Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Howto: Enable spellchecking on all Firefox 2.0 betas

Please note: this guide applies to the beta of Firefox 2.0. The final version has a much more simplified routine – simply right-click on a text field, and select to add a dictionary.

One of the good things about Firefox 2.0 is that it includes inline spellchecking for web forms, which means that bloggers and webmail users can now experience the red underlines that word processing and email clients already offer.

Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, some of the localised releases of Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 do not have dictionaries and the spell-checking feature is therefore disabled. There’s also no notification to the user of this fact, and no guidance as to how to install dictionaries so as to enable the feature. Which is why I’ve written this entry 🙂 .

Though this guide will probably still work under the final release of Firefox 2, I’d imagine that there will be an easier way of doing this. But this’ll do for now.

First of all, download Firefox and install it. Run the web browser and right-click in a textbox – if you see ‘Spell check this field’ on the menu then you should already have spell-checking – use the ‘Languages’ submenu to select the dictionary you want.

If the menu isn’t there, or the language you want isn’t listed (you can install more languages if you want to) then you need to go to Dictionaries for Mozilla. Find the dictionary you want, then right-click it (control-click on a Mac) and choose ‘Save Target As’. You’ll now need to open it with a zip utility, such as Winzip or the free 7-Zip. There will be at least three files in it, one called install.js and a .aff and a .dic file which correspond to the dictionary you selected (so ‘en-GB’ for the British English dictionary). Extract the .aff and .dic files to the ‘dictionaries’ subfolder of your Firefox folder – so if you installed Firefox to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 2.0 Beta 1\ , put the dictionary files in C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 2.0 Beta 1\dictionaries\ .

Restart Firefox and then you should be able to select the relevant dictionary for use in spell-checking. You can repeat this several times over for different languages – if you are French but often write in English too then you can install both the French and English spelling dictionaries.

Thanks to Mark Tyndall for the pointers that lead me to write this 🙂 .


  1. Hi, I recently cam across your blog while doing a google search. And as a result took the time to install firefox 2b. However I was wondering if you knew of any decent themes for firefox2.0b which have favicon support but still show the tab closing icon on each tab.
    The default theme installed for the beta on the mac doesn’t show favicons but I really like the individual close button.
    If you do know of any I would really appreciate it. BTW i am Already using the nightly build tool to use my plug ins.

  2. Very useful. Thanks Neil.

  3. Thanks, this was very useful indeed 🙂

  4. Very useful, thanks. It is a pity that Firefox does not redirect to, but to, when you click “add dictionary”.

  5. How appaling that, while US_English is available by defult to people using that lanuage setting, the rest of us aren’t even told that we need to do a manual install, let alone how to.