Master the language features of Pages on the Mac

Pages is Apple’s word processor and is part of the iWork suite of office applications. It is a useful tool with some good features, but at times it can be irritating in the way that it handles spelling and languages. You need to know where the settings are to remove these irritations and make your work more productive.

Here are some common problems you will encounter when using Pages on the Apple Mac to write a document: You type a word that it doesn’t recognise, such as a technical term, and Pages automatically changes it to another word, one that is in its dictionary, as soon as you press the spacebar to enter the next word.

The auto-correct suggestion is displayed below the word as you type, but no matter what you do, Pages insists on changing the word you are typing, even when you know it is correct. You go back and change the word to what you want, but Pages changes it again, and again. Actually, if you repeatedly correct Pages’ auto-correct, after three or four times it gets the message and accepts your word. It is a major frustration.

Spell checking in Pages

Another issue is with the language. Although English is widely used around the world, the words in the language are not all the same. There are differences in spelling and in the US they say ‘color’ while in the UK they say ‘colour’, US residents have neighbors, but UK ‘residents’ have ‘neighbours’, and the list goes on.

Pages has a built in spelling checker and spelling auto-correct, but is it using the right spelling? There are occasions where you might want to write in US or UK English, Canadian English, or some other variation of English. By switching the language used by a Pages document you can spell check and auto-correct in whichever version of English you want. It is useful to know how to switch.

Turn off auto-correct

The features you need are all on the Edit menu and to stop Pages automatically changing technical terms and other words that are not in its dictionary (it only has common words), go to Edit, Spelling and Grammar, and clear the tick against Correct Spelling Automatically.

Pages can still check the spelling and highlight mistyped words by ticking Check Spelling While Typing. It is also useful to tick Check Grammar While Typing too.

Any spelling errors have a red dotted line underneath and are easy to spot. Right click any highlighted word and spelling corrections from the dictionary are listed. There is also an option to learn the word or to ignore it. The learn option is useful if it is a technical term that you know is right and the word is added to the dictionary so if you type it again and misspell it, Pages can suggest the correct word.

Set the document language

The language for a document is automatically set to whatever OS X is set to in System Preferences. To change it to another language, go to the Edit menu and select Spelling and Grammar, Show Spelling and Grammar.

Spelling and grammar in Pages

There is a language list at the bottom of the pop-up window. Select the language and the document is updated instantly - type ‘colour’ and ‘color’ and switch back and forth between US and British English in the menu to see the red underline switch from one word to the other.

 

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