Gaelic-language spellchecking on Mac OS X


You may (or may not) be aware that the (Scottish) Gaelic development agency, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, worked with The European Language Initiative (TELI) and Microsoft to produce a new Gaelic spellchecker for Microsoft Office. This is called the Dearbhair and is a free download, which uses a large GOC-compliant database (constantly revised and expanded by TELI).

This page outlines how I've repackaged the Dearbhair so it can be installed by those of us who use Macs.

The page is broken into three sections:

  1. Gaelic spellchecking in Mac OS X Snow Leopard and later
  2. Gaelic spellchecking for OpenOffice and LibreOffice
  3. Gaelic spellchecking in Mac OS X Leopard and Tiger (legacy)

(If you're not sure what version of Mac OS X you have, check the FAQ. Which might also help you with other questions and/or problems you may be having. If it doesn't, drop me a line and let me know what your problem is.)

Snow Leopard and later

This is really a simple process, in theory:

OpenOffice and LibreOffice

Update: I now recommend you follow the instructions provided by the tireless experts at iGaidhlig.net to get LibreOffice in Gaelic, unless you specifically want to use the Dearbhair database.

The above method will not work for OpenOffice or LibreOffice on the Mac. However, don't despair; this is what you need to do if you use OpenOffice and want to spell-check your documents:

You will generally need to restart Open/Libre Office for the installed dictionary to work properly (at least, that has been my experience).

Gaelic spellchecking for Leopard and Tiger (legacy)

Unlike more recent versions of Mac OS X, Tiger and Leopard do not allow for user-installed spelling dictionaries. There is a solution, but it is slightly more cumbersome, and comes in two parts:

cocoAspell extends the Mac OS X spellchecker and allows new language dictionaries to be installed (provided they are packaged in the correct aspell format). This is what I've done (the second download) with the TELI dictionary. The package is for Leopard and Tiger versions of Mac OS X only.

Download both packages -- in order -- and follow the instructions. This process should be fairly painless. Once you've enabled the Scottish Gaelic dictionary you can use it within any app that uses Apple's built-in spellchecker.

NB. You may have to close and re-open a software package (especially Mail) after you've changed the dictionary language for the change to take effect.


This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.