Mac OS X Built-In Dictionary and Thesaurus

Find Definitions for Words Instantly

Dictionary and hand finding word

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A dictionary is the language user's best friend, and a thesaurus is the dictionary's soul mate. As you read and write emails, would it not be nice to have at hand a dictionary to define words, guide pronunciation, and elucidate etymologies as well as a thesaurus to find the right word by way of synonyms and antonyms?

Mac OS X comes with The New Oxford American Dictionary and The Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus built in. Mac OS X Mail makes accessing these powerful tools particularly easy.

Access Dictionary and Thesaurus in Mac OS X Mail

To instantly access dictionary and thesaurus in Mac OS X Mail:

  1. Place the mouse cursor over the desired word.
  2. Press Command-Ctrl-D (think define).
  3. You can also tap with three fingers on the trackpad (with Look up & data detectors enabled in Trackpad preferences).
  4. Go to the Dictionary tab if you see it at the bottom of the definition window.
  5. In Mail 2:
  6. To access the thesaurus, select Oxford Thesaurus from the Oxford Dictionary drop-down menu.
  7. To see derivatives, origins, and phrases, click More….

Look up Multiple Words in a Row in Mail 2

This shortcut to the dictionaries works both when you read and when you compose messages. To look up multiple words quickly, keep Command-Ctrl pressed as you move the mouse cursor over desired words (you can release the D key).

The same keyboard combination also brings up definitions in many other Mac OS X applications like Safari.