Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge include options to improve basic web browser spell checking functionality.
Chrome’s Enhanced Spell Check and Microsoft Edge’s Microsoft Editor are designed to make spell checking even better, but they do so by forwarding just about everything users type in fields to company servers.
Chrome users find the improved spell checking feature on the language settings page. You can access it by loading chrome://settings/languages in the browser address bar or by selecting Menu > Settings > Languages.
When enabled, Chrome uses the same spell checker used by Google Search. Google notes that text users type after enabling the feature is sent to Google.
Similarly, when users enable Microsoft Editor in the Edge browser, they improve spell checking, but their entered data is submitted to Microsoft accordingly. Microsoft does not mention that the data entered is sent to company servers when Microsoft Editor is activated.
Josh Summitt posted his findings on the functionality of enhanced spell checkers on the otto-js company blog.
Summitt discovered that browsers automatically send almost all typed data after enabling enhanced spell checking features; this included usernames, email addresses, but also anything entered as comments or in forms.
Passwords are not submitted by default, but when users use the “Show password” option on websites, they are submitted automatically. The passwords are then sent to third-party servers along with other information.
It only takes a single click to activate the enhanced functionality. Google notifies users when submitting entered data, while Microsoft does not in Edge. Summitt notes that home users and organizations are affected alike.
A haunting video shows how organizations can inadvertently expose information about a company’s cloud infrastructure, including servers, databases, corporate email accounts and password managers, to Google or Microsoft.
Chrome and Edge users may want to ensure that enhanced features are not enabled in their browsers. It is unclear how the data is processed, how it is used and whether it is stored or not.
How to Disable Enhanced Spell Checker in Chrome
- Load chrome://settings/languages in the browser address bar or go to Menu > Settings > Languages.
- Locate the Spell Check preferences group on the page.
- Make sure “Basic spell checking” is turned on or “Check for spelling mistakes when typing text on web pages” is completely turned off.
How to Disable Microsoft Editor in Microsoft Edge
- Load edge://settings/languages in the Microsoft Edge address bar or go to Menu > Settings > Languages.
- Locate the “Use write assistance” option group on the page.
- Make sure Basic is selected or “use writing assistance” is disabled entirely.
Enhanced spell check is a useful feature as it promises to find spelling and grammar issues that basic spell check cannot. The improvement comes at the cost of submitting the data to the cloud. Considering that everything entered, except for passwords, is submitted automatically, most internet users might want to disable the feature.
Now you: do you use spell check in your browser? (Going through beeping computer)