New spell check highlight--how to disable

Brass Contributor

I've noticed a new red highlight (not the red squiggly underline) connected to spell check in Word. It only appears when you mouse over a word that has been flagged by spell check. When you click on it, you get a pop up of suggested "did you mean?" words. Screenshot below.


I would like to turn this red highlight off WITHOUT turning off spell check, the red squiggly underline, or the ability to right click and get a list of spelling suggestions. The highlight is incredibly annoying and gets in the way of other functionality (like clicking though a hyperlink).

I found one post about this on another forum (here:, which suggested un-checking "Automatically use suggestions from the spell checker." I have un-checked this and restarted Word, but it makes no difference. 


What can I do to get rid of this thing?


In case it is relevant I am using Word 16:50 on Mac OS Catalina 10:15:7.


Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 1.59.59 PM.png

39 Replies
@dharmachic Thanks for posting! I don't think this will work for me, though, since I am running Word on a Mac using OS Catalina 10:15:7.
You may be right about that this new "smart" feature in a long line of infuriating updates has been developed with users on tablets with touchscreens and without physical keyboards in mind. As precisely one of those users with a Windows tablet who regularly likes to work with the keyboard off, let me add my voice to those of the dissatisfied. I for one certainly do not appreciate yet another stupid pop-up jumping in my face and getting in the way of things (for the already mentioned reasons: takes time to load, gets in the way of functionality and obscures following lines, is completely redundant if I get the same thing in the context menu with a simple right-click). Curiously, despite this ingeniuity specifically implemented to supposedly help the likes of me, the exact opposite is the case. I can't simply dismiss the pop-up with a keyboard shortcut (yet another one I have to memorize), since I have no keyboard. Instead, it forces yet another step upon me, since tapping on underlined text now summons the **bleep** pop-up, which I need to first dismiss with another tap elsewhere. After this, automatically the entire word is now selected, so I need another tap to de-select (Which was annoying enough before MS added the pop-up). Then the cursor lands either at the start of the word or the end, not where I actually tap - no, I now have to tap and drag the cursor by its stupid touchscreen handle to where I want to edit. And all of this, because someone arrogantly thinks I can't be expected to do a long-press for a right-click, apparently. MS Office, which worked pretty flawlessly on Surface-like devices during the heydey of Windows 8.1 and early Win 10 has gone to utter crap.

The very least those arrogant clowns at MS could do is give us an option to disable imposed functionality if it simply does not work for certain use cases. I really don't care if the Devs are super proud of their newest concoctions; if it does not work for me, I need to be able to undo it. But that, quite obviously, is not MS's style these days (just for reference, look at the debacle with "modern comments", which has professional editors, writers, educators and possibly anyone else who actually uses the comment function to earn a living up in arms - after months of despair, they can now be "temporarilly" disabled). So yeah, people please vent your frustration, hopefully MS will finally learn that they can't simply push any nonsense without any option to toggle it off.
Because somebody mentioned that the objectionable feature relates to tablet use, I am reminded how in Windows there is an option to enable or disable tablet mode on devices with touch screens, including some laptops. Since you are on a Mac, I right away wonder whether your Mac is of the 2018-2019 model era at least, and if so, if it has one of those touch-sensitive strips below the screen and just above the keyboard, by the hinge. If so, it might be that Word is being triggered by this to be in tablet-support mode. I am working on a Mac at the moment but lack sufficient familiarity with the platform to be authoritative, but I notice that when I search on "touch" in the MacOS settings app, one of the things listed as a setting related to Touch Bar is "Touch Bar typing suggestions," which it identifies as being in the keyboard settings. You can specify there not to check spelling as you type--at the OS level--with Word still doing it for itself, and still displaying the red squiggly line. My version of Word is not current enough on the Mac to display the red highlight you describe, but since it is touch related (so the thread thinks) I speculate that disabling the keyboard setting for checking text as you type, might have some effect on this, if Word is paying attention to the touch status of the OS settings. I know this is a long shot, and I apologize I lack the specific setup to test the idea out all the way, but I thought it just might pertain. Best of luck.

@Obnoctocon thank you for the suggestion. My Macbook is, however, the old stock-standard 2014 Macbook Pro A1502, so no touch bar in sight. I'll root around in the settings but I remember distinctly that this feature showed up after a Word update, so I doubt changing OS settings will have much effect.

@NikolinoDE Dude please be quiet. 


