Tutorial: How to update dictionary files

Disclaimer: this is not endorsed by Literature and Latte. If you do the procedure described here you might break your Scrivener installation, or at least break the spellchecker.

A friend of mine messaged me yesterday telling me that he was amazed by Scrivener for Windows and wanted to use it for his books. He said that the only caveat was that the Brazilian Portuguese dictionary was small and outdated marking common words such as the Portuguese equivalent of rotten and smiling as spelling mistakes. I decided to check out if something could be done to help my friend.

Scrivener 3.0 for Windows uses the popular Hunspell spellchecker which is the same programming library used by other very popular software such as LibreOffice, Firefox, etc. This means that you can pick the dictionary files from one of those softwares and replace the Scrievener one with them. Be aware that these files need to be in the correct format and with the correct filename for this to work as expected.

The dictionary files are located in:

C:\Program Files\Scrivener3\hunspell\dict\

In our specific case, the files were inside:

C:\Program Files\Scrivener3\hunspell\dict\Portuguese-pt-br

I decided to pick the dictionary files from LibreOffice. They are available from their extensions page. This item was the correct one for Brazilian Portuguese.

When you download an extension, it comes with a filename extension ending in .oxt. That is a bit misleading, those files are just normal zip files, you can change the extension from .oxt to .zip and unzip them.

There will be a ton of stuff inside them, but you should see the dictionary files in there. In my case they were:


You can find what files you need by looking at the Scrivener dict folder for your language, as mentioned above.

Now, it is very important that you make a backup of the files you’re replacing, so that you can go back to your old dictionary in case it goes wrong. I simply made a copy of the folder:

C:\Program Files\Scrivener3\hunspell\dict\Portuguese-pt-br

in the Desktop. Then you replace the .acc and .dic files. They won’t work unless they have the correct names. In my case, Scrivener was using pt-BR.dic and pt-BR.aff, notice the dashes, while LibreOffice was using underscores like pt_BR.dic and pt_BR.aff. I renamed the files to match what was originally in the Scrivener folder.

Your folder should look the same as before, but with the dictionary files were replaced.

Then, you launch Scrivener and test it out. If anything goes wrong, replace those files with your backup copy.

In our case it worked like a charm and Brazilian Portuguese spellchecking now works as expected.