Why Outlook Spelling Check and AutoCorrect Options are Greyed Out and How To Fix It?

My Outlook 2010’s Spelling Check Options (called Proofing in Outlook 2010), as well as AutoCorrect Options were all greyed out, so I don’t get the usual correct as you type feature as I usually get on my other computers. Only the basic ones, like Always checks spelling before sending, are still available. What’s going on?

Outlook Spelling Check options

Turned out, that’s because I have a mixed Microsoft Office versions installed, running Outlook 2010 alone while Word is still on 2007. The features like Spelling Check and AutoCorrect in Outlook are integrated tightly with the same version of Word. So when Outlook couldn’t find a working copy of Word application, it greys out these features.

Each version of Office is installed in a number-based sub-directory under the main Microsoft Office folder. For example, my Office 2007 is installed in Office12 folder while my Outlook 2010 is installed in Office14 folder, both under Microsoft Office folder. When my Outlook 2010 launches, it looks for the Word executable file WinWord.exe in the same directory. If nothing found, it then disables all Word-depended features like Spelling Check.

So, based on this observation, the workaround to get around this issue was easy:

Copy the WINWORD.exe file from Office12 folder to Office14 folder, and restart Outlook.

The result? All previously greyed out Spelling Check and AutoCorrect Options features became available again.

Outlook Spelling Check options - Available

A few final words

The workaround works well in a mixed installation of Office 2007 and Outlook 2010 but I haven’t tested in other combinations. It most likely will still work if the versions are not set too apart. Let us know what works for you.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 10/28/2014

Posted in: Tips & Tricks
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Phil
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Phil
2 years 9 months ago

I have Outlook 2013 and Word 2010. I copied as described but can’t get mine to work. I restarted computer as well. Any ideas?

Merle
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Merle
2 years 8 months ago

I also have Outlook 2013 and Word 2010. It took me a while to find the right folder to put the winword.exe file because I had multiple folders labeled Office 15. Here’s the one that worked:
Program Files > Microsoft Office 15 > root > office15 because this is the one where outlook.exe was located. Hope that helps you!

Phil
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Phil
2 years 8 months ago

That worked! I had it in Program Files > Microsoft Office 15. Didn’t know about the subdirectories.

xpanmanx
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xpanmanx
2 years 8 months ago

Worked great for me with Office 2013 (less Outlook) and Outlook 2010 (less everything else).

N.7.1.G
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N.7.1.G
2 years 4 months ago

This worked on some of my client machines, but one of my clients does not have the WINWORD.exe in her Office12 folder. Rather, she has only the WINWORD application file itself. This is also the case in the Office 2014 folder. However, spell check is still unavailable in Outlook 2013. Help?

Kent Chen
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2 years 4 months ago

Maybe it’s the 64-bit version of office that is installed in “program files” folder?

if not, i would check if Word application is installed properly first.

Stretchr
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Stretchr
2 years 3 months ago

Worked like a charm. Thank you!

Kent
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Kent
17 days 7 hours ago

This fix also works when running Outlook 2013 and Office/Word 2016. Good find!

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