I've been unable to use my Dictionary App for a few days, as it consistently says that it is downloading the dictionaries. I can't find out why it started downloading them again (it already had them), or how to check on the state of a download, or where it is downloading from. I am at a loss as to how to diagnose this. Any ideas?

2 Answers 2


I've experienced this problem once in a while, and find that it's due to the DictionaryServiceHelper process freezing. To fix it, first I quit Dictionary, and then I open a terminal and type:

pkill -9 DictionaryServiceHelper

Yes, you really do need to send the dangerous SIGKILL (signal 9) in this case.

If you're not a command line person, you can alternatively open Activity Monitor, search for DictionaryServiceHelper, and force quit it.


This kept happening to me too, again with the recent update to 10.13.4. In dictionary preferences, I had selected multiple dictionaries. Turning them off, restarting the app, and turning them back on resolved the issue.

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