Dictionary app for Mac

How to Use the Dictionary While Working in PDFpen

It happens to the best of us: one minute we’re reading a PDF effortlessly; the next, we’re stuck on a word we don’t know or fully understand. When that happens, we don’t have to find and open the Dictionary app. We can look up words on Mac without leaving PDFpen.

Didn’t know you could look up words on Mac while working on other apps? You’re not alone! Now that you do know, we’ll show you how to find the meaning of words in a PDF from within the PDF so you can quickly resume your reading.

Does PDFpen have an inbuilt dictionary? 

PDFpen does not have a built-in dictionary. Instead, our PDF editor supports inbuilt dictionary lookup. That means that they integrate with the dictionary app you have installed on your Apple device, also known as Dictionary for macOS.

A little about Dictionary for macOS, or Apple’s dictionary app

Dictionary for mac icon

The Dictionary app for Mac gives you easy access to definitions of words and phrases, sourced from the Oxford Dictionary of English and other sources, such as Wikipedia.

Did you know?

  • Dictionary ignores spelling mistakes. Provided what you type in the search field vaguely resembles the word you’re after, Dictionary will find it for you.
  • Almost every word in it is clickable. That means you can click any word in an entry to go to its entry. You can do this ad infinitum, which is an adverb meaning again and again in the same way; forever.
  • You can add more sources. If you go to Dictionary > Preferences, you’ll find additional references, such as the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus and dictionaries in languages other than English.
  • You don’t need to be in Dictionary to use Dictionary. As we said earlier, you can access the Dictionary while working in an app or browsing a webpage.

For a history of the Dictionary app, check out the article Apple’s Dictionary is cooler than you think.

How to look up words on Mac while working in PDFpen

Now, here’s how to look up the meaning of a word in a PDF document without leaving PDFpen or PDFpenPro.

  1. In PDFpen, select a word or phrase in the PDF, then Control-click. 
  2. Choose Services > Look Up in Dictionary.

See it action:

How to look up the meaning of a word without leaving PDFpen

Why use this method for looking up words on Mac

Most of us who use this method of looking up words on Mac do so because it’s convenient — it spares you the effort of typing — and it saves you a little time. 

Here at Smile, we’ll do anything to minimize effort and maximize productivity — we invented TextExpander, after all — so we choose this method over opening the Dictionary app and typing up words any day.

If you liked learning how to access the Dictionary from PDFpen, you may also enjoy learning how to Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts in PDFpen.