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

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

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.


  1. Your suggestion and workaround was right on! It worked for me perfectly (and that’s coming from someone who is not a techy)! My configuration was just like Mariangel below… Outlook 2013 and Word 2010. Thanks again!

  2. hi, i have office 2010 & outlook 2013. i don’t have or can’t find an office 12 file, but i do have an office 14 & office 15 files. i copied the winword.exe file from 14 to 15 and restarted outlook but this didn’t work. any suggestions?


  3. Brilliant solution. Using that methodology, I managed to access the options on a machine running Outlook 2007 and Word 2003 – so that it works with mixed install. Bravo – because other sites suggest installing a ‘compatible’ version of Word. No need!

    • 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!

  4. 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?

    • 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.

  5. I have MS Outlook — a stand-alone copy, but no longer have any otherMS Office products like Word, Excel, etc. (This was due to my hard drive being wiped clean, so I lost my copies of MS Office.

    SO …. with running ONLY MS Outlook, how can I fix the auto-correct options being grayed-out?

    • All you need is a version of WinWord.exe file in Outlook folder…so maybe copy one from another computer? Obviously, it violates the user agreement with Microsoft.

      Another option is to use a plugin like Grammarly.

  6. Works !!! thanks so much! my WINWORD.exe was in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12. do the SEARCH is the way to go!

  7. Same issue. Word 2016 and Outlook 2010. I copied the Winword.exe file from my Office16 folder and pasted in all other Office folders, restarted Outlook, and problem was solved. THANKS FOR THE HELP!

  8. I do not have multiple versions of office so maybe someone else could try this: instead of copying the winword.exe file to the other directory, put a shortcut there and make sure it’s named winword.exe (nothing with “shortcut to”.

  9. still works in 2020 but you need to use the search option in windows explorer at a fairly high level in program files (x86) and look for winword.exe


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