Quick tips are random posts regarding something I discovered on my way to something bigger. They usually get longer than “quick” would imply, for which I refuse to apologize.

This tip from Macworld is a fun one for writers. It’s about how you can manually trigger the autocorrect popup in Cocoa text fields by hitting space after a misspelled word and then moving the caret backward to the edge of the word. After a very short delay, the suggestion popover (only in the most recent versions of OS X) will appear and you can use arrow keys and enter to choose one. Dismiss it with escape. It avoids the entire process of right clicking and choosing a correction from the contextual menu.

The problem for me is that this requires that “Automatically Correct Spelling” be enabled. I dislike that feature when I’m doing any serious writing. I do like having the red underlines on misspelled words, so I keep “Check Spelling While Typing” turned on, which is the other prerequisite for this trick.

It would be handiest to be able to see the red lines and decide whether I want to correct it now or wait until a point where I can come back and do a batch all at once. If I do it in batch, I’m probably going to use the spelling panel, but being able to keyboard through the document and fix things has its benefits.

So, then, how to make it work in my case? Just add a keyboard shortcut for “Correct Spelling Automatically”. Open System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts -> Application Shortcuts and add a new one for All Applications. Set the menu title to “Correct Spelling Automatically” and then add a keyboard shortcut. I’m using ^⌘S, but whatever works and won’t get in the way.

Now I can quickly toggle it on to correct a few words manually, and off when I start typing again. Manual autocorrection.