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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit Apps
First, I know what you're thinking. Why do this? Well, we have a one-a-year project in which students must take a spelling test on the computer, but spell checking must be disabled. The computers are running 10.4, so your mileage will vary with 10.5. Since we could not find a good text editor solution that was familiar and easy on the eyes for K-12 students, I decided to look into the situation. In the end, we wound up using the bundled TextEdit, but I needed to figure out how to disable the underlined miss-pelled (yes, I did that on purpose) words, and prevent the user from running spell check at all.

To disable the underlines, I found a program called Despeller, which removes the underline by replacing the red-dot-line image with a blank image (note that this change affects every program, as it's a system-level change).

To prevent students from using TextEdit's spell check feature, I had to modify a .nib file within TextEdit.app itself.

First, making a copy of TextEdit. Take this copy, Control-click on it, and choose Show Package Contents from the pop-up menu. Then navigate into Contents » Resources » English.lproj. There you will find Edit.nib.

Depending on what OS you are running, this may appear as a folder, or you may have to do another Show Package Contents drill-down on it. Either way, once you are inside, look for the keyedobjects.nib file, and open that with an editor that can read .nib files -- I used TextWranger, but to each his own.

In the editor, look for these lines:
  <string>Check Spelling</string>
  <string>submenuAction:</string>
Change the second line so that the section now looks like this:
  <string>Check Spelling</string>
  <string>v</string>
Save your changes and close the file. Open your modified TextEdit.app, and you should be good to go.

[robg adds: In 10.5, the strings appear to be completely different, so I've marked this hint as 10.4 Only for now. If you have a method that works in 10.5, feel free to post it in the comments.]
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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit | 8 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: chancer on Apr 16, '09 08:21:20AM

Another reason to use Despeller is because the spell check and the underlines drive you batty! I spell pretty well, thank you very much, and besides, I use TextEdit and Stickies for code, and no, I am not going to add every little thing to the dictionary. Get those little red lines outta my face!



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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: jiclark on Apr 16, '09 08:39:43AM

I've been searching for a way to turn off the "check spelling as you type" feature in iCal. It's on by default, and you can turn it off with a right-click, but it shows up again the next time you're editing an event. I could probably live without the feature system-wide, using Despeller, but those kinds of tools always make me a little nervous. Sure wish I could figure out the "defaults write" command that would toggle off the default setting in iCal...



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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: kps on Apr 16, '09 08:50:08AM
First, I know what your thinking.
Then why didn't you fix it?

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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: osxpounder on Apr 17, '09 11:53:48AM

I'm guessing you don't know what I'm thinking: you misspelled "your". Those pesky red lines wouldn't have shown it, of course. ;)

Thanks for the hint!

I'm wondering about the wisdom of using always-on spell checking as a routine, simply because many users will get in the habit of ignoring the underlines. I write script and code, too, and I'm used to ignoring them. I'm also a champion speller, so it's not big problem, but I'm a quick, clumsy typist.

Have a good weekend.



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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: Auricchio on Apr 16, '09 08:50:22AM

The source code for TextEdit (or an abbreviated version) is included with the Developer Tools installation (part of the installer disc).

How about building that version? I'm sure there's a way to programmatically turn off spell check.

---
EMOJO: mojo no longer workin'



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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: marcus_arcus on Apr 16, '09 11:53:12AM

This won't stop your students from cheating.

The control-command-d feature that brings up definitions of words under the mouse would still work.



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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: coolsoldier on Apr 16, '09 02:38:40PM
TextEdit also supports ESC to get a list of possible completions from the spellcheck dictionary.

If I really wanted to keep students from using spell check, I'd move aside /System/Library/Services/AppleSpell.service, which disables spell checking completely. And also disable dictionary lookups by moving aside /Library/Dictionaries. I guess it all depends on how clever your students are.

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10.4: Permanently disable spell check in TextEdit
Authored by: bedouin on Apr 16, '09 06:56:22PM

I heard if you use paper there's no spell check, but I could be wrong.



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