How to: Add extra dictionaries to OS X and iWork

How to: Add extra dictionaries to OS X and iWork

cocoAspell for MacWorking on a Mac is a breeze: iWork is fast and easy to use, as well as being packed with features. My version (and I suppose, all the others) also came with 14 built-in dictionaries, enabling me to perform spell checks in multiple languages. But what if the language you need to check isn’t included? No problem. Installing new dictionaries is simple and will take you about two minutes. Here’s how to do it:

First, you need to download and install cocoAspell, a free and open-source graphical interface for ‘Aspell’. Basically, this will take over spell check duties from your Mac’s built-in utility. This is great, but not only because it’ll allow you to add new dictionaries: cocoAspell also boasts a smarter, more advanced suggestion system than your Mac’s spelling APIs.

Once cocoAspell is set up, you’ll need to get hold of dictionary files for your chosen language. This bit’s a little more complicated:

  1. Visit the Aspell dictionaries FTP site
  2. Open the folder corresponding to your language’s standard two letter code (e.g. EN for English or CA for Catalan).
  3. Select a file that looks like:
    aspell6-ca-20040130-1.tar.bz2 – as a rule of thumb, try do download a file beginning ‘aspell6’ over ‘aspell5’ and ‘aspell5’ over just ‘aspell’.
  4. Save the file to your Mac and unpack it.
  5. Copy the resulting folder to
    /Library/Application Support/cocoAspell/
  6. Following our example, you’ll now have a folder called
    /Library/Application Support/cocoAspell/aspell6-ca-20040130-1
  7. Open System Preferences -> cocoAspell and select your dictionary.

Once you’ve completed this installation, restart your Pages or Textedit application and you’ll find your new dictionary added in the available languages list. Job done!

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