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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use System 10.4
Tiger only hintWe all know the Dictionary pop-up built into Tiger is excellent. I use it throughout the day, whether to define a word while browsing the web, or to find a synonym in the Thesaurus while writing an email -- which brings me to the cause of this hint. Why did Apple make the keyboard shortcut for accessing the Dictionary (Control-Command-D) so similar to the keyboard shortcut for sending an email in Mail (Shift-Command-D)? After the second time I sent an unfinished (and unedited, i.e. potentially embarrassing) email, I had the idea that changing the keyboard shortcut might be a good idea.

Just go to the Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences panel, and click on the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Scroll down until you see "Look up in Dictionary," and double-click the existing shortcut for that command. Change the shortcut to something you prefer; I happened to pick F7. Now when I need to look up a word, it's just a quick tap of the F7 key away.

There's an unexpected bonus to this change, too. Previously, if you wanted to look up multiple words with the pop-up panel, you'd press and hold Control and Command, then hit D, then move the mouse around (while still holding Control and Command). With this reassignment, there's no need to hold the key down, which makes looking up multiple words easy. F7 seems to toggle "look up mode' on, and then hit F7 again to toggle the Dictionary off when you're done.

[robg adds: I wouldn't normally run a 'redefine a keyboard shortcut' hint, as it's somewhat generic. But the change in behavior when looking up multiple words was worth noting. I thought that I'd still have to hold F7 down to remain in lookup mode, but nope, it's a toggle key now. This is a big timesaver -- I love being able to just pop into a lookup mode, and then back out again. Easier on the fingers, and much faster, too!]
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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use | 34 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: PaulRenegar on Nov 09, '05 07:12:28AM

This is a good hint, now if Apple could make it to where the Dictionary application could be in another folder other than /Applications! I like to organize my program by their type such as Applications, Accessories, Online, Utilities, etc (I'm a Windows convert, and I like this organization :) )



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: b00le on Nov 09, '05 07:54:10AM

As you may have discovered, it's not a good idea to move apps as they may not update properly, among other troubles. But you can use aliases to do this - make your own structure and move aliases of the apps where you want them - now you can ignore the original Applications folder and use your own.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: Bioinformatics on Nov 09, '05 12:20:39PM

You'll find though that almost the only applications that need to be in a fixed locations are Apple's. There is no need to develop software like this and personally I wish Apple would stop setting a bad example. (Long story short, its lazy programming IMO. Admittedly they probably have bigger things to worry about.)



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: adrianm on Nov 09, '05 08:23:40AM

Somewhat offtopic, but surely if you start moving around your installed apps in Windows, you'll get loads of trouble too?



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Re: 10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: Uncle Asad on Nov 10, '05 12:12:07AM

But in Windows you also get to choose where to install the programs to begin with (or at least that used to be the case; I don't touch Windows much), so you can do the organizing at app-install time and not break anything.

It's sad that we're no longer in control of our own disks and applications in the most advanced and user-friendly operating system the world has yet known.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: PaulRenegar on Nov 09, '05 09:06:20AM

Yes, I realize that if I were to move applications around in Windows that it would pretty much kill the machine... which is why we have the Start menu to organize the way we want our applications.

However, in OS X, there is no start menu (excluding the dock) and the only thing I see is the Applications folder to load my applications. So this, in a sense, is my Start menu and I would like to organize them a little differently.

There have only been a few occasions to where if I am upgrading an application that I need to drag it back to the /Applications folder during the update. iTunes, etc, just put the new version in the /Applications folder, to where after the download I can just move it elsewhere.

I'm fairly new to Apple (about 1 year) and why wouldn't they want me to organize my programs so that I can access them (or other programs in the same group) more easily rather than searching through a rather large list of unsorted programs to find what I'm looking for?



