I use Thunderbird with two sets of dictionaries: English and Spanish. In the spell checker menu I find about 30 localized dictionaries (all Spanish-speaking countries, and for English: US, England, Canada).

It's quite annoying that every time I need to look for the single proper dictionary, I see all this heap of other dictionaries (useless for me).

Is there any way to remove the unused dictionaries from the menu and leave 2 or 3 that I really use?

  • To add insult to injury, the huge pile of Spanish dictionaries are just symlinks to the Spanish (Spain) dictionary. That is, they don't even exist, the only thing they do is annoy. Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 11:35

6 Answers 6


The solution I found is delete unused dictionaries from /usr/share/myspell/dicts.

*.dic and *.aff files, and leave only the three languages I use: en-US.dic, en-US.aff, es.dic, es-ES.dic, es-ES.aff.

Backup the whole directory before delete anything.

  • This folder is not used anymore, current Ubuntu has the dictionaries in /usr/share/hunspell. Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 11:33

What I did:

  1. Deleting the dictionaries symbolic link in /usr/lib/thunderbird/
  2. Installing the dictionaries manually (Tools > Options or Edit > Preferences, then Composition, and click on Download More Dictionaries).
  3. Adding a dpkg-divert rule to prevent the link to be restored each time Thunderbird is updated.

From a command line, type:

sudo rm /usr/lib/thunderbird/dictionaries
sudo dpkg-divert --no-rename --add /usr/lib/thunderbird/dictionaries

And then install the dictionaries you want in Thunderbird as explained above.


A first, likely simpler solution can be achieved by GUI on some systems. Check for a menu like "language settings" and a point "supported languages". There you can remove whole languages in one go.

For more fine grained control (e.g. removing language dialects) see below.

A full solution can be found by combining the existing answers:

There are multiple locations for the languages (dictionaries):

  • /usr/share/myspell/dicts
  • /usr/share/hunspell
  • /usr/lib/thunderbird/dictionaries (which is just a symlink to /usr/share/hunspell)

(from Ringtail, Chris and Calimos answer)

These are system installed dictionaries. So to cleanly remove them you have to sudo apt remove the packages that installed the files. To find out which packages those reside in you can use apt-file search <path/to/file>.

Relevant packages are:

  • mythes-*
  • hyphen-*
  • hunspell-*

You can put all 3 into a sudo apt remove, check the matches before confirming (WARNING: confirming it would remove ALL dictionaries which is usually not what you want) and abort. Then copy&past the relevant packages into a fresh command.

Alternatively start with e.g. sudo apt remove hunspell-<TAB> and let autocompletion list the installed packages.


sudo apt remove hunspell-ru hyphen-ru mythes-ru

This would remove all russian language stuff.

  • This is my preferred solution. Clean and simple. Note that some dictionaries in /usr/share/hunspell may have been installed with a myspell-... package. So sudo apt remove myspell-<TAB> may also be needed.
    – mivk
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 6:17

According to https://askubuntu.com/a/301951, there are two locations:

  1. /usr/share/hunspell/
  2. /home/me/.thunderbird/o5sgu7z7.default/extensions (o5sgu7z7 will be different in your case)

On my system I had a whole bunch of hunspell-en-* packages installed. The following command got rid of them and these dictionaries disappeared from the menu:

sudo apt purge hunspell-en-ca hunspell-en-gb hunspell-en-za
  • 1
    This does not work here because these package names don't exist, only hunspell-en the others are mere symlinks in /usr/share/hunspell/ to one .dic and .aff file.
    – ñull
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 11:23

As an alternative to removing the dictionaries, you can change the spellchecking dictionary quickly without removing your hands from the keyboard. While the cursor is in the text field, press:

  • the menu key , than
  • l (or a different underscored letter in Ḻanguages menu label), than
  • the first letter of your dictionary (s for Spanish, e for English),
  • if you have multiple dictionaries starting with the same letter, keep pressing its key, until the correct dictionary is highlighted,
  • press Enter.

Checked to work in Gnome 3.

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