For word nerds everywhere, the Dictionary (and thesaurus) is a blessing—a handy way to look up word definitions, pronunciations, and synonyms. To be precise, Mac OS X comes with electronic versions of multiple reference works in one:

  • The entire New Oxford American Dictionary. The third edition, actually.

  • The complete Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus.

  • A dictionary of Apple terms, from “A/UX” to “Xsan.” (Apparently there aren’t any Apple terms that begin with Y or Z.)

  • Wikipedia. Of course, this famous open-source, citizen-created encyclopedia isn’t actually on your Mac. All Dictionary does is give you an easy way to search the online version, and display the results right in the comfy Dictionary window.

  • A Japanese dictionary, thesaurus, and Japanese-to-English translation dictionary.


You don’t ordinarily see the Japanese reference books. You have to turn them on in Dictionary→Preferences.

Mac OS X also comes with about a million ways to look up a word:

  • If you have a trackpad, point to a word in a basic Mac program, and then double-touch the trackpad (don’t actually click) with three fingers. (It doesn’t work unless you’ve turned it on in System Preferences→Trackpad.)

  • Double-click the Dictionary icon. You get the window shown at top in Figure 16-3. As you type into the Spotlight-y search box, you home in on matching words; click a word, or highlight it and press Return, to view a full, typographically elegant definition, complete with sample sentence and pronunciation guide. ...

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