I added a lot of words to the standard Mac OS X system-wide dictionary on a given machine, and would like to transfer that specific list of words to another machine. Where / in what file(s) is that list of words stored?

2 Answers 2


Are you certain you really mean system-wide? If I add a custom spelling, in Snow, it seems to end up here:


The System-wide equivalent, which is empty on my Mac, would be here:


Aside from this, you will find packaged dictionaries here:

  • 2
    My computer shows a variant of this -- I have ~/Library/Spelling/en. This suggests that OS X will save dictionaries by ISO code for each language. Apr 30, 2010 at 14:01
  • Seems to work for me. I copied everything under ~/Library/Spelling/. I had to logout/login again for the changes to be visible.
    – ebruchez
    Nov 6, 2013 at 23:04
  • 2
    This answer no longer appears to be correct as os Mac OS Mojave 10.14 if not earlier. The local dictionary is in the same place, but /Library/Spelling and /Library/Dictionaries are gone AFAICT.
    – Carlana
    Mar 29, 2019 at 13:32
  • On Catalina+, this seems to contain the user's custom dictionary (i.e. the words that the user has added to the dictionary rather than a list of already-existing words). The other answer worked for me. Mar 24, 2021 at 15:37

For those attempting to find the Unix standard words file, it's at /usr/share/dict/words.

  • 3
    What's that list used for? Are those words already in the standard OSX dictionary? Dec 6, 2015 at 7:33
  • 3
    Lots of Unix utilities use it, since it's plain-text and easy to parse.
    – saagarjha
    Mar 15, 2017 at 4:56
  • 8
    This also work on mac!
    – filype
    Mar 31, 2017 at 0:02

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