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: nicola on Nov 09, '05 10:02:19AM
I'm fairly new to Apple (about 1 year) and why wouldn't they want me to organize my programs so that I can access them (or other programs in the same group) more easily rather than searching through a rather large list of unsorted programs to find what I'm looking for?
Well... ask Apple! ;-)
In the meantime, as moving things from the Applications folder _is_ in fact dangerous (not to mention renaming...), IMHO you may follow a different route:
- Create a folder somewhere (say, in your home/Documents folder); let's say it's called myApps.
- Create all the folders you want/need inside that folder (Applications, Accessories, Online, Utilities...).
- Fill these subfolders with aliases to the various apps.
- Drag the myApps folder to the dock. If you assign a custom icon to the myApps folder, you'll also have a visual clue of its content.

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Favorites folder
Authored by: sjk on Nov 09, '05 10:54:43AM

The ~/Library/Favorites folder was often recommended for storing aliases to apps, etc. but the supportive command-T and shift-command-F shortcuts have changed from "Add to Favorites" to "Add to Sidebar" and from "Go > Favorites" to "Services > Spotlight". And quick access to that folder was also removed from Open/Save dialogs.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: daeley on Nov 09, '05 10:04:45AM

You might want to look into the built-in Spotlight (assuming you're using Tiger 10.4) or downloading QuickSilver. Once you get past the idea of needing to navigate a hierarchy to access something, but instead just launching a program by typing in the first few letters of its name, it feels really constricting to do it any other way. :)



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app launching
Authored by: sjk on Nov 09, '05 11:26:13AM

I agree. Frequent use of hierarchical navigation for application launching is slow and awkward.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: Bioinformatics on Nov 09, '05 12:12:24PM

Yes and no. A hierarchy of apps provides the same benefit that menus does: it reminds you of what apps (options) you can choose from for a particular class of tasks. Working via Spotlight has the same "fault" as command line use of computers: you have to remember the (command/app) names. This is the same basic reasoning people moved to GUIs in the first place...

I prefer the Dock/Hierarchy split with commonly-used apps in the Dock (no hierarchy to negotiate) and a hierarchy of "menus" for the others to remind me of what's available.

I also make use of the fact that you can rename the aliases and generally append the version number of the app to help maintenance.



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[non-]hierarchical access/organization
Authored by: sjk on Nov 10, '05 01:25:19PM
I prefer the Dock/Hierarchy split with commonly-used apps in the Dock (no hierarchy to negotiate) and a hierarchy of "menus" for the others to remind me of what's available.

I prefer a similar personalized "best of" hierarchical and non-hierachical organization/access style, too. Apps with frequent launch/quit cycles are my favorites candidates for the Dock, although I also use it as a "top-level" reminder for a few important items I access less often.

My general recommendation (at least for more novice users) is not to reorganize apps directly in (and out of) the primary Applications folders and instead create desired custom "virtual" organization/access for them using whatever "resources" are required.
                                          .      .      .
On multi-user systems a "personalized virtualization of the shared system environment" often becomes a necessity, or at least a cooperative agreement. It's pretty annoying when location becomes too much of a moving target for some users because other admin users decide to shuffle shared apps/data around for their own "selfish" convenience.

On OS X, understanding and heeding the distinctions and boundaries between system and user "space" helps keep both running healthier. Even with experience that's not always an easy, black/white issue.

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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: Zo-1 on Nov 13, '05 07:25:23PM

After having been thoroughly spoiled by many years on Classic where you could pretty much wrassle that thing to the ground, I've kinda satisfied my lust for app classification by taking full advantage of the Users appplications folder. The main Apps (and Utilities) folder holds all Apple stuff, as well as Office and other behemoths that just kinda sit there . . . and my own apps folder and subfolders actually work just fine. Damn, doesn't Steve know, it goes against the grain to view long lists of unrelated apps, what the heck are folders for. And subfolders, and all the meaning and direction a Mac user takes from the way they structure what's on their disk.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: AndySpry on Nov 09, '05 10:54:17AM

You can also get "Start" menu like behavior using Unsanity's FruitMenu.

