New to Mac? Check out the built-in Dictionary app

Dictionary App Dictionary Mac

Your Mac has its Look Up tool for getting quick definitions and other details about a word or phrase. But if you’re brand new to Mac, you might not realize that there’s an actual Dictionary app. This app that comes with your Mac can be quite useful too.

What makes the Dictionary app on Mac handy is that you can customize it with the sources you want. This lets you get information on something from Wikipedia, a synonym with the thesaurus, and of course, a definition with the Oxford Dictionary. Plus, you can have the option of multiple languages.

If you’re curious about the Dictionary app on your Mac, or want to allow your child to use it for schoolwork, here’s how to customize and use it.

The Dictionary app on Mac

Open and customize the Dictionary app

You can find the Dictionary app in your Applications folder or by using Spotlight.

Once you open it, you can pop in a word or phrase right away using the default sources. But to make it more useful, consider customizing it for those you’ll use most.

Dictionary App Thesaurus Mac

Click Dictionary > Preferences from the menu bar.

You’ll see all of the reference sources listed at the top with available languages at the bottom. If you don’t see the language you want in the list, click Other Languages and browse for it there.

Then it’s as simple as checking boxes for what you want to use. In the list of sources at the top, you can drag those you select to the order you want them. This makes it easier when you open the Dictionary.

Dictionary App Preferences Mac

When you finish, just close the preferences and then take the app for a spin.

Using the Dictionary app

Enter a word or phrase into the Search box at the top of the Dictionary window. Then, select the source you want to use. You can also choose All which is on the right to see results from every source. Pick the result you want on the left and you’ll see full details on the right.

Dictionary App Wikipedia Mac

If your source has a link, it will open right within the Dictionary window. So you don’t have to open your browser, which is convenient.

If you use Wikipedia as a source and do want to open the site in your browser, scroll to the bottom and click the View web page link. That page will open in your default browser, like Safari.

Dictionary App Wikipedia View Web Site Mac

The Dictionary window

You can use the arrows on the top left to go back or forward and the font size buttons to increase or decrease the text size.

If you want to look up another word or phrase, but keep the details for the one you have, just open a new tab by clicking the plus sign on the right of the tab bar. You can open several tabs at once, letting you get information on everything you need in one spot.

Dictionary App Window Mac

Restrict explicit content

If you want to allow your child to use the Dictionary app for school, this is a great way to make use of it. But you may want to be sure they don’t see explicit content with it.

This control is contained in the Screen Time settings on Mac. If you’d like more details on setting up Screen Time, we have a helpful tutorial. But if you already have and just need to restrict the content for the Dictionary, follow these steps.

1) Open your System Preferences using the icon in your Dock or Apple icon > System Preferences from the menu bar.

2) Select Screen Time.

3) Pick the user on the top left and select Content on the right.

4) Uncheck the box next to Allow for Explicit Language in Siri & Dictionary.

Disallow Explicit Content Dictionary Mac

Wrapping it up

The Dictionary app is one of those built-in tools that can be handy and useful, as long as you remember it’s there. So take advantage of it on your Mac the next time you need to look something up!

Did you realize you had a Dictionary app on your Mac or are you now going to give it a try? Let us know!

And for more articles that can help those new to Mac, take a look at how to view, pause, and stop notifications or how to use full screen mode on your Mac.