The reason is trivial: I am a fan of the "Word of the Day" screen saver and I would like to add dictionaries for languages other than English and Japanese (these are the two that I can select now in screen saver options).
How can I do it?
If you have 10.8, you can enable French, German, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish dictionaries from the preferences of Dictionary.app:
They don't seem to be shown as choices for the Word of the Day screensaver though:
I also tried restarting after enabling the dictionaries.
On a rather obscure comment thread, someone explained where you might find the word list that Apple uses to power the screensaver. It is at
It is a list of tab-separated entries. On the right you have the word, and on the left, what looks like an ID. But what's it an ID for, and how would you be able to find it for another word not already on the list?
As you might expect, the ID refers to an entry in Apple's default dictionary, the "New Oxford American Dictionary". (That's what "NOAD" stands for in the word-list path above.)
How to find the IDs for other words?
A fellow named Joseph Gentle, in a series of blog posts, shows how to get at the data underlying Apple's dictionaries. In his "Apple dictionaries, part 2" post, he points to code that unpacks the relevant binary file (stored in
I wrote the following Ruby script to parse the XML, and then, using my own word list, create a new screensaver file that maps my own words to their IDs in the dictionary:
When I replaced the original screensaver file with this new one, it worked. You can now have a "Word of the Day" screensaver that gives definitions for the words you choose.
This should solve your problem: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/easily-expanding-apple-dictionary-–-mac-only/
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