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ATPM 6.06
June 2000

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Review: MacDICT 1.3.6

by Brooke Smith, bsmith@atpm.com

good

Company: Bains Software

Web: http://bains.hypermart.net/

Price: free

Requirements: Internet access

The days of thumbing through the dictionary in search of a word’s precise spelling and meaning may be over—well, over for Mac users, that is. The latest in online information is MacDICT. Designed by Navdeep Bains, MacDICT is a dictionary, translator, word matcher, and word searcher all in one. This neat little program allows you access to the many databases that are available online. The program doesn’t expire, and it doesn’t even cost (although if you’ve got some cash to spare, it wouldn’t hurt to show your appreciation).

MacDICT is easy to use. You just need Internet access and you’re set. You don’t even need to open the browser window. Just click on MacDICT in the Finder and get the meaning of salubrious, or find out the medical definition for halitosis in the On-line Medical Dictionary.

Here’s how MacDICT works: Define (Command-D) allows you to look up word meanings in the online databases. I looked up computer geek (with no offense to computer users) and got the following:

md-definition

Match (Command-M) works in much the same way as Define. Type in a word or words, and MacDICT will find a word or words that match your query.

md-match-shareware

If you want to Translate words and common phrases into different languages you have two options with MacDICT. You can choose Translate (Command-T) or BabelFish (Command-B). Both of these options are in the File menu under Translate.

md-babelfish

I thought I’d give BabelFish a go, and typed in “I love my Mac.” In Spanish it became Amo mi Mac; in German it was Ich Liebe meinen Mac, but in French it was translated as J’aime mon imper. I don’t know why imper replaced Mac, but c’est la vie.

Finally, Search (Command-E) allows you to search for a word or term from many different databases-from Roget’s Thesaurus to the Bible, from the Birdwatcher’s Dictionary to the Dictionary of Cell & Molecular Biology. Just type the word in the search window and choose which site MacDICT should search. Here’s an example:

Enter your search term and choose a site:

md-jehovah-1

MacDICT returns a list of relevant passages:

md-jehovah-2

After clicking on a passage:

md-jehovah-3

MacDICT is very useful program. It’s easy if you compose or “write” at the computer (as I usually do). It’s easy just to get online and get the definition. However, I can’t say MacDICT will replace the dictionary—especially if you still believe (as I do) in the strength of the written word. Besides, I’m not going to uncurl from my couch and bound to my computer just to “look up” the meaning of pelorus. But I won’t jump to conclusions too quickly; I guess it depends which is faster—your thumbs or your modem...

appleCopyright ©2000 Brooke Smith, bsmith@atpm.com. Reviewing in ATPM is open to anyone. If you’re interested, write to us at reviews@atpm.com.

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