MacOS – Quickly translate a word from English


I'm always reading English, but I'm a Spanish native speaker (I'm working on my thesis). Sometimes I need to translate a word into Spanish, and what I do now is to open a new tab and go to Google Translate and then put the word into the input field. Just a quick translation, one word or a small phrase.

I'm a Mac and Firefox user. Is there a better way to achieve this? I was thinking that maybe a dashboard widget would do the trick and I was looking for one. The other option is to install the Google Toolbar, but I really hate toolbars. I don't know, a good Firefox extension maybe?

Best Answer

  • You could look for additional dictionaries for use in (included with OS X). Just like my Wikipedia dictionary (don't know if it came with the vanilla OS X installation) loads data from the web, so could your translation service. It seems to be not possible to enhance the Cmd-Ctrl-D "quick dictionary" with such a custom dictionary, though.

    You can enable debugging/developer mode for Dashboard which allows you to drag widgets out of the "Dashboard view" onto the normal desktop, so you always have the widget visible.

    You can look into creating a custom Text service for the Services menu (select a word in the browser and look under Application -> Services -> Text. In System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Services you can even set keyboard shortcuts for such commands.

    The custom service can be easily created using, I just tried:

    • Create a new Automator document based on the "Service" workflow
    • Add a single action: Run Shell Script with the input passed as arguments, and the command open$1 (or whatever website you use for translating)
    • Save as Translate to German (in my case it's German)
    • (Optionally) Assign a keyboard shortcut in System Preferences
    • Use it
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