Until recently (although I'm not sure how recent), macOS shipped Dictionary.app with dictionary definitions built in.

As of macOS Mojave, this is no longer the case. The first time you open Dictionary.app, you are prompted to download definitions from the internet.

How can I transfer a copy of these definitions to a fully offline computer? I can't seem to figure out where they are stored.

A way to capture the original .pkg file from Apple's servers (assuming this is how the downloads are distributed) would also be an acceptable answer.

Update 10/11/18:

Per answers below, I now know that dictionaries are stored as .dictionary files in /System/Library/Assets/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices. However, moving them to this folder on a new machine does not cause them to be recognized in Dictionary.app.

Interestingly, if you open one of these .dictionary files in Dictionary.app, you get a message saying the dictionary could not be imported, because the "folder" format is not supported. Which begs the question, what format would be supported...

  • do not copy the folder, just the Dictionary file it self.
    – Ruskes
    Oct 14, 2018 at 19:12
  • @Buscar웃 That's what I'm doing! Although it should be noted, these files appear to be like .app's, folders with a special extension which Finder displays as files. Oct 14, 2018 at 19:23
  • OK, one more try, right click on the .dictionary file and click on show package content, now copy the Resources Folder .... (without the Plist)
    – Ruskes
    Oct 14, 2018 at 19:43
  • @Buscar웃 To where? Remember, the offline Mojave computer has zero dictionaries installed by default, so it's not obvious where to replace it. Oct 15, 2018 at 23:21

5 Answers 5


They are located in (HighSierra)

Aside from this, you will find packaged dictionaries here:


there is also the words file here /usr/share/dict/words

User specific Dictionaries are stored here /System/Library/Assets/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices (based on your Language and Keyboard selection), here is mine, so if you have chosen Polish it will be there.


copy and paste in to Finder GoTo

Do not copy the Folder, just the dictionary it self.

  • On my machine, ~/Library/Spelling/LocalDictionary is a 0kb file. ~/Library/Dictionaries/ was the first thing I tried, and doesn't seem to contain the downloaded dictionaries. Sep 27, 2018 at 20:41
  • @Wowfunhappy you are on Mojave, I am reporting from HighSierra
    – Ruskes
    Sep 27, 2018 at 20:46
  • I'm actually experiencing the same thing on High Sierra! (The High Sierra machine is not a new install, and I thus can't remember if I originally had to download the dictionaries or if they came prepackaged.) Sep 27, 2018 at 20:54
  • there are so many dictionaries, for example the Apple Dictionary is in ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Dictionary
    – Ruskes
    Sep 27, 2018 at 21:43
  • Open Dictionary app and select preferences to see all the Dictionaries that came pre installed with the OSX
    – Ruskes
    Sep 27, 2018 at 22:07

Now in MacOS Catalina the folder is apparently /System/Library/AssetsV2/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionaryOSX. There's also another folder called /System/Library/AssetsV2/PreinstalledAssetsV2/InstallWithOs/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionaryOSX that might contain the dictionaries as well.

To make the dictionaries work with Dictionary.app, the manifest com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionaryOSX.xml in the folder is apparently crucial. It records the correct folder names for each dictionary.

  • Thank you! Did you manage to actually test moving dictionaries to another computer? Not in a position to try it at the moment, but would like to know that it's doable! Odd/unfortunate that they put the dictionaries in the read-only System partition. Does that also mean the partition gets modified when dictionaries are downloaded...? Jan 21, 2020 at 16:42
  • The more I think about it... this can't be right, can it? I thought the point of the system partition is that under normal use, it only gets modified by OS updates. Jan 21, 2020 at 19:31
  • Some dictionaries cannot be selected (it's automatically opt out when I clicked), do you know how to solve this problem?
    – Raining
    Jan 22, 2020 at 5:54

On my computer running High Sierra 10.13.6, one of the dictionaries I was presented with was called: "New Oxford American Dictionary". I did a global search on my computer for that name and I got a hit on this name: New Oxford American Dictionary.dictionary. It is located in:

/System/Library/Assets/com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionaryOSX/975b56580ea4bbbe1d29ca14a3b5e1a81411c787.asset/AssetData/New Oxford American Dictionary.dictionary.

I don't know if this is what you're looking for but its the only hit I got on the dictionary name. Another one of my dictionaries is located similarly. Maybe these dictionaries were written to that location after selecting them for use. I dont know.


This seems to be still unanswered. In Catalina, in the Dictionary app choose File > Open Dictionary folder (which is ~/Libraries/Dictionaries btw). Copy .dictionary files to this folder, restart Dictionary app. New dictionaries should be now selectable in the preferences, and also show up in the triple / long click "select-a-word-and-show-me-the-definition" (which often doesn't happen in my case since English-Finnish and vice versa dictionaries have so few words, so make sure your dictionary is good enough).


You may also find self-installed dictionary from the path:

File extension: .dictionary

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