Go-To Tips & Tricks: 4 Ways to Grab a Definition in MacOS like a Champ

Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash, Thanks!

We are reading many articles daily over internet from time to time and from place to place. You may encounter a litterateur’s writing with a fondness for sesquipedalian verbosity or a symbolic word in the article which you want to know further details in order to better understand the context of the sentence. Today I’ll show you four different tools for utilizing the dictionary of MacOS High Sierra on the fly, arranged in the order of better convenience which I prefer to go. After reading to the end you’ll find yourself to become like the tech-savvy.

1. Long Press

Updates of MacOS do not feel much difference for normal persons but for the tech-savvy. And here is one of important functions levels up your skill like that of the tech-savvy: Long Press! The Dictionary application is all well and fine, but do you really want to go through the trouble of opening the app every time you want to see a quick definition? That’ll take a whole three to five seconds if you don’t know the secret! I can say that Long Press is the much better one I get used to go with latest MacOS High Sierra.

Simply hover over a word, such as “Zillow” in the 1st example of the picture below and Long Press on the trackpad to see a little pop up window with the definition. Now you don’t need to memorize complex old-school shortcuts like ‘command-control-D’ which was used in old MacOS. Just one click does the job! Isn’t it cool? 

If you need to look up a phrase, try selecting multiple words with your text cursor and long press the same keyword such as ‘Marc Maron’ in the second example of the picture below. Notice that this little popup automatically gives you results from all of the relevant data sources including Siri Knowledge, iTunes Store, Web Videos, Movies.

2. Secondary Click

Alongside with the Long Press stated above, what is called ‘Secondary Click’ by Apple gives you a variety of options to choose with the sacrifice of usability—you need to add 2 more steps than awesome Long Press. First off as shown in the picture below, start with two finger tap on the key word (‘Edit’ in the second picture blow) for Secondary Click. And then you will see several options to choose. Select ‘Look Up “Edit”‘.  And you can see the definition as the third example in the picture below. However as you can deduce from the several options, additionally you can also copy the keyword or make your Mac to speech for yourself. Pretty intuitive, right?

3. Spotlight

Another lightning fast way to grab a quick definition is to use Spotlight. Simply hit Command-Space to open the Spotlight menu and fill in the word you’re looking to define as the example shown in the picture below. You need scroll jobs to finish it.  But there is quicker way: Command-L which locate the cursor right upon the definition! To crack this secret code, I had to tackle with my Macbook long ago. You are lucky!

MacOS, especially High Sierra, provides various ways to get your work done faster than your competitors if you know this secret.

4. Open the Dictionary app through Spotlight

Lastly as you expected from the beginning, you can launch the app Dictionary. However, there is also a faster way to bring it up: Command-Space for Spotlight!

Spotlight gives many ways to search not only what you need on your Mac but also over the internet. Powerful, isn’t it?

Just typing 3 characters ‘dic’ in the field of Spotlight search window, you can load Dictionary application as the first example shown below: I didn’t type the whole word dictionary but ‘dic’.

Use of the Dictionary app is completely straightforward: type only 2-3 characters out of a word, get the definition. If you set several dictionaries in preference, you can see multiple definitions in parallel as shown in the second example below.

Go Forward and Define

There you have it, four super fast ways to grab a definition in MacOS High Sierra. Now that you’ve read my suggestions, leave a comment and let me know how you go about looking up a word in MacOS. Do you use the methods listed here or your secret weapon? Please let me know!

Sungwook Kim