A Dictionary tip from Fresno

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I had the pleasure to offer my Prophylactic Mac presentation to the Fresno Macintosh Users Group (FMUG) last night. A good time was had by all (or, at least, by me).

Past President Norman Klampert began the evening with a session for the group’s Mac beginners. At the end of that session he reminded me of a Tiger tip that I put to all-to-infrequent use.

That tip is that, while working on a Mac running Tiger, you stumble across a word you’re unfamiliar with, place your cursor over that word and press Control-Command-D. With luck (meaning the application supports Apple’s Dictionary program) a contextual window will pop up that displays that word’s definition. Should you care to see a synonym for the word, just click the Oxford Dictionary entry at the bottom of the window and choose Oxford Thesaurus.

Applications such as Apple’s Safari, Mail, TextEdit, Keynote and Pages and Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit support this feature while Firefox and the Microsoft Office applications don’t.

Speaking of Apple’s Dictionary, you can cause Dictionary to define words when you’re working in Safari. Just type dict:/// someword —where someword is the word you want to define—into Safari’s Address field, press Return, and Dictionary will open. When it opens the first time, the word isn’t defined—you have to enter it into Dictionary’s Search field. Once Dictionary is open, however, the next time you ask Safari to define a word using the formula I provided, Dictionary will march to the front and display the definition.

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