never fails. At least once during every Internet class someone sneaks up
on me during the break and confesses that they can't spell. "Please, please,
please," they beg, "is there some way I can use a spell checker with my
e-mail so I won't humiliate myself in front of 40 million people?"
I waffle. You could buy an e-mail program such as Eudora Pro, which includes an integrated spell checker. For important messages, you could compose your letter in your usual word processor, spell-check it there and then cut and paste it into e-mail. Frankly, both options stink.
I recently found a solution, an elegant little utility called AutoSpell.
AutoSpell can work with America Online, CompuServe, Eudora, Microsoft Exchange, Netscape 2.x and 3.x, WordPad and NotePad. The installation was a no-brainer.
Once installed, the program gives you a new set of icons for all of your e-mail applications. The new icons look just like the old ones except for the big red checkmarks superimposed on them. When I start up Netscape Navigator, for example, I use the special icon and the spell checker is seamlessly integrated into the e-mail application. When I shut down Netscape the spell checker also shuts down so my memory isn't being hogged.
The program comes with its own dictionary, or you can elect to use the dictionary that you currently use with your MS Word or MS Works word processor. I chose this option, and all of the words I have added to my dictionary over the years were available to my e-mail spell checker. French, German, Italian and British English dictionaries are available for free.
I tested AutoSpell with Netscape Navigator 3.0 Gold, AOL, Notepad, Wordpad and Eudora and it worked just as advertised with all of them. When I clicked on my send button the spellchecker automatically kicked in and caught all of my embarrassing little mistakes. This is the best feature of the program: I don't have to remember to spell check. It automatically invokes the spell checker when I click on send. People like me who can't remember how to spell receive can't remember to use the spell checker, either!
The program is shareware. The 1.3 MB download is a fully-functional 25 day trial, after which everything but the Notepad spellchecker disintegrates. After that you pay, but not a lot. The price structure is complicated, as there are different versions for 16-bit (Windows 3.1) and 32 bit (Win 95) applications; they can be bought separately or bundled, and there are several specials offers in effect. I got silly and bought the whole shebang, every e-mail client under both operating systems, for $34.95, marked down from $69.95. The 16 or 32 bit bundle is currently going for $24.95. The single application for Netscape, Microsoft Exchange, Eudora or Wordpad are selling for $9.95 each.
You can download AutoSpell directly from their World Wide Web site, http://www.pygmy.com/autospell. When you're ready to register, they will take checks or credit cards via snail mail, fax, e-mail or a secure order form on the web site.