FAQ: How to I change the default language in Word for Mac? [Word 2011]

With Office 2011 for Mac, you can check spelling and grammar in languages other than English.

Word 2011 for Mac comes with foreign-language dictionaries such as Czech, French, Russian, and you can also change the ‘brand’ of English (UK, US, Australian).

The default dictionary determines which language’s proofing tools Word uses for spelling and grammar.

You can change Word’s default language dictionary:

  1. Choose Tools→Language.
  2. The Language dialog opens, and you see a list of languages. Select the new language to use and click the Default button.
  3. A pop-up will appear to change the default language.
  4. Click Yes to change Word’s default spelling and grammar checking language to the language you selected. Click OK to close the Language dialog.

Update: This didn’t stick for some documents that I created and amended with this. Until the latest update, and now they seem to be sticking to the language I selected.

Additional Resources


  1. Leanne Porter says:

    Can you please advise how to make this change be permanent. I have followed these steps at least 100 times since getting my mac. It removes the red underlining from words I have already changed back to Australian spelling. But the next time I type “organise” or “realise” (e.g.) in the same document or another one it changes the s to a z. I then have to follow the process again to get the word to be recognised. I need a way to be able to change the settings on the computer permanently so that the default language remains as English (AUS) for all office documents. If there is no way to do this I am going to have to throw this stupid computer in the bin as it is driving me insane!

  2. Same for Dutch :'(
    I Crie Evreytiem

  3. Ben White says:

    I am using Word for Mac and every time I close down a document when I reopen it it is US English. Does anyone know how to permanently make UK English please?

    • August Elokuu says:

      You can change it by opening Word -> Tools -> Language -> Check some language -> Default

      • Tony Goulding says:

        Read the thread. This is the way it _should_ work but it’s not sticking for many users, myself included.
        So after a bunch of messing around, I discovered that my standard Language setting (English/US) was set for Excel and Word, but PowerPoint for some reason was stuck on Polish.
        Eventually, I went into both Word and Excel and changed the default something arbitrary (e.g. German), quit all apps, then went back into Word/Excel and changed back to English/US.
        THEN when I went back into PowerPoint, I changed the rogue Polish to English/US, quit, restarted, and it was stuck. Phew.
        Hope this helps someone.
        Using Office/Mac 15.22 BTW.

  4. Mike Skinner says:

    Hi all, I think I may have found the answer you are looking for with regards to Microsoft Office default language settings on Macs.

    I am currently using Microsoft Word for Mac 2011, Version 14.6.3. Mac OS X, Version 10.9.5.

    I have struggled with the same problem, constantly going in Word to > Tools> Language> changing to UK> making this default etc, only to find the next time I open a document or restart the machine it has changed back to US! FRUSTRATION! X-(

    However this has worked for me. Go to Launch Pad> System Settings> Language and Region, then add “British English” (or whatever your required language is) in the “Preferred Languages” box and remove the “English – English” option.

    On the right side change “Region” to United Kingdom (or your required place).

    Lower down is “Keyboard Preferences” and in “Text” I changed to “Spelling: British English” (again insert your preferred choice).

    On new Word docs this works, as I want it to, even after the machine has been restarted. Older documents made prior to this change may need copy / paste to a new doc, but at least this resolves the issue.

    Hope this helps and you haven’t thrown your Mac out the window yet!

    Mike Skinner.

  5. Kieron O'Connell says:

    I have the same problem as everybody else listed here. I have sent feedback to Microsoft several times but nothing ever happens. I think everybody that runs this programme has this problem but Microsoft choose to ignore it and bury their heads in the sand and pretend that it is an isolated insident instead of fixing it. IT IS NOT AN ISOLATED INSIDENT. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FIX IT.

    • Hi Kieren – I don’t work for Microsoft and share your frustration. If you look at some of the other comments, there have been some alternative suggestions that I personally have found useful. Good luck!

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