Where does Scrivener store its User Dictionary?


I own a license of Scrivener for Mac. I am evaluating the windows version (both on my laptop as well as my home desktop)

Now, while I am asking Scrivener to learn quite a lot of spellings (names of local places, some exotic words in English, names of people and items), I seem to have trouble when I work some on the desktop, then shift to laptop, and back.

Is there any way for me to copy or zip up the user dictionary where I have asked Scrivener to learn spellings as then transfer it as a file across the machines?

It would also be great if I could know where this dictionary is stored on the Mac too. I have Mac OS X Lion.

Thanks and any replies appreciated.

Regards - Zubin Garda

Yes, this file is located in your AppData\Local\Scrivener\Scrivener folder: ‘wordslists.ini’. This is just a basic .ini file, so you can even keep it automatically synchronised between multiple machines if you use such software.

As for the Mac version, it uses the standard OS X spelling service, so this .ini file will not be directly compatible with the Mac’s user dictionary file—and additionally that is a global file, so if you want (or don’t mind) character names being accepted all throughout the Mac, then it is okay to update.

Speaking as a professional fantasy writer who has been using word processors for almost thirty years, one thing I have never seen but would very much like to see and would probably be simple to do, is to allow for multiple dictionaries.

To explain, I write fantasy. It’s occasionally useful to include fantasy names in the dictionary, but only for a certain work or series. For example, if I have the kingdom of Imaginaria and the Grand Wizard Itotallymadethisnameup (Itot for short), I want all their names in the dictionary. But not for the next document which is set in another world than Imaginaria.

Likewise, sometimes it happens that, after being badgered by a spellchecker with an overly small vocabulary, you accidentally tell it to add a word to the dictionary that actually should not have gone in.

I remember, back in the days of nroff and vi on my college Unix machines, being able to edit the dictionaries for ispell and mspell, and even do the same thing in DOS with the Wordperfect piggyback program called Websters which wonderfully came with the entire dictionary from the old public domain Victorian-age Webster’s Dictionary, including the supplementary dictionaries of characters from literature, scripture, and mythology. This last feature made it so that you could have Miss Euryale Mehitabel Fezziwig and the spell check wouldn’t bat an eye. No spellchecker I’ve seen since works as well, which is really sad given that we’re talking twenty years of computer improvement.

So anyway, the functionality I’d really like to see is multiple supplementary dictionaries, and moreover the ability to edit and review the contents of those dictionaries. If the Sorceress Placeholdera is now just the Sorceress Placea, I don’t need Placeholdera to remain in my personal supplementary dictionary.

Also, if you could raid the old Webster’s program for its public domain dictionary word list, that would be even better. Miss Euryale Mehitabel Fezziwig is tired of her name having all the red underlines.

Among its many other virtues, Nota Bene does include multiple editable spelling dictionaries – editable using a dialog within the program, or editable as text files. You can switch spelling dictionaries as you need to (though you can’t use two different ones at the same time, I don’t think).

Moreover, you can create replacement words using deliberate misspellings. I.e., type Itot and the spell-checker will expand this to Itotallymadethisnameup, once you’ve told it to do so. That may be fairly common these days, but another less common feature of NB is the ability to create “phrase libraries” containing anything from a word you commonly use and don’t want to type all the time up to fully formatted boilerplate. E.g., type Shift+Alt+B and have Beulah the Queen of the Cosmic Import/Export Fairies inserted into your text, or type Shift+Alt+C and insert the standard 15-page contract you use your marketing power to foist onto groveling publishers. Each library can have 35 phrases, and you can have as many different libraries as you want – one for each fantasy world for instance.

I’ve mentioned NB here before, and others have rightly pointed out that it’s expensive for a word processor. I can only say in defense that it does things in multiple living and dead languages that other word processors don’t, and includes research and writing tools beyond just word processing.

Thanks for the note on Nota Bene. I’m glad they had a trial version to put through its paces, because yargh, what a cludgey monstrosity.

I looked at the supplemental dictionary feature. There were some presets, which was good, but I wanted a few more. So I told it to create one called “poetic diction.” It complained about that, evidently not able to create one, possibly because it was the demo, but maybe it was just bad programming.

So I hit the x in the corner, deciding to restart. I had just pasted a large swatch of poetry with complex diction in to test it, I should add. It obviously was using the same castrated weaksauce business correspondence dictionary all of the word processors have been using save the old Webster’s program, which was disappointing, but not unexpected.

What was unexpected was that the program just closed. No “Would you like to save your document?” query. Neither was there an automatic backup program to catch the unsaved file to show it to you in case you didn’t mean to hit X, or the cat hit it, or there was a power failure, or all sorts of things that really happen with computers.

Um…no. Seriously, no.

I hope Scrivener can incorporate features for multiple editable dictionaries, since those are useful for writers, but after that demo, I wouldn’t use Nota Bene even if it were freeware.

I’m sorry you had a bad experience with NB, Kevin. I’m not going to get into a big discussion about it here, but I will say that having used the program for 25 years or so, and written several books and numerous essays with it, that’s not its usual behavior. It normally does ask to save a document before closing, and it does have autosave (the default is 2 minutes). If you want to try to sort it out, send me a private message; if not, I’m just sorry it wasted your time.

No problem. Went to private messages.

Hi Amber
think you may have a typo
when I couldn’t find wordslist.ini
I tried a few variations, found it with wordlists.ini

Okay, thanks. :slight_smile:

I like that idea, that old Webster’s program must be great. Very useful, indeed.

To me, it seems a lot simpler to right-click on the word and say “add to dictionary”
I do it with unusual names, slang, etc. Takes zero time.

I am not aware of any "AppData’ folder and it doesn’t show up in Go > Go to Folder. I could not find it in Application Support or anywhere else where I would normally look or such things. Would this be a Windows location rather than Mac?

This is the Windows forum, and it seems you’re using a Mac, and yes, it is a Windows location.

Look in ~/Library/Dictionaries/CoreDataUbiquitySupport and explore further. But I don’t suppose anything is editable in a normal way—I find I have multiple ‘UserDictionary.db’ instances in nested ‘Container Stores’, no doubt the result of the many, many system upgrades my machine(s) have gone through!



I did I search of my entire C drive --nothing called “wordslists.ini”

You shouldn’t have to search (which may very well exclude hidden folders such as AppData), I gave the path directly to the file. :slight_smile:

not there

Referring back to 2013, in this post, you did mention it is “wordlist.ini”, not “wordlists.ini”. But since you’ve gone right to the folder I’m guessing there is nothing like that there.

Are you using the beta? I noticed in my quick test with it, there appears to be issues with learning words (issues as in the file doesn’t get written so they only stay learned for a session).

I didn’t know Scrivener has a beta, so no. I’m still on
I checked again. search did not reveal wordlists.ini

That’s where I’m finding the file, using 1.9.7. I needed to show hidden files to see it.

Although, please note the file name is wordlists.ini.

I found it once I enabled " show hidden files"