Quick quiz: Which of the following has a spellcheck feature?
A. Microsoft Word 2013
B. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
C. Internet Explorer 11
If you said C, Internet Explorer 11, congratulations! We have a winner!
But wait, you say, in this hypothetical and rather one-sided conversation. Doesn’t Adobe Reader have spellcheck?
Well, sort of. It has a spellcheck for comments only. If you add comments to a PDF, you can spellcheck those. But the actual text itself – you know, the document, the thing you’d want to spellcheck – forget it.
Admittedly, it’s freeware, and I have it on good authority that the paid version does include spellcheck. So I guess this is forgivable.
But what about MS Word? Hold on, you protest, in this increasingly elaborate faux discussion I’ve invented. I know Word has spellcheck.
Well, sort of. What Word has is a spelling and grammar check.
Isn’t that even better? Two features in one?
It’s better if you actually want to check both spelling and grammar. But say you have a giant document with a zillion grammar “errors” (maybe due to unusual formatting or dialect) and you only care about spelling. That spellcheck-only feature is starting to look mighty tempting. Too bad it doesn’t exist. Your best alternative is to scroll through the doc and hunt for red-underlined words in the sea of blue.
Look, I think Word is an amazing application. When I ponder all the things it can do, I’m a little bit awestruck (if it’s possible to feel a little bit of awe). So I’m not complaining that they failed to develop yet another feature. It’s just, you know, they already developed the feature, and I’m not sure why they decided to duct-tape it to another one.
Anyway, that’s my rant. And if I’m wrong about either of these programs, please, please let me know. I’ll be thrilled.
Plus, then our conversation will be non-hypothetical. And won’t that be fun?
Update: Reader L. Palmer helpfully points out that Word has a feature under File, Options, Proofing, called “Check grammar with spelling.” You can uncheck this for a straight spellcheck. (Bizarrely, it still doesn’t filter 100% of the grammar errors, but seems to skip the vast majority.) Not sure how I missed this – I could’ve sworn I looked there! Thanks, L. Palmer!