(Solved) Spell Checking in Outlook Express

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Thread Starter
Aug 14, 2002

I'm using XP pro, and the spell checker doesn't work. I suspect this feature needs using Word dictionaries.

Am I right?

I have Office 97 installed. Are there known incompatibilities between XP pro and Office 97?

Win XP came with a trial copy of Office XP I didn't install. Would it be possible to use the dictionaries that came with it?

Apr 11, 2004
This is the fix from their web site.
How To: Fix spell checking in Outlook Express 6

If you are running Windows XP, you may find that spell checking does not work, and cannot be enabled in Outlook Express 6. When you try to spellcheck a message, you may receive the message "an error occurred whilst the spelling was being checked"

It's important to note that Outlook Express does not have a spell checker. However, it can make use of the spell checker in Microsoft Office 95 or later, or Microsoft Works (later versions, which include Microsoft Word) if present.

If you have a suitable Microsoft application installed on your computer but spell checking does not work, the most common cause of this problem is a missing file which Outlook Express requires in order to make use of the Office spellchecker.


To solve this problem, you need to obtain a copy of the missing file csapi3t1.dll and place it in the folder "Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof". After have done this, you may need to restart Windows. You should also verify that "Always check spelling" is enabled in Tools, Options, Spelling.

The missing csapi3t1.dll file is included with Windows XP, it simply isn't installed by default. You can install it from the i386 folder on your Windows XP CD. (If you don't have a Windows XP CD, your computer manufacturer should have created an i386 folder somewhere on your hard disk.)

To use the version provided with Windows XP, click on Start, Run, then type:

expand d:\i386\csapi3t1.dl_ c:\csapi3t1.dll

and click OK (if necessary, replace "d:\i386" with the true path of your i386 folder.) A command window should flash up on your screen and then vanish. Now look for the file in the C:\ root folder using Windows Explorer, and move it to Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Proof using drag and drop. If you use this method, be sure to get the filename correct (the end of the filename is number three, letter T, number one.)

If you can't find an i386 folder, you might find a copy of csapi3t1.dll somewhere on your Microsoft Office CD. Copies may also be extracted from the file mailnews.cab in an Internet Explorer 5.0 or 5.5 distribution set, the file win98_27.cab on a Windows 98 CD, or the file Win_10.cab on a Windows Me CD. Alternatively, you can download a copy of the file by clicking on this link.

If this doesn't help, try copying it to the Outlook Express folder instead. Some readers have reported that this works when all else has failed.

Further things to try

We sometimes receive reports from people who have followed the above steps and still can't get spell checking to work. If that is the case, here are some other things to try:

Locate the files ctapi3t2.dll and chapi3t1.dll in a folder named Proof on your Microsoft Office CD and copy them to the ...Shared\Proof folder.
If you are using Microsoft Office 97 and the language is English, locate the files mssp232.dll and mssp2_en.lex in a folder named Proof on your Microsoft Office CD and copy them to the …\Shared\Proof folder. If you are using a different version of Office or Works, locate the Proof folder on the CD and copy the files with names beginning "mssp..." to the ...Shared\Proof folder. Note that the .lex files are dictionaries, and some of them will be for languages that you aren't using.
Open Control Panel, Regional Settings. Check under Regional Options that the language selected is the same as that used by Microsoft Office, i.e. English (United States) or English (United Kingdom).
Open Outlook Express, Tools, Options, Spelling tab and check that the language selected there is the same as selected above. (One reader from an English-speaking region outside the US found selecting English (United States) solved the problem.)
Using the Registry Editor, expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, SOFTWARE, Microsoft, Shared Tools and check that the value SharedFilesDir contains "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\" or whatever is the parent of your Proof folder. The full long filename and the backslash at the end of the path are both important. You can download and double-click the file oeproof.reg to fix this, but only use this .reg file if your Proof folder is in C:\Program Files, not some other location.
If all of the above are correct, and spell checking still doesn't work, try uninstalling and then reinstalling Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works.
If spell checking still doesn't work for Outlook Express after you've done all this, then unfortunately we are out of ideas. If you should discover any other reasons for this problem, please let us know so that we can add the information to this page.
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