Here’s a quick poll: When composing something on your computer, do you use your word processor’s spell checker, or do you just keep the web up in the background, and use search to check the proper spelling of a word?
I realized today, as I was working on a presentation offline (I was on a plane), that I hadn’t used Microsoft Word’s spell checker for more than a year. I don’t trust it nearly as much as I trust the collective intelligence of search. The Word spell checker is a top down approach to spelling, and search is a bottoms up. Even when Word tells me, via a red underlining, that I’ve spelled a word wrong, I’ll cut and paste that misspelled word into the Google toolbar, rather than ask Word’s spellchecker for a reference. That alone I bet means a significant portion of searches lost by Microsoft to Google. I know Microsoft is working on integrating Live search into its Office applications, but since I’m offline at the moment I can’t check that. No matter what, the UI has to be easier than highlight, cut, paste, return, which is what I do now. I’ve always got the search bar in the background close to whatever work I’m doing. It’s just not Microsoft’s toolbar.
In short, Google is stealing my spelling searches from Microsoft Word (and Powerpoint as well). Interesting. Never thought of it that way before. Though of course it’s consistent with the idea of work that used to be confined to apps and single machines migrating to the cloud.
So, how do you spellcheck?