Editing OS X's spell checking dictionary

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Reader Michael Glotzer would like to take a peek inside Apple’s spell checking dictionary. He writes:

Do you know a tip to synchronize, review, and/or edit user additions to the OS X built in spell checking dictionary?

Sort of, yes, and yes.

If by “synchronize” you mean replacing a puny spell checking dictionary on one Mac with the more robust dictionary from another Mac, here’s the way: Travel to ~/Library/Spelling and copy the en file to the same location on another Mac, replacing the en file on that Mac. (As usual, I’d suggest moving the original file to a safe location in case you’re unhappy with the results of your work.) Log out of the other Mac and back in to use the spelling dictionary from the original Mac.

Note that you’ll see this Spelling folder only if you’ve added at least one word to the spell checking dictionary via the Learn Spelling contextual command.

To review the user additions to the spell checking dictionary download a copy of Bare Bones Software’s free TextWrangler. Open the en file in TextWrangler and choose Edit > Text Options. In the resulting sheet, enable the Show Invisibles option and click OK. You’ll find that the additions are now separated by a red ¿ character.

To edit user additions, delete any additions you don’t care for or add new ones, separating them with this upside-down question mark character that you’ve copied from within the document. Save the file and log out and log back in again for the changes to take.

And returning to the first point, if you meant actually combining the two dictionaries, you could do that simply enough by appending the contents of one en file to another via copy and paste.

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