I've used it since OS X 10.1 to get back the capabilities of modifying the Apple Menu that disapperared in OS X. Using FruitMenu you can organize folders with application aliases as mentioned above. Then this organized hierarchy of applications (or documents and other folders) becomes part of the pull down Apple menu as it used to be in later versions of the classic Mac OS.

I keep my core applicastions in the dock but I keep most of the rest of the applications I use organized on my Apple menu. I only need to go to the Applications folder to find the more esoteric things like Disk Utility or iSync.

Mac user since 1984 OS 1.0.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: magnamous on Nov 11, '05 01:59:47PM
I used to use FruitMenu, and I rather liked it. But I noticed that the more programs one opens, the more memory FruitMenu takes up. Since then, I've turned to XMenu (scroll to the bottom) and I've grown to really like it. It took some getting used to at first (moving the cursor to the upper-right corner of the screen instead of upper-left), but it's fast, efficient, and I can have as many sub-menus as I want. (Needless to say, it doesn't use up nearly as much RAM as FruitMenu can.)

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Windows-like application moving
Authored by: danieleran on Nov 09, '05 11:23:25AM

In Windows, you can't even view your applications folder by default ( c:/Program Files ). Any "organization" possible in Windows is only within the Start menu, which is just a bunch of shortcuts.

If you want to hyper-organize icons for programs, create a new directory (how about "MY.START" in all caps?), select all your Applications, drag them into your new folder using option+apple to create aliases, then shuffle them around as you like. Now drag your MY.START folder into the Dock.

You now have START menu functionality: deeply nestled folders of icons pointing to programs, which you can change on a whim without affecting how the system works. Plus, like Windows, it will give you that exciting delay as you wait for submenus to pop up.

Unlike Windows' shortcuts, Mac aliases will continue to work even if the originals change. Shortcuts only link by path; aliases link to their originals by inode (the file's unique serial number).



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10.4: Make the App folder easier to use
Authored by: sudont on Nov 10, '05 10:38:06PM

I too used to organize my Apps folder by type prior to OS X. But as you know that really won't work, especially with multiple accounts where non-admin users won't be able to access sub-folders, and of course the update problem. But now, I never even go digging in folders, I use LaunchBar. Now, I simply hit <cmd-space> and type a few letters, say "add" for Address Book, hit <Enter>, and it launches the app. LaunchBar will also find docs, MP3s, URLs, and more. (I should be writing their ad copy) Check it out:
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/2409
You'll have to change the default key combo of Spotlight, though, which is also <cmd-space>. I changed it to F5.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: valmont on Nov 21, '05 01:24:00PM

you can make your own start menu ... sorta, here's how:

- create a folder anywhere, such as on your desktop, name it "Start".
- Then open a new window that shows your apps in /Applications. Hold the "apple" and "option" keys down while dragging an Application's icon onto your "Start" folder. It'll basically create an alias of it. Inside your Start folder feel free to create more folders to further organize your aliases into the categories you mentioned.

Once you're done organizing your "Start" folder, drag it onto the "documents" section of your Dock ... where the trash lives. *gasp*. :)

Once you hold your mouse down, or right-click the Start icon on your Dock, you'll be presented with a hierarchical menu similar to the windows start menu.

A bit clumsy but that might do the trick for you. You can also install some of the 3rd-party stuff mentioned in the thread.

Personally, i've grown accustomed to just using the Dock, without categorization. I find that the spatial organization of icons serves its purpose. I'll know that chat-related apps are off on the left, text-editing stuff is toward the center, etc.

But it can get a bit unwieldy with a lot of apps, and categorization would be nice, indeed.


---
check out highly useless stuff at:
http://www.slashdot.org/~valmont/



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: sjonke on Nov 09, '05 07:35:06AM

Definitely a really nice hint! It greatly improves the dictionary lookup feature.

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--- What?



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: type88 on Nov 09, '05 08:00:16AM

Not five minutes before reading this hint I was thinking that it would be great to be able to change this ridiculous keyboard shortcut.

