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What is autocorrect?

Autocorrect is a word processing feature that identifies misspelled words, and uses algorithms to identify the words most likely to have been intended, and edits the text accordingly.

What software includes autocorrect features?

Apple, Google and Microsoft products all have their own versions of autocorrect programs. Texting features on smartphones are also typically equipped with autocorrect and predictive text to aid users, for example.

Some programs, like those used for coding, will not autocorrect words unless specifically told to do so by the user. This is because code is often very specific and even a small change can cause major errors.

access iPhone predictive text, auto correct and spell check features.
Go to Settings, then General, then Keyboard to access autocorrect as well as predictive text, smart punctuation and spell check, among other features to customize the iPhone keyboard.

How does autocorrect work?

When a word is typed that is not in the dictionary, software will typically underline it in red. The user can then right-click on the misspelled word and select the correct spelling from a list of suggestions. The software will then remember this correction for future use.

What are some benefits of using autocorrect?

Autocorrect can save users time by quickly fixing common misspellings. It can also improve communication by catching errors that could change the meaning of what someone is trying to say.

Are there any drawbacks to using autocorrect?

Autocorrect features work very well with common and straight-forward typos, such as "teh" for "the." However, their algorithms are far from infallible, particularly autocorrect programs on smartphones.

These programs often suggest words that are completely unrelated to the ones that were typed. For example, if a user types, "I am going to thd store," the phone's autocorrect feature might change it to read, "I am going to the doors."

How can I disable autocorrect?

When running into these issues, there are a few ways to disable or adjust autocorrect features:

  • On iOS devices, users can go to Settings and then General before selecting Keyboard. From there, they can slide the Autocorrection toggle to the Off.
  • For Android phones, the process is similar. Go to Settings, select Language & Input, and then find the Auto Correct option and switch it off.

Some phones and computers also allow users to add their own words to the dictionary that autocorrect will use to avoid suggestions that are completely unrelated to what was intended.

See also: natural language processing, system software, text editor, productivity software, speech recognition, font

This was last updated in November 2022

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