I'm repeatedly being asked to download the "Apple Dictionary" when I open the dictionary application.

Dictionary application needs to download dictionary "Apple Dictionary" before use.

This doesn't happen every time I open it. I haven't pinned down specific usage cases where this message appears, but I think it may be every time after I reboot my computer.

Is there anyway for the Dictionary application to remember that I have "Apple Dictionary" permanently? This has only started happening after I upgraded from OS X Mountain Lion to macOS Sierra.

screenshot of dictionary message

  • I'm running Sierra. When I first setup dictionary I selected Oxford Dictionary. Whenever I open dictionary it works fine. I even get a selection box at top to switch between Oxford, Apple, a Thesaurus, and Wikipedia. I don't know if choosing Oxford made a difference or not.
    – Natsfan
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


The Apple Support article “How to free up storage space on your Mac” mentions:

Other ways that macOS helps automatically save space

macOS Sierra and later automatically takes these additional steps to save storage space:

  • Detects duplicate downloads in Safari, keeping only the most recent version of the download
  • Reminds you to delete used app installers
  • Removes old fonts, languages, and dictionaries that aren't being used
  • Clears caches, logs, and other unnecessary data when storage space is needed

While the article says “dictionaries that aren't being used”, I have the impression even recently used dictionaries get deleted if free drive space gets low.

I find this “feature” terribly annoying, as I’ve already found myself unable to consult Dictionary.app a few times while offline, but I’m not aware of any way to turn it off.


When you open the Dictionary app, you can go to Preferences under the Dictionary menu. There you can select which dictionary to use and the order to use them. Be sure to check the box of the dictionaries you want to use.

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