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I type about equally in both my native language and English. Spellchecking is less important when using my native language but it would still be nice to have it - or at least to deactivate English spellchecking.

Is there an system wide plugin or at least any browser specific extension that would be smart enough to figure out in which language I'm typing and automatically switch to the according dictionary?

I'm using Google Chrome on OS X Snow Leopard.

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You could look into something that allows you to spellcheck both languages at once. You will miss a few terms depending on the similarities between the languages, but it's IMO much more likely you'll find something like that. Apple Pages implements something similar: its "all supported languages" spell-checker. –  Daniel Beck Dec 27 '11 at 21:39

2 Answers 2

Mac supports language detection for spellcheck natively in the OS, at least as of 10.7.5 (Lion). This means any application running on mac that makes use of this service/library/API automatically has this feature. You can set spell checking in the Text pane of the Language & Text setting in the Personal line in the System Preferences App

Menu -> [Apple] -> System Preference -> Language & Text (Personal) -> Text

The Spelling entry here can be set to a specific language, but it can also be set to Automatic by Language. That may be the default. You will have to close and reopen an application before changes to this preference takes affect.

Note, however, that the algorithm used to decide the language may not be sophisticated enough. For example, I was writing up some notes (on R) and found that the line

par() - specify graphical elements

is treated as not English. From my "English is the only thing I ever use" perspective, the OS, for some crazy reason, just started using the wrong spelling dictionary, but just for this line! I don't know if this language misidentification counts as a bug, but it was very surprising and annoying until I discovered the auto-detection feature of the spelling checker and the rationale behind the strange appearance of the squiggly red lines.

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The only app I know of that handles multilingual spell-checking is Microsoft Word. It is able to switch automatically between languages by paragraph. I don't know about Office for Mac. You might want to use it for writing and then copy the text where you need it.

This blog handles multilingual issues on Mac: http://m10lmac.blogspot.com/2011/06/extra-spell-checking-dictionaries-for.html - You might find something of interest there. Look in the comments - one guy seems to have the same problem you have.

I found this website that claims to offer web-based spell checking - aptly named Spell Checker. The site seems to be abandoned because there is advertisement on it and no pricing information. And the most recent version are quite dated, too: Windows 2003 is listed as the latest OS.

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The OP is using OS X (Mac) and Chrome. Office and Spell Checker are not really relevant. –  Matteo Feb 22 '13 at 16:25
    
@matteo As I've pointed out, Word can be used for creating and spell checking text, then copying the text elsewhere, e.g. Chrome. There is a version of Microsoft Office for Mac. And spell checking is in the title of the question. What is not relevant? –  user 99572 is fine Feb 22 '13 at 22:41

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