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How to place Dictionary definitions higher up in spotlight results

If so, how?

I happen to use Spotlight a lot for looking up definitions. Basically, I'll be reading or writing, find a word I want to know the definition of, press Cmd+Space type it up and then... I'll have to move my hand to the mouse and drag it over to hover over the "Look Up" section in spotlight for the popup to appear.

Look Up in Spotlight

I would really enjoy doing this with the keyboard only. If "Look Up" was the first or amongst the first results in Spotlight, I could just press the down key to get to it. So I head over to System Preferences and find the following:

Spotlight Preferences

A complete lack of the "Look Up" element! Is there any way to move "Look Up" higher in Spotlight? Or some way to get to the result using the keyboard? Thanks in advance for your time!


1 Answer 1


You might consider Alfred for your searches. It's not only an improvement over Spotlight for local searches (using Spotlight indexes) because it learns your frequent searches, it's extremely malleable.

Here's Alfred's preference pane that shows control of searches that use OS X's built in dictionary:

Alfred config screen

Here's what it looks like to search for a word. You can set Alfred up to come up with Command/Space or you can keep Spotlight active and bring it up with an alternative like Option/Space.

In my case, I type Option/Space and the word "define" and then the word I want to define (which I've left blank here). You can see the Dictionary comes up in the search results by default because "define" triggers it:

Alfred search screen

Alfred is a spectacular product and it's quite stable and free (you do not need the Power Pack extension to look up words). I think it will solve the lookup problem and become useful to you for many other things.

  • Very well written and complete answer man! I have had Alfred before, and used the dictionary and calculator functions quite a bit... but stopped using it after a while. If I find no other solution I might as well go back to it. Anyways, for now, here is a well deserved upvote :) Thanks for your time
    – kevin9794
    Nov 23, 2012 at 6:55

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