Looking up words while working in Scrivener

Looking up words in the desktop dictionary, while working in Scrivener:

Good advice. It only works IF you place Dictionary as a free-standing app in the Applications folder, not hidden inside a folder called Reference or Dictionary. This is a curious contraction of OS policy, which for several years now has let users place applications inside named folders. Several update packages also have this limitation; they need to see apps standing free in the App folder.

Why don`t you just right click on the word? :open_mouth:

I use the Dictionary/Thesaurus widget on my Dashboard and find that it works very well. If I’m stuck on a spelling or, more often, simply at a loss for a better word for my thought, I just hit the dashboard button and type the word into the widget, which populates in half a second. As this is almost the only widget I utilize regularily, the cursor is almost always already in the box, so I don’t even have to touch the mouse to check words. It’s very quick and efficient.

It’s definately my favourite widget, though I also like a random character generator one I picked up a while ago. I use it for when I have single-scene characters (such as a shop-keeper) and just need basic traits. It gives a random name, with hair, weight, eye-, hair-colour, etc. Very useful for those very minor characters.

Unless you’re like me and insist on having even the throwaway characters have their own meanings. I spent probably half an hour figuring out the name for a character who doesn’t even appear in one of my novels–he’s the insane twin of a main character.

I also like having Opera handy to use Google’s “define:” function.

Oh, I may certainly go back a write up a big back story for the grumbling, grey-hair shop-keep who has one line in a scene, but for the initial draft, it’s great for quickly grabbing a name and trait so as to not ruin the flow of the writing.

Of course, I’m a discovery writer, so I never have that stuff planned out before the first draft, so it works for me. :slight_smile:

I finally took your advice and purchased a Apple wireless mouse - I was amazed to find I could right-click, or left-click for left hander… I love the design, and smile, while thinking how cleaver the designers were not to add a button to an Apple mouse! It even scrolls or zooms without a mouse wheel and flips pages using two fingers.

The first time I used the right-click, I thought about your reply!

I`ve just come across your response. :slight_smile:
I use an Optical Intellimouse, that I bought around the time Pangeae, first started to drift, approx. the G3 era, but it was only about the beginning of 08, that I discovered right click thingy. :open_mouth:

The Apple Mighty (Mickey), Mouse that came with my iMac, stopped scrolling after three weeks, so I gave it to the mousehound, to play with. And reverted to MSMouse.

Glad youre enjoying Aps new wireless mouse.:wink:
Take Care


I’ve just done the tutorial and I’m surprised there is no dictionary/thesaurus built into scrivener. Like in word where you click on a word, right click and navigate to look up or synonyms, select your choice and it replaces in your text. Looking up in a separate dictionary is inconvenient. Is this because it’s not a word processor? I’m excited about the other features and eager to try them out, but I’ll miss the look up feature of word.

Rosamune, if you happen to check back I’d sure like to know where you got your ‘random character generator’ widget. I’ve searched but can’t find it. tx


Highlight a word, right click and the third option down is “Look up in dictionary.” The box that opens has a Thesaurus and Wikipedia choice as well.

Best :slight_smile:


ChrisO, this is a common thing with Mac applications. Apple has provided many tools in the OS that would otherwise take lots of time and money to re-invent. Purchasing the rights to use a good dictionary and then coding all of the linkages to that data source would be a strange move to make when you can tap into Apple’s Dictionary program which comes with a great Oxford dictionary right out of the box. Familiarising yourself with the best ways to access the network of tools that Apple provides is definitely time well spent, and in most cases the separation between applications comes to feel artificial. Yes, it’s a different program in the Dock, but you can get to it just as fast as if it were a separate window in the application. In addition to that, there are some cool third-party tools that can make dictionary look-ups seamless from anywhere on the system. LaunchBar and Quicksilver can run word searches lightning fast. I happen to use the former, and with that I can highlight a word, double-tap the Fn key on my laptop, and then type the letter ‘d’ which is my abbreviation for “Send text to Dictionary.app”; hit enter and poof, there is the definition. Another neat trick that works in nearly all Cocoa applications is to hover over a word and press Ctrl-Cmd-D.

Another advantage of using the Apple system is that it allows you to add other dictionaries, so currently my Dictionary.app includes a Chinese - English dictionary, and, as it happens, three English - Chinese dictionaries — they came as a bundle! — as well as the Oxford Dictionary — American English unfortunately :wink: — the Apple Dictionary, Thesaurus and Wikipedia. If Scrivener contained its own dictionary it would lose all that … or else become hopelessly bloated.
One of the things I loathe about having to use Windows here — something I have to do periodically — is that wherever the cursor is, a window pops up giving the pronunciation, an explanation, a translation etc. of whatever character or word happens to be under the cursor at that moment, masking a large amount of the screen.
A select, right-click, choose “Look up in Dictionary” suits me fine. And after the first one, the Dictionary is open in the background, so it’s pretty quick.


Please note, if you use nested folders in the Applications folder, as I do for various types of apps (Images, Movies, Music, etc) the Dictionary app must stand on its own in Applications.

Otherwise, Select-Control on a word will not bring up Dictionary.

This is one of Apple’s weird contradictions of its own interface guidelines. Nested folders in Applications have been allowed since OS X, but you can’t “hide” Dictionary that way. You also must have the iWork and iLife folders showing, in order to run updates on their components. Although you may later hide the folders, if you wish.

Yeah, it’s a good idea to keep Apple’s software at the top level, which is supremely annoying because half of that stuff I have no interest in and just want to bury in an “Unused” folder somewhere, but every single update will then produce copies instead of updating the moved applications. I mean really, keeping Photo Booth and iChat visible at all times? Is that necessary?

Thanks for all the suggestions. I do use Apple’s dictionary/thesaurus. It’s the replace feature I miss. I also have eReader Merriam-Webster’s D/T I can open quickly. Both apps cover a good part of the document when I want to refer back and forth. I guess I’ll get used to it.

I didn’t consider all the links that would have to be coded in an internal D/T. That would be mind boggling. :open_mouth:

Has anyone solved the problem with the download My Novel Structure.scrtpl that igregor posted (on Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:55 am)? The string is so old, no one has visited it to answer my question. I’ve tried all the suggestions and it still comes up as unselectable. I’m on snow leopard 10.6.4. I’d really like to try this template.