You are clearly not reading the posts here, and keep offering the same painfully irrelevant information spell check works?


"When you create a document in Word, Word compares all the words with the dictionaries stored in Word as you write. If you use a word that is not entered there, it will be underlined as an error with a red wavy line."





Should one answer such comments? ..NO

Should such anonymous comments be given any value? ...NO


Nevertheless, I would like to try to answer you.

I can well imagine when a user has a problem that it can be very annoying, especially when it becomes a time problem in his project.

I really don't understand where your condescending communication is coming from.

My last comment on this matter was 09-20 and you send your comment on 12-1,

almost 3 months later ... are you sure ??


However, this does not give anyone the right to bully people who want to help.

Probably it has not occurred to you that one could write in this forum like for example "This suggested solution did not help me".

It may not even occur to you that in some languages some translators use a translator to support us and sometimes grammatical errors can occur.

These points are not an excuse on my part, are more intended to remove some blinkers.


A lot of people look around and above themselves without looking inside themselves beforehand.


Nevertheless I would like to apologize if I accidentally insulted you in any way (which is not my intention what and is). I like to take constructive criticism that can make me a better person…and I mean constructive criticism.


In the end I would like to invite you to ask further questions here in the forum, I will try not to react to them so as not to disturb you :).


As long as we are connected by humanity and MS Office :), it doesn't matter what separates us.



You are always welcome.

I have no solution, but I want to add my voice to those who want a way to turn this off. It's killing me. I have to tap three times to select a word. How is this helpful? Grr.

Also subscribing to the thread in the hopes that someone finds a solution.
I also wanted to voice my frustration at this feature - very inconvenient on the laptop and, as far as I can see, no way to turn it off.
Every year I get more and more disillusioned with Word - it gets bigger, harder to use and less productive. Now every time there is a word mispelt - which happens often because I'm using non-dictionary words - I have to click off it or beside it to get rid of the pop-up.
Why introduce a feature that can't be turned off? So frustrating.
Eventually these gremlins accumulate and I start to contemplate a life with out Word - it would be a big change but it just seems inevitable now.
This is driving me absolutely crazy. I can't stand all of this intrusive BS that Microsoft keeps cramming into their software. The new spell check situation is extremely clunky and annoying. I hate that the spell check options pop up when you click on a word, without being requested, and I really hate that I, the USER, don't have any way to disable this extremely unnecessary feature.
Just adding another voice to this - I too despise this highlighting nonsense. I tried a PC variation of the MacOS fix and couldn't really find anything comparable to fix it, then tried the GPedit and Registry edit, neither worked either but I didn't really expect those to work. This terrible "helpful feature" really makes writing a headache. Boo Microsoft, boo on you.



You can post feedback for Microsoft and let them know that you want a change. See


You commenting on the wrong issue several times.  Since you haven't taken the time to read and understand the issue, LawManNarwhal was simply asked you to be quite.  You should take his advice and stop annoying us. 


 or  LawManNarwhal.

I don't answer anonymous comments...don't even know what you mean.

Anyhow, thanks for your comments.

If you have problems with my comments, please contact the forum administrator.

If it is a digital topic/comment he will surely help you.

If there is another issue, I strongly recommend that you seek professional help in your area. 


If you do something good, it always helps you.


@anoneditor I see I'm replying to an 18 month old post, but we only just got Office 365 at work (a jump from Word 2013!) and this red highlight issue is driving me nuts. I'm googled out about this issue. Did you find out anything? Thanks in advance.



I have not and it still annoys the (beep) out of me


Note, this is not the place to get any changes made in Word nor the attention of developers at Microsoft. This is an independent user-to-user support forum. MS does not see anything you post here. The way to get their attention is through the feedback mechanisms.

My personal preference is to use the Word Feedback Portal. If you do, please get a share link and post it here so that others seeing this thread can go there and vote and comment.

Lol thank you, @NikolinoDE remains clueless

@ShazLea No new developments here either.  Welcome to the thread!  That highlighting is still super-frustrating but I just had to learn to deal with it.  It does still really slow down my writing though.  If I'm working on something very complex with lots of new words, I just have to turn off the spellcheck until I'm at a draft check stage.  


And yes, I reported the problem to Microsoft through proper channels back when this thread was first active.  I'm sure they don't read those comments either anyway.  

Yes I'm aware of that. My post was asking if anyone knew of any change. I have already given feedback through the proper channels.