Early in my career as a journalist I learned an important lesson about computers and writing. I'd just gotten back to the office from an interview when my editor confronted me about a story strewn with seemingly misplaced words.

It'd been a long week, but not that long, but sure enough it was as if someone had gone into my story and changed the words at random.

It was only when I reviewed the story that I realized that autocorrect was to blame. Ever since, autocorrect is the first thing I turn off on any new computer.

Autocorrect is well intentioned, I get it. I’m sure it’s great if you’re just writing up a quick email, but for a writer, it’s nothing but trouble.

Think about it. If you are writing quickly and you misspell something, there’s a good chance that auto-correct will kick in and attempt to fix it for you. That’s great when it works, but when it doesn’t, the mistake can easily go unnoticed since autocorrect looks at the letters you typed and tries to figure out what you were trying to say.

And honestly, on anything with a full-sized keyboard, I’d argue that autocorrect isn’t all that useful anyway.

Best case scenario, it’ll correct a spelling error that spell check would have caught anyway, and in the worst case scenario, it could cost you your job or your reputation depending on how bad the correction was.

Autocorrect: Great for preventing nuclear  armageddon, nothing but trouble for writers.
Autocorrect: Great for preventing nuclear armageddon, nothing but trouble for writers. Credit: xkcd

Or in the rare instance, autocorrect will stave off the nuclear apocolypse for another day. But how often does that really happen? If you know, please keep it to yourself, I do like to sleep at night.

That’s why I recommend anyone who spends any appreciable amount of time behind a keyboard disable this feature before you join the hordes of writers crying “damn you autocorrect!” Which is a great coffee table book by the way.

The moral of this story: spell check is your friend, auto-correct is not.

Disable autocorrect

The good news is disabling autocorrect isn’t difficult and takes less than a minute.

Mac Users

Disabling autocorrect on the Mac is easy. Simply head over to System Preferences > Keyboard > Text and untick "Correct spelling automatically," "Capitalize words automatically," and "Add period with double space." It's that simple.

Windows Users:

Disabling autocorrect is just as easy on Windows. Head over to Settings > Devices > Typing (sidebar) and untick "Autocorrect misspelled words," "Show text suggestions as I type on the software keyboard (optional)," and "Add period after I double tap the spacebar." That's it.

What about my phone?

My phone is about the only place I actually use autocorrect. Everywhere else, it's the first thing I turn off. Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

About the only place I leave autocorrect on is arguably where it's most useful, my phone. Here, autocorrect is like a life preserver for my fat fingers.

Everywhere else, including my iPad, it's the first thing I turn off.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

  • What's your worst autocorrect story?
  • Do you prefer autocorrect on or off?
  • What's the firs thing you do on any new computer?
  • Have a writing tip? Let's hear it.

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Image Via: Photo by Pereanu Sebastian on Unsplash