Mac OS X Dictionary Widget Stopped Working!

Some users have reported that the default Apple Dictionary widget stops working after updating their Macs to either Lion (10.7 onwards) or even Mountain Lion (10.8 onwards).

What do we mean by “stopped working”?

You enter your query word into the Dictionary widget text field as you normally would and then – nothing happens, or the widget jiggles around like its constipated. Wants to produce the dictionary meaning for you but for some reason unbeknownst to you, it simply can’t…

Some troubleshooting sites have suggested the atypical ‘go-to-solve-it-all’ methodology of hunting down the related OS X preference file and deleting it. In this case, file which can be found in ~/Library/Preferences/.

Nine out of ten times, for this particular issue at least, the above suggestion does not cure.

Surprisingly, the actual cure is profoundly simple… for an unknown reason the Dictionary widget has ‘compressed’ itself and just needs a little shaking up from us to resume its standard operation.



All that needs to be done is to hover your mouse over the area highlight in red above until the scroll cursor appears, then simply click and drag the scroll cursor downward. Which will reveal the regular text part (yellow notepad like page) of the Dictionary widget.



Once, you have successfully done that, you can attempt to query your first Dictionary word to test the widget’s response. Barring any unexpected hindrance, the Dictionary widget should resume its regular function.

11 Comments on "Mac OS X Dictionary Widget Stopped Working!"

  1. I updated to Sierra and now my dictionary works only with internet, and shows two options: all and wikipedia, rest all have disappeared. Can anyone suggest me anything. Pls email me.

  2. I upgraded to Mac Sierra and now no dictionary is displaying on the dashboard even when the icon is there

  3. You show a picture above your article of the dictionary widget not showing results for Steve Jobs, not a broken collapsed widget window which your article instructs how to fix. My widget is not collapsed… it simply does not find results for searches??? Explain what the fix is for that please.. Jiggling the window handle is not the issue here. Empty returned results is the issue here!!!

  4. I have a new Macbook Air with OS Sierra, when I go to type in the dictionary on dashboard it quickly reverts back to my desktop before I can fully type the word. Anyone else have this issue?

  5. Avatar Fredrick Schmidt | 29 October, 2016 at 10:02 | Reply

    I have the same problem as Lilian Westlin.

  6. I can open the widget and write a word in the search window. There will be a proper definition of the word. But there is no dictionary to choose? I used to have British English and American English as well as their thesauruses. Now there is nothing there. Just an empty brown bar.
    I would greatly appreciate some help with this. Hovering with the mouse doesn’t cut it.
    This changed when updating to the Sierra version.

    • Updated to Sierra and have the same problem, no choices in dictionary and no Thesaurus option

      • Avatar Ellen Stepleton | 24 February, 2017 at 23:14 | Reply

        And again, the same problem. Has a solution been found by this time?

        • Have you tried launching the Dictionary app from the /Applications/ folder. Access the Dictionary app’s Preferences and download/configure the dictionaries of your choice. Once you’ve done that restart your Mac and simply Force Quit the dictionary dashboard process (launch Activity Monitor app in /Applications/Utilities/ and kill “” process. Relaunch the Dictionary widget and it should be functional again.

  7. This worked perfectly. Thanks!

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