How to Turn Off Dictionary on Mac and iPhone

In the digital age, our devices have become indispensable tools for communication, productivity, and entertainment. Both Mac computers and iPhones are equipped with a plethora of features to enhance user experience. One of these features is the built-in dictionary, which can be incredibly helpful when you come across unfamiliar words or need to look up the meaning of a word quickly. However, there are times when this feature can be more of a hindrance than a help. Perhaps you’re a writer, a student, or just someone who doesn’t need constant word definitions popping up as you work or browse the web. In such cases, knowing how to turn off the dictionary on your Mac and iPhone can be a valuable skill.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the step-by-step process of disabling the dictionary feature on both your Mac computer and iPhone. We will also explore situations where you might want to keep the dictionary enabled and discuss the benefits of having it at your fingertips.

The Benefits of the Built-In Dictionary

Before we delve into the process of turning off the dictionary, let’s take a moment to appreciate the utility of this feature. The built-in dictionary on Mac and iPhone serves several valuable functions:

1. Instant Definitions

The most obvious benefit is the ability to look up word definitions instantly. Whether you’re reading a document, browsing a webpage, or chatting with friends, you can highlight any word and access its definition with a single click or tap.

2. Language Support

The dictionary is not limited to just one language. It supports multiple languages, which can be particularly useful for individuals who are multilingual or are learning a new language.

3. Enhanced Vocabulary

Having the dictionary readily available can help improve your vocabulary. It encourages users to explore the meanings of unfamiliar words, leading to an enriched language proficiency over time.

4. Contextual Usage

In some cases, the dictionary provides context for how a word is used in a sentence, making it even more helpful for understanding its meaning in different contexts.

5. Accessibility

For individuals with visual impairments, the built-in dictionary can be accessed through voice commands, ensuring accessibility and inclusion for all users.

While these benefits make the dictionary feature a valuable tool, there are situations where you might prefer to turn it off. Let’s now explore how to do that on both Mac and iPhone.

How to Turn Off Dictionary on Mac

Turning off the dictionary feature on your Mac computer is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Open System Preferences

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select “System Preferences” from the dropdown menu.

Step 2: Access Keyboard Preferences

  1. In the System Preferences window, click on “Keyboard.”

Step 3: Navigate to the Text Tab

  1. In the Keyboard preferences, click on the “Text” tab.

Step 4: Disable “Look Up”

  1. In the Text tab, you will find a checkbox labeled “Look up.” This feature is responsible for the dictionary pop-ups. Uncheck the box to turn off the dictionary.

Disable Look Up

Step 5: Close System Preferences

  1. Close the System Preferences window. Your changes will be saved automatically.

That’s it! You’ve successfully turned off the dictionary feature on your Mac computer. You will no longer see word definitions when you hover over words or phrases.

How to Turn Off Dictionary on iPhone

Disabling the dictionary on your iPhone involves adjusting the settings within the iOS operating system. Follow these steps to turn off the dictionary on your iPhone:

Step 1: Open Settings

  1. Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone. It’s the gear-shaped icon typically found on your home screen.

Step 2: Access General Settings

  1. Scroll down and tap on “General.”

Step 3: Go to Keyboard Settings

  1. In the General settings, scroll down again and tap on “Keyboard.”

Step 4: Disable Define

  1. In the Keyboard settings, you’ll see a toggle switch labeled “Enable Dictation.” Turn this switch off.

Disable Define

Step 5: Confirm the Deactivation

  1. A confirmation pop-up will appear, asking if you want to disable dictation. Tap “Turn Off Dictation” to confirm.

And there you have it! The dictionary feature is now turned off on your iPhone. You won’t see word definitions when you tap and hold on words in various apps.

When to Keep the Dictionary Enabled

While turning off the dictionary can be useful in specific situations, it’s important to recognize when having it enabled can be highly beneficial. Here are some scenarios where you might want to keep the dictionary feature active:

1. Language Learning

If you’re learning a new language, the dictionary can be an invaluable tool for quickly grasping the meanings of unfamiliar words and phrases.

2. Academic Work

Students can benefit greatly from the dictionary feature while researching and writing papers, ensuring accurate and precise language usage.

3. Writing and Editing

Writers and editors can use the dictionary to enhance their vocabulary and maintain consistency in their writing.

4. Multilingual Communication

In a globalized world, having access to word definitions in different languages can facilitate communication with people from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

5. Accessibility Needs

For individuals with visual impairments, the dictionary’s accessibility features can be essential for understanding text content.


The built-in dictionary on your Mac and iPhone is a powerful tool that can enhance your language skills, assist in learning, and improve your overall digital experience. However, there are situations where you might prefer to turn it off to avoid interruptions or distractions.

In this guide, we’ve provided step-by-step instructions on how to disable the dictionary on both your Mac computer and iPhone. Remember that you can always re-enable it by following the same steps in reverse.

Ultimately, whether you choose to keep the dictionary feature enabled or disabled depends on your specific needs and preferences. By understanding how to toggle this feature on and off, you have more control over your digital experience and can tailor it to suit your unique requirements.

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