Update (12/9/11): Office 2010 now has a solution here.

I was recently trying to disable spell check for use in an exam lab. I found nothing too helpful online. One thing to do is to go into word options, and disable it under proofing. However, this would be easily overcome by any student that knows about this. Something that seemed obvious to me was to add/remove features of the program and disable Proofing (a listed option). Oddly, removing it will… not… remove it. It remains there the second you go back into add/remove features. Great.

Experiments

I recall in Office 2003 there was a proofing directory or file that could just be moved, and that would be good enough. In 2007 there is a file named msproof6.dll. The name itself clearly suggested it was the proofing library. After removing it in an attempt to break the proofing I followed up by booting Word. Once text was entered, instantly the repair install ran and the file was back. Dang. I even tried limiting rights to the file and making it read only, that did not produce a good result either. I never thought I’d get mad at Office having such good repair capabilities.

I then waltzed into the Windows\Installer directory and found that Office had multiple msi’s it used for repairing, four of them being proofing (Proofing, and proofing-english/spanish/french). Uninstalling  (via right click) proofing, then the proofing-english msi’s worked in inhibiting spell check, however the only way to undo this was to reinstall word as the repair installer would report Office being in a corrupt unrepairable state.

I then tried messing around with MSOCACHE files as there are files there as well, which contain Proofing msi’s, which I had no luck with. There are XML files that may be tinkered with to get a good result, but nothing looked simple. I also went through the registry and couldn’t find anything relevant which may work.

The Hack

A really quick and simple one actually, the best kind. I renamed two files (below paths may not reflect your program files directory):

  1. msproof6.dll (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12)
  2. setup.exe (C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\microsoft shared\OFFICE12\Office Setup Controller)

What does this do? Renaming msproof6.dll breaks/disables proofing. Setup.exe renamed stops Office from instantly running a repair when proofing fails. Simple.

Batch files enable and disable can be downloaded if needed. These must be run as administrator. It may be easier if used frequently to create a shortcut to these, and on the shortcut properties apply ‘Always use administrator’ to them.

Comments 6

  • unfortunately not working for office 2010 (office 14), as it recreates a setup.exe and msproof6.dll from somewhere (probably the installation cache, I didn’t have time to check)
    But nice trick for 2007!

  • I should look into 2010 when I have time. Only issue is that finding time may take some time :) I’m sure 2010 can be done through a similar means.

  • Why don’t you just remove the dictionary files (or overwrite them with empty files) from the “Proof” folder in the MS Office 2010 installation location?
    Are they also recreated? (not if they are empty)
    I doubt, it, since it is not a dll, but just the dictionary files. So it would display that proofing is still active and installed, but it would not find anything :-)

    BTW:
    If you know an answer how to ENABLE proofing of other languages after manually copying the proofing files into the proof folder (as it used to be possible in Office 2005, Office picked it up automatically!) this would be great!

  • ^ I believe in my attempts I did try an empty file with no success. Office has a good system for self-repair. Can’t say I know how to enable for other languages. It has been awhile since I looked into this and I’ve had no need for that just yet.

  • Thanks this worked for office 2007. I set a couple of laptops up for exams here at my school.

  • Thanks for this, however check grammar with spelling and mark grammar errors as you type are still enabled. How are these disabled?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *