OS X Spelling Dictionaries


I have recently added an MacBook Air to my collection, and I know that on my MacBook Pro I have added some things to the custom dictionaries. Rather than manually go though and add these things to the dictionary on the MBA, I was wondering if anyone knew if it were possible to simply copy the custom dictionaries from computer to computer…

Any ideas or where to look? My attempts at using Google have resulted in how to learn and unlearn words, but not how to move the entire dictionary…


Go to the folder Username>Library>Spelling

Inside that you should find your custom dictionary. In mine it is en_GB, so I imagine yours will be en_US or something of the kind.

Copy it to the same location on your MBA – I’ve just tried it with mine, and it seems to work. Be aware that on Lion the user Library folder is normally hidden. Use the Go menu and hold down the Option key to reveal it.

Cheers, Martin.

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What Martin said (he beat me to it while I was double checking).

Even simpler is to copy all the contents of the Spelling folder in your MBP’s Library to the equivalent folder of your MBA. Make sure you back up everything first and make a duplicate of all the contents you intend to replace in case things go horribly wrong.

PS – there is a free dictionary editor for OS X that you might find useful:


I thought it was something like that when I had initially started looking. I had copied the contents of that folder to the Air, but it didn’t seem to do anything, so I’m wondering if I had really added anything to the custom dictionaries…

I wonder what the harm would be in having something like sugar sync keep that folder in sync between the two Macs…

Thank you for the help.


I suspect that if you change anything that’s used by the system it’s necessary to log out and back in again before the system will register that it has changed. Or it may be necessary to restart the computer. I wouldn’t know whether it is safe to synchronise. But I normally use Spell Catcher, anyway, so the situation is slightly different for me.