Your Mac: Literacy Tool?


Tiger Dictionary Service A couple of months ago, a coworker of mine showed me Tiger’s really cool “mouse over” dictionary. Hold command control and hit d. Then mouse over just about any word in any Cocoa app, and a definition of the word pops-up below it. I can’t seem to snag a screenshot of it. It keeps disappearing! Update: 11/25: Screenshot courtesy of Andy Smith

Dictionary Dashboard Widget

This feature is simply another view into Tiger’s “Dictionary Service”, also accessible from /Applications/, and corresponding Dashboard Widget.

For years, many Cocoa applications have also surfaced Mac OS X’s built-in spellchecker, such as iChat, Colloquy, Mail, Safari, Keynote, Pages, Adium to name a microscopic few. It constantly bails me out of spelling errors.

Can’t quite get the family to switch to Mac? This very simple, yet effective pervasive educational value just might help tip the balance over.


Art K.

The dictionary is a great tool to be used beyond spell-checking. It enables the user to look up words on the fly – going beyond most people’s reliance on context to define a word whose meaning they are unsure of.

Now, if it only worked in Firefox, among many other programs it still doesn’t work with. If I am wrong about this, let me know what to do to make it work.

Ted B

It would be great to have this available in foreign languages too.

I tried it under both the Japanese and French versions of the Finder, but it seems that the dictionary is only available in English.

Pity because it would make a great educational tool.

Chris Holland

The key is that this dictionary service is only a “Tool”. With proper guidance and motivation, it ought to help us out. If we let the spelling suggestion do the work for us and not make any attempt to memorize the correct spelling, or further crystalize it in our minds by looking up its definition in the dictionary via a quick cmd-ctrl-d, then we’re indeed being lazy and not making the best use of it.

So mileage will indeed vary, and I agree with both Josh’s and DMann’s arguments.

But all in all, I find it a very nice tool to have on my computing platform of choice.

Andy Smith: Cool, would you mind if I used your screenshot in the main story? Do you have a site I can credit you at?


The mere effort of acting upon a desire to learn
would seem to rule out laziness. Before Tiger, I read
articles with a dictionary on my lap. On an average,
I looked up 3 words per article. With Tiger, I look up 8 or more. My curiosity of etymology has been greatly
stimulated by the ease of access. If anything, people will
likely become more curious and less lazy with this vast resource available.

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