Dictionary.app’s Unfortunate Typeface

Posted on Jun 15, 2015 in Nerdery | 4 Comments

I write often for work and make constant use of Apple’s Dictionary app1 on my Mac. Every single time I open the program, I’m surprised at the typeface and treatment chosen for normal body text.

The typeface is Baskerville, in bold weight, for almost every hierarchy of text in an entry—an unfortunate visual experience for the user. I’d love to know the reasoning, or lack thereof, behind this choice. I asked my close friend John Saddington2, who develops apps for Mac and knows more about Apple than anyone I know, what he thought and his response was, “Apple probably doesn’t care about that app.”

I agree, but it is a bit disappointing to see the devil in the details at such a design-centric company. Either that or I’m the only one still using Dictionary.app, which is the more likely case.

Nerd bonus

For the workflow nerds out there, Alfred (a Spotlight-replacing search tool for OS X) has Dictionary support built in. Simply open Alfred with your shortcut and type “define”, then the word you want to look up, and enjoy lightening-quick access to the definition.


1. Read more details than you ever wanted to know about Apple’s Dictionary app on Wikipedia.2. You can read more about John Saddington on his blog.

4 Comments

  1. Matt Stein
    June 29, 2015

    You’re not alone. It drives me nuts as well and that’s how I ended up here. You can apparently view Dictionary.app’s package contents and edit the supporting stylesheet—it’s just a web view—but I don’t know how much I want to hack around at it.

    Edit: good news! https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5949480?tstart=0

    Reply
    • Eric Dodds
      July 7, 2015

      Matt, you are a gentleman and scholar. And, your Google skills fared much better than mine on this one. I considered hacking the package contents as well, but tinkering with that stuff can take you down a path you don’t necessarily want to travel. Thank you so much for posting this workaround!

      Also, sorry for the delayed reply. For some reason Disqus email notifications were flagged as spam.

      Reply
      • Matt Stein
        July 7, 2015

        Ha, thanks Eric! I’m glad we both have less ugly to deal with, and I appreciate the note.

        Reply
    • Eric Dodds
      July 7, 2015

      Also, for good measure, I blogged about the fix: http://ericdodds.com/dictionary-app-typeface-fix/

      Thanks again, Matt.

      Reply

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