How To: Fix spell checking in Outlook Express 6
Applies to: Microsoft Windows XP
Spell checking does not work and cannot be enabled in Outlook Express 6. When you try to spellcheck a message, you may receive the message "An error occurred while the spelling was being checked."
Outlook Express does not have a spell checker. It can make use of the spell checker in Microsoft Office 95 or later, or Microsoft Works (later versions, which include Microsoft Word) if present. However, a system file csapi3t1.dll that is required in order to make use of the spell checker is not installed by Windows XP.
Tip: You may be able to see whether or not csapi3t1.dll is being used by Outlook Express by clicking on Help, About.
Obtain a copy of the missing file csapi3t1.dll and place it in the folder "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof".
Click Start, Run, type msconfig and hit Enter. When the System Configuration Utility starts, click the button captioned Expand File.... In the Expand One File from Installation Source dialog box type the name of the file you want to restore (e.g. csapi3t1.dll), select the location to restore from (this will either be your Windows XP CD or a folder named i386 on your hard disk) and enter the name of the folder where the restored file should go (C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof). Then click Expand.
After have done this, you may need to restart Windows. You should also verify that "Always check spelling" is enabled in Tools, Options, Spelling.
If you can't find an i386 folder, you might have a copy of csapi3t1.dll somewhere on your Microsoft Office CD. Copies may also be extracted from the file mailnews.cab in an Internet Explorer 5.0 or 5.5 distribution set, the file win98_27.cab on a Windows 98 CD, or the file Win_10.cab on a Windows Me CD.
Download a copy of the file by clicking on this link. Just run the downloaded file to install it into its usual location.
Further things to try
We sometimes receive reports from people who have followed the above steps and still can't get spell checking to work. If that is the case, here are some other things to try:
- Try copying csapi3t1.dll to the Outlook Express folder instead. Some readers have reported that this works when all else has failed.
- Locate the files ctapi3t2.dll and chapi3t1.dll in a folder named Proof on your Microsoft Office CD and copy them to the ...Shared\Proof folder.
- If you are using Microsoft Office 97 and the language is English, locate the files mssp232.dll and mssp2_en.lex in a folder named Proof on your Microsoft Office CD and copy them to the …\Shared\Proof folder. If you are using a different version of Office or Works, locate the Proof folder on the CD and copy the files with names beginning "mssp..." to the ...Shared\Proof folder. Note that the .lex files are dictionaries, and some of them will be for languages that you aren't using.
- Open Control Panel, Regional Settings. Check under Regional Options that the language selected is the same as that used by Microsoft Office, i.e. English (United States) or English (United Kingdom).
- Open Outlook Express, Tools, Options, Spelling tab and check that the language selected there is the same as selected above. (One reader from an English-speaking region outside the US found selecting English (United States) solved the problem.)
- Using the Registry Editor, expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, SOFTWARE, Microsoft, Shared Tools and check that the value SharedFilesDir contains "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\" or whatever is the parent of your Proof folder. The full long filename and the backslash at the end of the path are both important. You can download a file oeproof.reg (right-click the link and select Save Target As...) and then double-click it to do this automatically, but only use this .reg file ONLY if your Proof folder is in C:\Program Files, not some other location.
- If all of the above are correct, and spell checking still doesn't work, try uninstalling and then reinstalling Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works.
If spell checking still doesn't work for Outlook Express after you've done all this, then unfortunately we are out of ideas. If you should discover any other reasons for this problem, please let us know so that we can add the information to this page.
If you don't have Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works
The steps described above will only enable spell checking in Outlook Express if you have a recent version of Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works. Outlook Express cannot use the spell checkers in other companies' Office packages. If you don't have Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works and you would still like to be able to spellcheck your Outlook Express messages then you will need to do one of the following:
- Use a spell checker made specifically for Outlook Express, such as isota ABCSpell for Outlook Express.