iOS 12.1 Misspelled Words

Featured Image: 
Screenshot of Mail message with the virtual rotor on Misspelled Words: text has misspelled word that has red underline.

Misspelled words is an iOS feature that alerts users to - you guessed it - misspelled words! A word that is misspelled will visually have a dotted red line underneath. How do VoiceOver users know if words are misspelled? The ability to identify misspelled words when running VoiceOver has changed and evolved over the years.  At one time, there was an earcon (sound) associated with a misspelled word. Currently, Misspelled Words is a rotor option that may appear when you are in an editable text field. (An editable text field is when you are able to type - visually there is a blinding cursor in the text field and on the braille display.) To check for a misspelled word, set the rotor to Misspelled Words, then flick down to move from one misspelled to the next. In iOS 12.1, the Misspelled Words rotor option only appears in textfields in apps such as Mail and in Safari. The rotor option for Misspelled Words does not appear in apps such as Notes, Pages, and Word. For students, not being able to quickly locate misspelled words when writing a document is a critical issue; especially when their sighted peers do have this option.

Options in Settings

There are several spelling-related options in Settings, including Auto-Capitalization, Auto-Correction, Check Spelling, and Predictive. For young writers, my personal opinions are:

  • Auto-Capitalization Off: Students need to learn and practice capitalization rules
  • Auto-Correction Off: Students need to learn how to spell - and how to type! (We all have embarrassing stories about auto-corrected words!)
  • Check Spelling On: This has to be on in order for the misspelled words rotor option to appear in apps such as Mail and Safari.
  • Predictive Off: Typically, students need to learn to spell and type correctly. Predictive can be very confusing for many students who are using VoiceOver. There are exceptions to this, such as students who physically struggle with typing and students who truly struggle with spelling.

To access these options, go to Settings > General > Keyboards > select your desired options.

For detailed information on how to use the rotor option for Misspelled Word (in the Mail app), listen to the AppleVis Misspelled Words podcast here. A braille display is used in this podcast.


Our students who use VoiceOver need to be able to quickly identify misspelled words when writing and editing documents for school. The Misspelled Words rotor option is a wonderful tool and should be incorporated into Pages, Notes, and other word documents on the iPad. Educators/family members, please take a minute to advocate for this feature by emailing Apple Accessibility  and requesting this feature - be sure to mention that you are an educator/family member and how critical this is for your student/child. Also, encourage your student/child to send an email too - be sure to mention what grade he/she is in and how this feature would beneficial. It only takes a sentence or two - and as a community, our voices will be heard!

Collage of misspelled words


Posted by John FarinaDec 13, 2018

Hi Dianne and all, Below is the contents of a message I have sent to the accessibility team at apple concerning implementation of this feature in apps such as word, pages and notes. Hope it helps. To whom it may concern: The recent update to iOS introduced the ability to find and correct misspelled words within applications such as Mail and Messages. This is a very good feature especially for this who are blind/visually impaired in order that they be able to easily correct mistakes in spelling. As an assistive technology instructor for persons who are blind/visually impaired, I teach students regularly to correct their writing mistakes as a part of learning how to edit using assistive technologies such as VoiceOver. I would suggest that implementing this feature so it is available across the variety of apps where edit fields are used would go far to increase the capability of students and adults who are blind/visually impaired to better correct their writing mistakes. Having this capability in such apps as the native iOs pages app, and Microsoft Word as well as notes would go far to enhance productivity. I was recently asked by one of the students I know if there is a way to correct spelling errors within the Microsoft Word app for iOs as they can with a computer. Unfortunately I am going to have to relay to the individual at this time that there is not this ability. Thanks for giving this option a place in the IOS app, I look forward to seeing it widened to include the apps mentioned above as soon as it can be done. Sincerely, John Farina Assistive Technology Specialist

Posted by Diane BraunerDec 13, 2018

Thank you, John, for advocating for all of us and for sharing your this email with us. As a community of practice, together we can accomplish so much more! You clearly defined the need for having the misspelled word feature in the apps that our students use daily!