OS X: The Three-Finger Tap & Opening the Dictionary

| TMO Quick Tip

An astute TMO contributor (who didn't want to be identified) has pointed out that you can use the three-finger dictionary lookup gesture under 10.7 and later to actually launch the Dictionary program, which’ll let you view the entire definition or even the Wikipedia entry of a word. I think that’s groovy! Let’s check it out.

So as Jeff Gamet mentioned last year, you can use your trackpad to tap a word with three fingers (or three-finger double-tap under Lion) to get a quick definition.

Here I’ve opened the pop-up, but I can’t see the entire thing because it’s been cut off. What to do? Well, I can click on the definition text itself, and the window will expand to show more details.

But as the aforementioned awesome reader noted, the headers within the pop-up are actually clickable, and when you do that, you’ll bop right into the Dictionary program to view the entire article.

Nifty! Now, if the three-finger tap (or double-tap) thing isn’t working for you at all, make sure it’s enabled under System Preferences> Trackpad> Point & Click.

Also, here’s another tip on this feature. If you wanna enable different dictionaries (or stop Wikipedia from appearing on the pop-up at all, say), you do that within the Dictionary program’s Preferences.

Once you toggle Wikipedia off as I've done, the three-finger pop-up won’t show it at all. Heck, if you want to see nothing but the definition, turn everything else off within that same Preferences window. That'll lead to some clean pop-ups, let me tell you.

Feeling especially crazy? Then you can also drag the items in that Preferences list into a different order, so that the three-finger pop-up shows a thesaurus first, for example. 

On an unrelated note, doesn't "three-finger pop-up" sound like the name of a rude gesture you'd make at someone you don't like? It totally does. I promise I'll never make the three-finger pop-up at you, dear readers.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

Great tip! I give it three thumbs up.

vpndev

This works with most apps but not all. I think that it requires the app to be using Cocoa - which most do.

Melissa Holt

Thank you, Lee. :D

And vpndev, I appreciate the clarification!

davidneale

Here’s a three-finger tap on Melissa Holt (the written variety, of course):

“Melissa Holt (born 11 December 1976) is a racing cyclist from New Zealand.”

Lee Dronick

Is that you Melissa!

Melissa Holt

That is totally me. I’m a combo IT geek/racing cyclist.

That’d be totally badass, actually!

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