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Become A Cunning Linguist With Foreign Languages On Your Mac dictionary We are only scratching the surface with the built-in OS X Dictionary application. Dictionary is integrated into the system so if you need to define a word while surfing with Safari, all you need to do is select that word and press Command+Control+D. It even works directly in Spotlight without opening the Dictionary application.

If you’ve always wanted to look up another language besides English, you have several options:

  • Add additional language plugins to Dictionary.app
  • Use an online dictionary
  • Use a program which acts as a desktop interface for an online dictionary
  • Get a separate translation application

The first option (plugins) is obviously the most convenient for use because then you would get your foreign translations with the hotkey even while using other applications; but it is difficult to find these plugins for Dictionary. There are some, of course; and I have listed them below. You could use DictUnifier to make your own plugin by converting StarDict dictionary files into the format which Dictionary.app recognizes (see tutorial here – external link) but it is a tricky procedure and is not recommended for the faint of hearts.

Otherwise, the next three options are just as good although using an online dictionary will require you to be connected to the internet, obviously.

Here are some translation tools which I have found and I hope they prove to be useful to you. All of them translate from the foreign language to English. They are Dictionary.app plugins unless stated otherwise. Clicking on the link will download the application.

Arabic

Arabic Dictionary (8.8MB ZIP)
Alqamoos Almuheet Arabic-Arabic Dictionary (5.8MB DMG)

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Chinese

CEDICT (39.1MB ZIP)
Atomix Dojam [Independant Application] (13.7MB DMG)
Yazi [Independent Application] (2.1MB ZIP)

Croatian

Mini Dictionary [Dashboard Widget] (3.3MB ZIP)

Danish

Danish-English Dictionary [Independent Application] (3.9MB DMG)

Dutch

Van Dale [Dashboard Widget] (49KB ZIP)

French

Mac Translate [Desktop Interface] (944KB ZIP)

German

BeoLingus German-English (183MB DMG)
OpenThesaurus German (21.6MB DMG)
dict.cc Dictionary Plugin (188MB ZIP)
LEO Dictionary [Dashboard Widget] (25KB ZIP)
Mac Translate [Desktop Interface] (944KB ZIP)

Hebrew

Limon [Independent Application] (373KB ZIP)

Hungarian

SwiftTranslate [Independent Application] (12.5MB ZIP)

Italian

De Mauro [Dashboard Widget] (49KB ZIP)
Mac Translate [Desktop Interface] (944KB ZIP)

Latin

WORDS Latin Dictionary [Independent Application] (14.3MB DMG)

Japanese

Mac Translate [Desktop Interface] (944KB ZIP)
*OS X’s Dictionary has already got built-in support for Japanese! To turn this option on, go to the preferences in Dictionary and check the Japanese dictionaries you need.

Polish

Polish-English Dictionary [Dashboard Widget] (84KB ZIP)

Spanish

Mac Translate [Desktop Interface] (944KB ZIP)

Swedish

Lexikon [Desktop Interface] (99KB ZIP)

Thai

Thai Dictionary (40MB ZIP)

Alternatively, you could use StarDict, they have a huge selection of dictionaries but the interface is a little painful to the eyes. Otherwise, TranslateIt! is a very good translation application which is shareware (you can try it for 20 days to see how it is) – if you are trying to translate Russian, this is the tool you need.

How do you get your translations? Do you use any of the applications listed above? How do you find them? Are there any better ones which I should have listed? Let me know in the comments!

(By) Jackson Chung is a full-time medical student attempting to perform a juggling act with relationship, studies and his future.

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