I would like to have a way to dynamically add and remove words from the system-wide dictionary in Mountain Lion. The use-case is:

  1. I'm working on a piece of fiction that has a lot of odd names in it that I would like spell-checked -- hit some key-combination that loads those odd name into the dictionary list of known words
  2. I'm done working on the fiction and I no longer want those words polluting my dictionary -- hit some key-combo to unload those words from the dictionary

I could be working on two separate pieces of fiction and would want to load and unload each list separately. I'm not looking for an app with a custom spell-checker; I'm definitely looking for something that works with the built-in, system-wide spell checking sub-system.

All solutions considered: open source, paid applications, AppleScript, Automator, shell scripts -- anything and everything.

1 Answer 1


When you press the Learn button, the word is added to ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary if the language is set to automatic or to ~/Library/Spelling/en if the language is set to U.S. English. en_GB is used for British English and en is used only for U.S. English.

If you edit the files in ~/Library/Spelling/ directly, you can apply the changes by terminating the AppleSpell process.

So try to assign a shortcut to a script like this:

cd ~/Library/Spelling
if [[ -e fiction ]]; then
  mv en normal; mv fiction en; d=fiction
  mv en fiction; mv normal en; d=normal
killall AppleSpell
terminal-notifier -title "Using dictionary $d" -message '' -group spellingdictionary
sleep 3
terminal-notifier -remove spellingdictionary

If for example you use the British English dictionary, change en to en_GB.

You can install terminal-notifier with sudo /usr/bin/gem install terminal-notifier.

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