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".

Method 1

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 in an Internet Explorer 5.0 or 5.5 distribution set, the file on a Windows 98 CD, or the file on a Windows Me CD.

Method 2

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:

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:

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