Fixing Dictionary App Keeps Popping up Issue

If you are experiencing this annoying issue: the Dictionary keeps popping up when you type or use the mouse on your Mac, here is the solution for you.

The issue appeared on my MacBook Pro all of a sudden, I had no idea what I did. I was just typing to type on a Google doc and some words got automatically highlighted, followed by a Dictionary app showed up providing a definition of the word the mouse pointed at. And my screen sometimes enlarged by itself.

dictionary-app-shows

At first, I thought it was that I haven’t updated my MacBook to the latest macOS, so I went ahead and updated. But the issue still persisted.

The Solution

It’s actually quite simple to disable dictionary from popping up on Mac. All you need to do is uncheck an option in the trackpad setting.

Step 1: click on the Apple icon on the top left corner, then select System Preferences.

mac-system-preferences

Step 2: click on Trackpad.

settings-trackpad-mac

Step 3: under the Point & Click tab, uncheck the Look up & data detectors option.

points-click-look-up

That’ll do it. Now the annoying dictionary keeps popping up issue should not re-appear.

Quite simple, right?

Not sure how I mistakenly checked this option. My guess is that I might have mis-clicked it while I was cleaning my Mac screen and keyboard.

Anyway, hope this tip has helped you out.

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  • Adam P

    Thank you! It’s on by default. So annoying.

    Reply
  • Danny

    Here’s the rundown of what “Force click” can do for you on Mac: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204352 — it’s likely a feature enabled by default on new macbooks.

    Super annoying to have it on by default I agree…and quite a learning curve to understand the implications on all of these apps. I would rather it be something we can teach the trackpad to do. “Force Click in this app does x workflow” sorta thing. CC @SteveJobs

    Reply
  • michael

    thank u very much for this solution !

    Reply
  • Max

    THANK YOU! I love the web, people helping each other contain these toxic tendencies of software. Hard to remember a more annoying feature since “Clippy.” Apple is rotting…

    Reply
  • Lise Thomson

    thank you so much – this was driving me crazy!

    Reply
  • Wayne

    Man, what a useless, annoying feature. What were they thinking. Of course, as usual, I had to Google the question to find you help. Thank you!!! Wayne

    Reply
  • Helen

    Many thanks. Save lots of time.

    Reply
  • deb

    OMG, thank you, this was driving me NUTS!!! I went out and bought a fancy mouse, when I should have looked up what the problem might be beforehand!

    Deb

    Reply
  • Andrew Warner

    Thank you! That drove me crazy. What an odd thing for Apple to make a default.

    Reply
  • Majid

    Woow, Thank you Jerry๐Ÿ’.

    Reply
  • Med

    Thanks man, you are a life saver!!

    Reply
  • Megan

    THANK YOU! that was driving me crazy!

    Reply
  • Lara

    Thank you! My jupyter notebook coding was hellish until I found your fix.

    Reply
  • Pierre

    This didnโ€™t work for me, at least not in all apps. Iโ€™m using Adobe Dimension, and right-clicking and dragging turns the camera around, but whenever I try it, the dictionary almost always pops up.

    Reply
  • James

    Thank you, that certainly makes using Google sheets easier.

    Reply
  • Zirrus

    Thank you!! this has been driving me crazy. It severely hobbles the ability to cut and paste. I’d read the Keyboard shortcuts, but not the trackpad version you’ve posted. Let me add my vote of thank you to the comments here.

    Reply
  • Stuart

    Well done fella, this was turned on by default and made copying text from the terminal impossible. Cheers,

    Reply
  • Laura

    Definitely helped! I was loosing my mind. It only started after the new update on my computer. This is why I hate updates!

    Reply
  • Lola

    thank you for the answer. this really helped me.

    Reply
  • Jordi

    Love you! Could not find how to delete this option, and I had done several searches! All my searches took me to shortcuts, but that wasn’t it! Thank you so much, I finally found the solution!

    Reply
  • Anupam

    Thanks! worked !

    Reply
  • Asaf

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Neil

    Either my new MacBook Pro came with this option set or it might have happened with a software update. I did not have this problem on my old MacBook Pro. Like many others, this was testing my sanity. I had resorted to very specific placing of the cursor when trying to perform functions such as cut and paste, sometimes taking three or four attempts to get the placement of the cursor such that the dictionary/wikipedia window did not appear. This fix appears to have solved the problem and has greatly reduced the chances of my MacBook hitting the wall. If you ever make it to Amsterdam the beers are on me. Thanks .

    Reply
    • Jerry Romero

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for the comment. Glad to see it worked!

      Reply
  • annie

    ditto!!! it was not turned off in services as others have posted but in the trackpad itself! many thanks! hugs!

    Reply
  • Lily

    I moved recently from a PC laptop to MacBook Pro and this constant dictionary pop up has been most annoying! Makes sharing screen in meetings very challenging, so thanks very much for pointing out the fix to opt out.