Thanks.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: mpress25 on Nov 09, '05 08:11:36AM

What a great hint. I, too, was always pressing the wrong combo.

One note though, F7 did not seem to work on my Powerbook. It already has a built-in assignation. It needed a modifier.

But F8 works fine!



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: xhide on Nov 09, '05 08:49:29AM

Same here, can't assign F7 directly on my ibook too, unless fn+F7.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: sap.1 on Nov 09, '05 09:35:03AM

On PowerBooks and iBooks, some of the function keys on the built-in keyboards double as keys that control hardware functions, like screen brightness, sound volume, etc. You can choose whether the hardware controls or the software functions are default. Just go to the Keyboard & Mouse preference, select the Keyboard tab, and check the box "Use F1-F12 keys to control software features". With this box checked, the default behavior of the function keys will be whatever you program them to do (i.e. Expose, Dashboard, Dictionary, etc.). To control hardware functions like screen brightness, you will have to press the Fn key along with the function key.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: simbalala on Nov 09, '05 08:24:24AM

The 10.4.3 update broke the Dictionary contextual menu item and the pop up menu in FireFox. It still works fine in Safari though. I'm not the only one to have noticed this. Does anyone know of a fix?



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Missing in Safari Too (Text Input Only)
Authored by: forman on Nov 09, '05 11:34:35PM

I noticed that the Dictionary contextual-menu entry vanished in the recent upgrade (MacOS 10.4.3 and Safari 2.0.2) in text area input boxes (such as the one I'm typing into now). Has anyone else seen this?

The spell check correction recommendations have also vanished from the contextual menu in Safari.



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Solved
Authored by: forman on Nov 10, '05 09:33:05AM

It turns out that the broken contextual menus in TextArea boxes in Safari 2.0.2 are due to a bug in the new plugin Saft that I have installed. It's not a problem with Safari.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: musclemuscle on Nov 09, '05 09:53:28AM

Before reading this hint, I changed my hotkey, too. :)
At first, I also changed it to F1,F2,F3....
But because I used XKey app, so it will not work, or have to do some complicated changes.

Then, I changed to "Ctrl"+"`" <-----(the key below the Esc)
This also make one advantage.

When you looked up a word, then you want to go back to the original program.
You just have to move a little to use the "Alt+Tab" hotkey.
Then you're back to the original one.
It's really timesaving, isn't it? :)

Have fun to look up in a Dictionary!



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: tracemeek on Nov 09, '05 10:14:16AM

Even nicer would be a system-wide contextual menu item (would this be a finder plugin?) to "define (selected_word)," similar to the "Search the Web for (selected_word)" we have in Firefox.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: robg on Nov 09, '05 10:40:49AM

Ummm, it's there. At least in Cocoa apps, and certain Carbon apps, it is. Control-click the word, choose Look up in Dictionary.

-rob.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: gidds on Nov 09, '05 03:35:16PM
Well, personally, my Dictionary and Thesaurus would be safer and easier to use if they used the same language as the rest of my system! I know many of you use the US variant of English, but I don't... [fx: grump grump grump]

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Andy/

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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: Bioinformatics on Nov 10, '05 12:00:57AM

I agree and its a bit bizzare given Apple's usual good standards in international support. When I heard of Dictionary I thought "great", but on trying it just once, I've never used it since...

A lot of the British variants <em>are</em> in there somewhere, just not "up front". Either they are buried in the American equivalent's entry, or the program brings up a "did you mean" alternative with the American spelling (so its obvious aware of them).

Given there are list provided of American/British English differences (on the 'net and in any good style guide), it wouldn't have been hard for them to have done better.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: zxspectrum on Nov 11, '05 05:50:35PM


does anyone knows how to change the window size/font/color??

Thanks,
zx



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: PanicRoom on Nov 15, '05 12:52:24AM

A great tip. Shame it doesn't work in OmniWeb.



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10.4: Make the Dictionary safer and easier to use
Authored by: solipsism on Jan 22, '06 10:03:07AM

Great hint! This has been working great for months now.



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