Spell Checking in the next 1000 languages

Simple spell checks for use by Firefox and Thunderbird are easily available in about 100 languages (see https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/language-tools/ )

These are not highly intelligent spell checks they merely highlight whether a word is in a wordlist or not.

They would also be fairly easy to create in another 1000 languages or so for which there exist reasonable wordlists.

  • Creating a spell check is fairly easy.
  • Installing a spell check is fairly easy.
  • Making a spell check available to others is fairly easy.
  • This is of little value
    …unless you also tell people you have created a spell check,
    ensure they know where to access it and install it,
    and encourage them to tell others.

But let’s start with…

Creating a spell check

A Firefox add-on is a ZIP file renamed to use a ‘.xpi’ file extension. To create a dictionary add-on, simply create a ZIP file which contains the following files and folders:


  • install.rdf
  • dictionaries/
    • locale-code.dic
    • locale-code.aff

So to create a spell check that can be used in the firefox browser you simply need.

  • A list of words saved saved as a text file and renamed with a .dic extension.
  • A bit of code (also editable in Notepad) and saved with an .aff file extenstion.
  • A Zip program renamed with an .xpi file extension instead of the normal .zip

More details at :


I didn’t find it quite so simple as the zip file I created claimed to be corrupt when I tried to install my test dictionary. I used the free program from www.7zip.org

Instead of creating the zip file I opened an existing one and copied updated files into it and this worked without any problems.


Installing a spell check

Opening the .xpi in Firefox will start a dialogue to install the spell check

In Thunderbird go to Add ons > Extensions and then select the drop down tools next to the search bar and select “Install Add-on from file”


Using the Spell Check

The Firefox spell checker is enabled on any text box that allows for more than one line of text.

  • Words are underlined if not found in the word list.
  • Right clicking on the word offers alternatives.
  • Right clicking also opens a menu that allows you to switch to a different
    installed dictionaries.


Making a spell check available to others

Submit to Mozilla and/or make downloadable from any website or share by email etc


Tell people about it!

Making the spell check available to download is not the same as telling people it is available. Some will find and share it but for maximum effect tell people via facebook, press release, word of mouth etc. Eg encourage people to include a link to the spell check on documents they produce using it.


So far I’ve made one spell check using this method and passed it on to someone I know. When I build more I’ll be sure to tell you.


3 thoughts on “Spell Checking in the next 1000 languages

  1. This sounds promising, but in our area, neither Firefox nor Thunderbird have much traction among the Dene Languages user base. Would a similar dictionary file creation routine be available for the ubiquitous MSIE or Chrome Browser? What about MS Outlook 2012 or 365?


  2. Pingback: Spell Check for Dene Languages | Unicode Dene Keyboards

  3. Within Chrome you can add any of the supported dictionaries at chrome://settings/addLanguage and can add lists of words to your own personal custom dictionary. I’ll add more on this in the post if there is interest.


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