    Surely the UX leads at Apple could listen to the many voices of frustration and recommend this feature to be disabled by default in future instead?

    Reply
    • Jamie

      Don’t be silly! Users NEED to have the definition of the first one of every sentence they’re trying to highlight. Particularly really common words, like “the”!

      Reply
  • Vignesh Miriyala

    Thank you so much!!!

    Reply
  • Amee

    I cannot thank you enough for this tip. You have saved my sanity!

    Reply
  • Helina Fedorchuk

    Oh, thank you so much! I was getting dispaired…

    Reply
  • Coe

    Thank you, thank you very much…I was beginning to count how much time a day did I lose because of this popup

    Reply
  • chuck

    Thank you, that was so annoying especially while day trading, slowed down my losing money ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply
  • youraveragearmy

    thank you so much! i’ve been having this problem for a while and it was so annoying. such a simple but hidden solution T-T

    Reply
  • Sunny

    Woohoo! It works beautifully. Thanks

    Reply
  • S O Anon

    Its astonishing this thing still exists.

    My father took his mac back after I suggested trying one. When I asked him what he didn’t like, it was 1) ctrl-c/v/x doesnt work (Thats on me, I probably should have explained that one to him in advance, that macs use the command-c/v/x thing) and 2) “It kept constantly popping up a dictionary and I think it was broken”.

    Reply
  • Mac User

    Thank you very much. Curse Mac’s annoying dictionary app. I can’t even delete it.

    Reply
  • Ed

    Heaps of gratitude whizzing your way from across oceans and seas! This has annoyed the hell out of me and I had no idea what I was doing wrong. Force touch indeed…

    Reply
  • Andie

    Thank you! Ever since the latest iOS update, the dictionary was popping up almost every time I tried to copy text. Much gratitude – may have saved the MacBook from going airborne in a fit of frustration.

    Reply
  • Bob Hunt

    You are my hero!!! This has been annoying me for 3 years!

    Had no idea the fix was so simple… ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
    • Jerry Romero

      Great, glad that you fixed it Bob ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  • Helene A Bardinet

    Thank you!!!

    Reply
  • Ellen

    THANK YOUUUUUU – This has been driving me insane.

    Reply
  • K

    Awesome, thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  • Stephanie

    Thanks so much! That was utterly annoying.

    Reply
  • luke

    Steve Jobs who have never allowed for this crap, thank you for saving my sanity.

    Reply
  • Phyzus

    Just got my new MacBookPro and dealing with that made me furious. Thank you so much for the right answer. It’s gone. I’m appreciating my older MacBookPro more as I use this one with problems like that. I’m finding that a lot of my problems were not an 8-year old MacBookPro but apparently is the software.

    Reply
  • tatiana

    It was already unchecked. This did’t work

    Reply
  • Shelby

    Life saving – I was going mad. thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • Anonymous

    thank you so much

    Reply
  • charlotte

    Thank you so much!!!!! This was driving me CRAZY!

    Reply
  • Xaria

    This is a game-changer!! I can finally highlight, thanks so much!

    Reply
  • Jeremy Carlson

    THANK YOU!! MAN that has been annoying.

    Reply
  • karen berk

    i did what you instructed on the trackpad page, i found only the middle choice checked.
    The first choice, which you said to “uncheck” wasn’t checked, and the third wasn’t either .
    I hope someone can figure this out. i am so disabled i can’t do my work!!

    Reply
  • Sutter

    I appreciate your help.
    Thanks soooo much!

    Reply
  • CK

    It popped up again for me after I did what you said. Why don’t they get rid of it? Ban it? It blocks other things. Very annoying.

    Reply
  • Angie

    Thank you! It was popping up in meetings – very distracting. Now I know why – I was pausing on my trackpad. Argh.

    Reply
  • Jackie

    Thank you! I received a laptop to work from home (having always used a desktop computer) and the dictionary popup has been driving me insane. This worked a charm.

    Reply
  • Jason Turuc

    THANK you!!

    Reply
  • Anne Allodi

    you have saved my sanity! thank you!

    Reply
  • Erin

    Holy crap, thank you so much! I was losing my mind!

    Reply
  • Mehmet Subasi

    Thank you. I think the default must have been an unchecked ?Look up & data detectors?. Bad Apple.

    Reply
  • Susan Sedro

    Thank you! This was driving me crazy.

    Reply
  • Rachel

    OH MY GOD THANK YOU…. I was about to throw the damn thing out the window!

    Reply
  • Ed Cochran

    My god this was driving me insane. I really cant thank you enough.

    Reply
    • Nargis Suleman

      Yes, can’t thank you enough. It was so frustrating trying to finish a report with the constant pop-ups

      Reply
  • Jeff

    Thank you! I’ve been trying to find a solution to this irritation for a while!!
    Nice to not have this annoying feature constantly coming up!!

    Reply