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Tutorial: Use the built-in OS X Dictionary

Find out how, through its strong integration in Mac OS X, the powerful and flexible built-in Dictionary application can quickly become an essential part of your set of computer-based tools

Ever read an email or a webpage and hit a word whose meaning you didn’t know? Or maybe you keep using the same word over and over and wish you could expand your vocabulary? We’ve all been there. However, this could all be a thing of the past, because when reading a webpage or eBook on your Mac, the invaluable Dictionary application comes to your aid. With its integration inside the Apple OS, Dictionary’s contribution knows no bounds.
Indeed, Dictionary is accessible through a contextual menu item in the Apple suite of utilities and applications – like TextEdit, Safari, and Mail – making checking definitions simple. The addition of a Dashboard widget Dictionary, which also operates as a thesaurus, makes for a highly accessible reference tool. Furthermore, it is not only based on the New Oxford American Dictionary and Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, but also uses such online resources as Wikipedia and can be extended with the addition of other dictionaries.

1: Where is Dictionary located?
It’s located in the Applications folder but can also be accessed via the contextual menu item ‘Look up in Dictionary’. Adding the widget to the Dashboard is part of the default set of widgets installed with Mac OS X, which can be accessed by clicking on the ‘+’ in the lower left-hand corner of the Dashboard screen.

2: Dictionary Preferences
Preferences are accessed through the Dictionary menu. The pane consists of two sections: the top one shows the list of available reference sources, the other configures how Dictionary reacts to your actions.

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