Practical Use of Apple’s Dictionary

In the article of the other day, having the same title as this one but in Japanese, I mentioned the way of adding the StarDict dictionaries to the Apple’s As I made on my page some links to jalasthāna which contains a lot of nice Tips especially for Asian studies, I left a short message to his article which concerned the use of StarDict. As a response to my brief message, he kindly introduced my blog on his yesterday’s posting, even taking the trouble to read Japanese with Google Translator. So this time, I will post the almost same content in English, hoping that this is a bit of benefit to Mac-Users who read his articles and that my English ability somewhat surpass the robotic linguist…

I guess the way to augment the dictionaries list of Apple’s is already well-known among the Mac users. contains only English and Japanese languages at default setting, even in Africa (see Mac OS X Hints). Who wants to use Japanese-to-Japanese dictionary in daily life? Naturally, the information on this topic has been in demand, above all for the people who usually need not these two languages. I clip some useful sites:

As explained here, we can convert any StarDict dictionary into the format supported by But now, we cannot access the page from which we could download tons of StarDict dictionaries only a few years ago. I’m not sure, but I wonder if it was caused by the problem of license?! Since we can find dictionaries here and there besides the StarDict HomePage, if you can identify the name of the dictionary, it would be even now possible to find some on the Web.

I myself tried to convert Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan dictionaries which are quite helpful for my specialization, Indology and Buddhist Studies. Fortunately, as concerns these dictionaries, jalasthāna’s site mirrors them even now. In my article the other day, I showed the brief procedure for converting Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary to Apples This time, I’d like to take an another example:

First of all, download DictUnifier-1.1.dmg from mac-dictionary-kit and drag-and-drop to your Applications folder. Download *.bz2 file of StarDict format of Nyanaponika Dictionary, move it in appropriate folder. At this point, you NEED NOT decompress it. It seems that the target file must be formatted as *.bz2. probably includes the decompression process (such as tar -xjf) inside. You can also use the command-line tool (sdconv) which can be found at the same place as and edit the program itself at your own risk, if you need not this decompression process (or want to use another format file such as *.zip).

Now, activate, choose Dictionary File (stardict-nyanaponika-bm-2.4.2.tar.bz2), and click “Covert” button.

When the conversion completes, you can find out the new dictionary in your ~/Library/Dictionaries. Let’s check the operation with activated.

If you are in Cocoa Applications like, and even itself (i.e., within the contents of the search term), hit Control-Command-D while you hover over a word, a dictionary will pop up with that words definition. This function is very useful if you want to clarify the meaning of a word or spell checking quickly and effectively. The following screenshot was captured while consulting BeoLingus German-English Dictionary for the “Mönch” of the entry “Nyanaponika” of German Wikipedia, within

10 thoughts on “Practical Use of Apple’s Dictionary

  1. Pingback: jalasthāna» Blog Archive » Amṛta and the use of StarDict dictionaries in Apple’s

  2. Thank you so much, that you have taken the time to rewrite your posting in English. I am absolutely sure that you have cheered up some StarDict frustrated Mac users today.

  3. Pingback: Practical Use of Apple’s Dictionary (2) | Amrta

  4. Pingback: 辞書.app を活用する | Amrta

  5. Pingback: 辞書.app を活用する (2) | Amrta

  6. Pingback: 辞書.app を活用する (3) | Amrta

  7. I have a dictionary in zip format. When I unzip the files and archive them again using tar.bz2 format, dictunifier is not accepting it. Can you help me with little explanation on how to use the command line alternative (I am totally new to mac) to build the dictionary from archive?

    • Your procedure seems to be right. probably could not convert all types of startdict-formatted dictionaries. The dictionary which you tried may be such type…

      You can download commandline utility sdconv here:

      But I’m afraid that sdconv also could not convert your dict, because this one is exactly same as I don’t know any other utilities such as, or sdconv…

  8. Hi,
    I followed your process (Practical Use of Apple’s Dictionary 1 and 2) but I got the errors as the following:

    ifo_file = .sdconv-temp/EnglishKhmerDico/EnglishKhmer.ifo
    dict_id = EnglishKhmer
    DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=’/Users/sophornpoch/Desktop/DictUnifier/DictUnifier/’ ‘/Users/sophornpoch/Desktop/DictUnifier/DictUnifier/’ ‘.sdconv-temp/EnglishKhmerDico/EnglishKhmer.ifo’ ‘.sdconv-temp/dict-EnglishKhmer/Dictionary.xml’
    convert dictionary English-Khmer failed, abort now.

    Could you help me how to fix this issue. Would you mind if i ask for your email address.

  9. Pingback: Sanskrit .dictionary files for Mac OS - lalitaalaalitah

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