Three-Fingered Tap on a Word Summons a Dictionary & Wikipedia in OS X

Jun 20, 2011 - 13 Comments

Three Fingered Tap in Lion for a Dictionary

Applying a three-fingered tap on any word in a modern Mac app brings up a pop-up dictionary, thesaurus, and even a Wikipedia entry on that word. If the summary isn’t enough information, you can select to read more directly from the QuickLook-esque popup.

This is a students dream, but it should be useful to anyone reading things on the web or elsewhere when they run into a word they want some more information on, whether it be just a simple definition or the entire Wikipedia backed entry on a topic. Yet another reason to upgrade to a new version of OS X!

Encyclopedic pop-ups appear to work on any Mac with a multitouch trackpad and in all native OS X Cocoa apps – Safari, TextEdit, Pages, etc – it’s probably an OS-level feature that developers can include in their apps too.

Three Fingered tap shows a dictionary in Mac OS X Lion

This feature was introduced with the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, but it continues to work the same in OS X Mountain Lion, and OS X Mavericks or beyond.

For some background, OS X Lion was released to the public in Summer ’11.

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Posted by: AJ in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Sue Dunham says:

    Snow Leopard – double click, right click = Search Google for that word.

  2. James says:

    Leopard / Snow Leopard already does this, just not with the “three-fingered tap”.

    Hold down Control + ⌘ and hit “D”.

    What’s next? An eight-finger + elbow tap to launch TimeMachine? LOL

  3. Apprentice says:

    Ha! James, I like your sense of humor. :)

  4. James says:

    Thanks! ;-P

  5. Mark says:

    Will somebody please tell Steve Jobs that not everyone has dexterous fingers to do all this gestures movements stuff.

    I don’t want a damn trackpad, or trackpad on a mouse (Magic Mouse) I just want a mouse with buttons that works.

    For godsake an iMac or Mac Pro is NOT a laptop.

  6. Crissy says:

    You really saved my skin with this ifnoratimon. Thanks!

  7. […] should be familiar to Mac users, where a very similar feature is in OS X Lion, which summons a dictionary with a three-fingered word […]

  8. […] you can immediately access a dictionary definition by three-finger tapping on a single word in Mac OS X or double-tapping in iOS, the Mac also provides another instant dictionary option: […]

  9. […] individual definitions are easier to find by hovering over a word with the cursor and performing a three-fingered tap to define […]

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