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Fast access to Outlook 2013's spell-checker and auto-correct options

In an attempt to clean up the right-click menu in Word 2013 and WordMail for Outlook 2013, Microsoft removed the AutoCorrect submenu and other options. You can add spell-check to the Quick Access toolbar, but it's faster simply to press F7.

When Microsoft released Office 2013 some Word and Outlook users were unpleasantly surprised to find the AutoCorrect options removed from the right-click (context) menu of Word 2013 and WordMail for Outlook 2013.

On its TechNet site, Microsoft explains that the change was made to streamline the right-click menus in those programs. (Scroll to the end of the long list of changes made to Office 2013 to find "Contents of spelling error context menu" in the Word section.)

In Outlook 2003/2007, you can access suggested spellings and AutoCorrect options for misspelled words by clicking the lightning-bolt icon that appears when you hover over the word.

Microsoft Outlook 2003 auto-correct menu
Click the lightning-bolt icon under misspellings in Outlook 2003/2007 to view your auto-correct options. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

Word 2010 and WordMail for Outlook 2010 expanded the context menu to include an AutoCorrect submenu in addition to suggested corrections for misspellings.

Microsoft WordMail for Outlook 2010 context menu
An AutoCorrect submenu was added to the context (right-click) menu in Word 2007 and 2010, and WordMail for Outlook 2010. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

The design team for Word 2013 and WordMail for Outlook 2013 can't be faulted for wanting to simplify the programs' interfaces. But from an aesthetic perspective, Outlook 2013's mail-composition window looks about the same as its predecessor, with the exception of the context menu.

Microsoft WordMail for Outlook 2010
The mail-composition window in WordMail for Outlook 2010 appears cluttered when compared with the mail composer in Outlook 2013 (below). Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET
Microsoft WordMail for Outlook 2013
The Webmail-like interface of WordMail for Outlook 2013 is decidedly less cluttered than its predecessor. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

In search of software that works the way we do
People don't all work alike: some of us like to click, some of us like to key, and most of us do a little of both. The best software interfaces are flexible enough to accommodate the way we prefer to work.

Microsoft suggests you access AutoCorrect in Outlook 2013 by clicking File > Options > Mail > Spelling and AutoCorrect > AutoCorrect Options. Enter the misspelling in the Replace box, the correct spelling in the With box, and click Add.

AutoCorrect Options dialog in Microsoft WordMail for Outlook 2013
Opening AutoCorrect Options in Outlook 2013 via menu options requires five separate clicks; then you enter each new auto-correct entry manually. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

One option for easier access to Outlook 2013's AutoCorrect options is to add a spell-check shortcut to the Quick Access toolbar: click New Email on the Home ribbon (or press Ctrl-N), select the Review ribbon, right-click Spelling & Grammar, and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar. (The steps are the same in the 2007 and 2010 versions of Word and in WordMail for Outlook 2010.)

Right-click menu for Spelling & Grammar in Microsoft WordMail for Outlook 2013
Add AutoCorrect to the Quick Access toolbar in WordMail for Outlook 2013 via the context menu for Spelling & Grammar on the Review ribbon. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

Now when you click the Spelling & Grammar shortcut on the Quick Access toolbar, the standard spell-checking window opens and displays suggested corrections (the same that appear when you right-click the misspelling), as well as buttons for ignoring the misspelling once or always, changing it once or always, adding it to the dictionary, and opening the Options dialog from which you can access the AutoCorrect Options.

Microsoft WordMail for Outlook 2013 spell-check options
Get one-click access to WordMail for Outlook 2013's spell-checker by placing its shortcut on the Quick Access toolbar, or simply press F7. Screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

If you can manage to remember one more keyboard shortcut, you needn't customize Outlook's toolbar at all: simply press F7 to open the program's spell-checker, and then press Alt-O and Alt-A (or click Options > AutoCorrect Options) to open the AutoCorrect dialog.

A post from September 2010 explained how to copy custom AutoCorrect entries from one version of Word to another. A reader contacted me recently to complain that his custom AutoCorrect entries were erased when he modified his style sheets. In a future post I'll describe how to back up and migrate your customized list of automatic Word corrections.