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I tend to use the dictionary a lot on the mac. Its annoying to launch the app everytime i need to lookup a word. Are there any other apps/hacks to avoid this annoyance? Spotlight lookup is awesome, but doesnt show enough detail. Do you know any app that can provide a panel view for dictionary definitions. For example, launch bar has a nice panel view for its calculator results.

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You might be missing the intent of list views like what is presented in Spotlight. List views are provided by the OS as an easy way to navigate a lot of information in a small space and by extension provide easy navigation to content a user needs. While there are apps that step out of that mold, and Apple doesn't do anything to stop them, it's rare to find devs that are willing to step out of the UI guidelines for them and provide what you are looking for. Asking for it in a specific type of app will make your search even harder. I'm not saying it will be impossible, but it won't be easy. – Philip Regan Mar 25 '11 at 18:21
there, i think my question is better framed now. – c0smikdebris Mar 25 '11 at 19:57
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Try ^++D while selecting a word (that's ctrl+cmd+d). If the app is well integrated into Mac OS X, it will show a little popup with the word definition.

Like so

mac os x dictionary

If you click "More..", it'll open the dictionary app.

If this shortcut doesn't work, go to

System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard shortcuts > Services

and search Look Up in Dictionary to add the shortcut you want.

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Isn't it Ctrl+Cmd+D ? It's how it works here at least. And you don't have to select the word, just put the mouse on it (which you can move afterwards while still holding Cmd+Ctrl) – LudoMC Mar 24 '11 at 20:34
Good catch. Editing now. Thank you. – Loïc Wolff Mar 24 '11 at 21:21
Great feature, but i wish it worked in chrome/firefox. – c0smikdebris Mar 25 '11 at 19:56
For Chrome, you can try… – Loïc Wolff Mar 25 '11 at 20:21
I'm using Dictionary Lookup:(…). Best dictionary extension IMO. – c0smikdebris Mar 25 '11 at 20:55

You can use Alfred which, with the define keyword (configurable), will give you several answers with the first line of the definition. It's as fast as Spotlight (I replaced Spotlight by Alfred) and is much more convenient, complete and easy to use. I'm just delighted. I now use the dictionary a lot while I didn't before for the same reason you're giving.

Here's an example: enter image description here

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Its quite similar to what spotlight does. I wish it showed more than a line, like entries from the thesaurus. – c0smikdebris Mar 24 '11 at 19:56
I prefer it to Spotlight as Spotlight often doesn't even show the full line. Moreover, here you have several answers which helps when you're not sure about the typo. But I understand your needs. As the developer is actively enhancing the tool, it could be a suggestion for a future improvement. – LudoMC Mar 24 '11 at 20:29
Alfred is a cool app. I might just ditch LaunchBar for it one of these days. – c0smikdebris Mar 25 '11 at 19:59
@c0smikdebris I never used LaunchBar but I'm a really happy Alfred's customer (I bought the Powerpack, but the free version is already really cool). No, I don't work for them, I'm just one among many happy users :) Just give it a try and you won't uninstall it ;) – LudoMC Mar 25 '11 at 20:15

"Can i have a dictionary panel instead of launching the whole app?"

In, open the Preferences panel and change the Contextual menu setting from Opens Dictionary application to Opens Dictionary panel:

enter image description here

This will open up the small panel which stays within the same application (like Loic Wolff showed in the image).

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