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Use Term.ly As A Dictionary Pop-Up on OS X

Use Term.ly As A Dictionary Pop-Up on OS X

Earlier this week, Gabe of Macdrifter shared a great tip to use Term.ly, the dictionary service, as a pop-up to get definitions on OS X without opening the Term.ly website in the browser. His method requires building an Automator service that uses the “Website popup” action to display web contents inside a floating window, optionally using an iPhone resolution to get the mobile website.

I created an Automator service that allows me to select some text and then pop open the Term.ly definition as a small pop-over panel. I can then select a word in Term.ly and it will replace the selected word in my document and add the new term to my clipboard.

I like Term.ly because it’s easy to use, yet the content is focused and in-depth. For instance, the service will offer you “more specific” or “less specific” alternative words to choose from, and if it “understands” the word you’re passing along, say “tree”, it’ll also display options for “made of” (wood) and “member of” (forest). It’s really clever.

Gabe mentions it’s also possible to call the service using Launchbar. If you, like me, use Alfred instead, you can set up an extension that looks up words using Gabe’s workflow, as you can see in the screenshot above.

Term.ly is run by Agile Tortoise, which also happens to make two of my favorite iOS apps – Drafts and Terminology.