Friday, August 28, 2009

How to use the built-in Japanese dictionaries and thesaurus in Mac OS X

While I'm on the topic of hidden little gems inside Mac OS X for language learning, did you know that Mac OS X comes with a built-in Japanese-English dictionary, Japanese-Japanese dictionary, and Japanese thesaurus? Yeah, I had no idea either, but it's handy to have around.

Where you can find them, after the jump.

If you weren't already clued in by the icon above, it's not particularly shocking where you'll find them—in Mac OS X's Dictionary app. But the Japanese dictionaries are not enabled by default, so you've gotta do that first. Here's how:
  1. Open Dictionary.app.
  2. Select Preferences from the Dictionary menu.
  3. In the "Drag sources into the order you prefer" list, make sure Japanese, Japanese-English, and Japanese Synonyms are checked.
  4. Close the preference pane.


Once you've done that, looking up a word is a piece of cake:
  1. In the reference library row, click on the library in which you'd like to search (e.g., Japanese-English, Japanese, or Japanese Synonyms) or, if you'd like to search all of the libraries at the same time, click on "All".
  2. Enter what you're looking for in the search field.


And your results appear below.

As far as how good the Japanese-English dictionary is compared to free online Japanese-English dictionaries, it's most comparable to Excite, Yahoo! Japan, and Infoseek; solid definitions, but example sentences and other features found in better online dictionaries comparatively lack. Still, as I always have my laptop with me, the dictionary comes in handy from time to time when I can't get online, so it's nice to know it's around.

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