You might know that there are multiple ways to access the Dictionary application in OS 10.5 and 10.6. You can launch the application from your Mac’s Application folder, or you can Control-Click on a word in a document, and choose “Look Up in Dictionary” in the contextual menu that pops up. If you’re in a native Mac application (Safari, Mail, etc), you can launch a mini-Dictionary when you position your cursor over a word (or highlight a word) and hold down Control-Command-D. Clicking “More” at the bottom of this tiny window launches the full Dictionary application.

From here it’s evident that you can look up words, correct spelling mistakes, and research synonyms. You can also research Wikipedia entries related to words in the Dictionary app. OK, great, that’s all well and good. But did you know that there’s another whole level to the Dictionary app? When you click on “Go” in menu at the top of the menu bar, you’ll see a link that says “Front/Back Matter.” Open this and you’ll discover a hidden new universe in your Mac’s dictionary. These are many classic Oxford reference materials here, such as “Rules of English: Understanding Grammar,” “Constitution of the United States of America,” and, perhaps most interestingly, “Clichés.”

I let the cat out of the bag, and the ball is now in your court. I know you’re busy as a bee but it’s time to bury the hatchet, pay the piper, and check out Dictionary’s hidden reference materials. It’s a no-brainer. Practice makes perfect. This might be a quick and dirty Mac Treat, but I’m not pulling any punches; I’m putting my money where my mouth is. And last but not least, wonders never cease.

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