Bring all your dictionaries with you on the Internet

LingQ offers us quite a lot of good online dictionaries for our studies, but when we quit LingQ and plunge deep into real life (Internet sites in foreign languages), things become more complicated. I know there are excellent things like Firefox extensions, but personally I prefer to have my own set of dictionaries available from all my programs (MsWord, Excel, Acrobat, you name it). For this, I use AutoHotlink.

What it does
Once AutoHotlink is installed, you can create a file, fill it with links to your online dictionaries, and associate each dictionary to a combination of keys on your keyboard.

For example, when I select a word with the mouse (any word, in any program) I have instant access to a good Japanese dictionary (Weblio) if I press on Ctrl-Win W, to Microsoft glossaries if I press on Ctrl-Win M, to Wordference if I press on Ctrl-Win W, and so on. The list of shortcuts can be as long as your capacity to remember them…

With AutoHotkey, you can save a lot of time (you don’t have to go to your browser, open your dictionary’s site, paste the word and press Enter). AutoHotkey does it for you.

How to do it

  1. Install AutoHotkey (

  2. Open a text editor, create an empty file and insert your dictionaries. Here is an example with Wordreference.

Send, ^c
word = %clipboard%
Run, http://www.
SetTitleMatchMode, 2

(IMPORTANT: Just remove the space after www. I had to put a space here, otherwise the string would appear as a link.)
That’s it. Here is the explanation.
First line: your shortcut. This syntax is for the Ctrl-Win keys. If you want to use a different combination, just consult the available documentation.
Second line: tells AutoHotkey to copy the selected word.
Third line: opens your default browser on Wordreference and pastes the word.
Fourth line: … sorry, I don’t remember ! All I remember is that it makes Autohotkey work more smoothly with certain dictionaries.
Fifth line: End of the command. Don’t forget to put it.

(If you look at the syntax, you will see “/enfr/” on the fourth line. This is the “English to French” string, and you can change it for different languages.)

  1. Just save the file under the name of your choice, and with the following extension : ahk (dicos.ahk, shortcuts.ahk, or whatever).
    Now, when you double-click on this file (personally I save it on the Destop, so it’s easy to activate), a small “H” green icon appears in the task bar. It means that your shortcut file is activated.

4 Select an English word somewhere on your computer, and, while holding the Ctrl and Win keys, press on W. Your will get the translation of the selected English word inside your default browser.

Your file can contain more than one shortcut. Just insert an empty line between each of them.

The syntax can be a bit complex for some dictionaries. If you don’t find it, just ask for some help in AutoHotkey forums. Here are two more examples.

Microsoft glossaries (English to French)
Send, ^c
word = %clipboard%
Run, http://www.
SetTitleMatchMode, 2

TradooIT (English to French)
Send, ^c
word = %clipboard%
Run, http://www. TradooIT - Concordancier bilingue
SetTitleMatchMode, 2

With some dictionaries the selected word is not pasted (for some reason it is not copied into the clipboard). The only solution I found is to copy it manually (Ctrl C) before using the Ctrl-Win key.

Have fun!

I think I will just continue importing articles of interest into LingQ. I use QuickLingQ for new words, then one more pass for phrases, adding the odd tag, and then I am ready to read on my iPhone or iPad using iLingQ. I can review my words and phrases at LingQ and find them highlighted in future lessons.

To each his own.

Sorry Steve, with this post I didn’t mean that I don’t need LingQ to study (I use it everyday since the day I subscribed). The shortcuts are only for my surfing on the Internet in a second language, without really “studying” the content. (I also use them extensively inside MsWord and Excel, since I’m a freelance translator).

I am sure these tools are useful for translating. However, I have a tendency to import everything I get in other languages, including languages that I speak quite well, as long as there are words that I want to learn. Everyone has their own experience and practices.