Dictionary seems to be several versions ahead of the Apple documentation (2007). I found a good blog post about it, but everything seems different now. I installed Xcode (including the command line tools) but nothing is where it's supposed to be (e.g. /Developer does not get created and there is no Dictionary\ Development\ Kit). I would like to make a pretty complicated dictionary, so I'd like to make this work instead of convert file types several times.


4 Answers 4


Xcode no longer comes with Dictionary Development Kit, but you don't even need Xcode to use it.

  • Register a free developer account and download the auxiliary tools package from developer.apple.com/downloads *It is now called: Additional Tool for Xcode (look for the latest version)
  • Move the Dictionary Development Kit folder to /Applications/Utilities/DictionaryDevelopmentKit/ (without the spaces), and copy the project_templates folder to ~/Desktop/
  • Open ~/Desktop/project_templates/Makefile and change DICT_BUILD_TOOL_DIR from /DevTools/Utilities/Dictionary Development Kit to /Applications/Utilities/DictionaryDevelopmentKit
  • cd ~/Desktop/project_templates/; make && make install

The dictionary should show up in Dictionary.app after you quit and reopen it. After that, try editing MyDictionary.xml or MyDictionary.css. The dictionary name is the same as CFBundleName in the Info.plist, and the bundle name is DICT_NAME in the Makefile.

If the lookup popovers show results from an older version of the dictionary, try logging out and back in. Terminating com.apple.lookupd or removing ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.Dictionary* didn't seem to work.


Here is a step by step procedure for converting dictionaries in open formats to AppleDict source, and compiling for the OSX Dictionary.app: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/119166/66812


Everything that used to be in /Developer is now in Xcode.app/Contents/Developer with Xcode normally in /Applications, but you could put it anywhere in reality.

Other than that, you should be able to pop the dictionary file of your choosing either in the System Dictionary like the blog article you linked or only within Xcode for use to expand its dictionary.

  • I'm trying to create a dictionary, not use other people's. I looked at every single folder under /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents and there is no Dictionary\ Developer\ Kit. I know I need a build_dict.sh . Jan 27, 2013 at 1:28
  • Oops - we are a site for users of programs and not so much for developers. Are you familiar with stackoverflow.com? Be sure you read stackoverflow.com/questions/how-to-ask about how to do research and show code level problems as they tend to rapidly close overly vague "teach me how to X" questions. Let me know if you want this migrated there after reading up on things.
    – bmike
    Jan 27, 2013 at 1:36
  • My apologies I've never used this before. Please close this off! I'll repost it once I read up more! Sorry. Jan 27, 2013 at 1:48
  • 1
    No apologies needed at all. We're here to help - please do come back with more questions that fit our small slice of the stack exchange network. We love answers too if you want to help that way. If you can't self-delete it, just flag that you need help from a moderator (or you can edit it and flag it for migration to Stack Overflow and we can handle it) - if it sits here closed for a while, it hurts nothing.
    – bmike
    Jan 27, 2013 at 1:53
  • 2
    @RobertMarshallMurphy We're going to keep this - I think one of our users will have a good answer as well as has clarified that this is more of a "what format does Apple use" than a "programming" question.
    – bmike
    Jan 27, 2013 at 4:37

I wrote a little java application toDictionaryXML to add entries to a custom dictionary. It is not well coded, the functionality is pretty poor and it is not easy to install. But still it saves me a lot of time.

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