Installing WeDict with custom dictionaries

WeDict is a native iPhone application that can read the standard stardict dictionary format.

WeDict is available from the App Store for free.

(Note: WeDict Pro is, as you might guess, the Pro version. See below.)

** (Note 2: As of 06/2009, WeDict Pro has added an internal FTP server, making the process simpler still, and it seems the basic WeDict is no longer even available.  Also see below.  So basically this entry is now pretty much outdated, but see Note 2, below, anyway.)

Unfortunately, it only comes only with a basic English dictionary and a Chinese-English dictionary and no instructions on how to add others. To make matters worse, if you install the dictionaries in the location that iTunes puts WeDict on your iPhone, then iTunes will erase them next time you sync.  So you have to work around this. This is the method that worked for me:

Install WeDict through the App Store

Do this normally and sync your iPhone. Then run WeDict once on the iPhone. Note you must set your dictionaries in WeDict settings.

Obtain some stardict dictionaries

Thousands of dictionaries are available for free, so start here to find some. Note that each stardict dictionary contains two files, one with a file extension .dict and the other with a file extension .idx.  If they are compressed, you must extract them.  Note that MSDict dictionary files are basically bundled stardict dictionaries.  So you can use those simply by showing the package contents of an MSDict file and using only the .dict and .idx files with WeDict.

Connect to you iPhone with SFTP and find the WeDict.app

First refer to my SFTP guide. I would emphasize again that CyberDuck worked much better than others.

Basically what you need to do is move the WeDict application from the location that iTunes installs it to the location used for the iPhone Apple factory applications, so that iTunes does not mess with it.

To do this, navigate to:

/private/var/mobile/Applications/

There you will find a bunch of folders with long hex code names, which are the unique IDs of your installed applications.  You have to find the one that contains the WeDict.app folder.

If you SSH into your iPhone (ssh root@iphonename.local) you can find this with a Terminal command:

find /private/var/mobile/Applications/ | grep WeDict

With FW 2.0 you might have to use this path instead:

find /User/Applications/ | grep WeDic

It’s probably easier, however, just to open the disclosure triangle of each folder until you find the right one. Remember this ID folder for now.

Move the WeDict.app folder

Now you want to move the entire WeDict.app folder to /Applications/.  Do this with drag & drop, with both the source folder and the destination folder disclosed.

Remove all traces of what iTunes installed

Entirely delete the original ID folder, which had the WeDict.app folder in it.

Then go to iTunes and select the Applications library, and delete WeDict by selecting it and pressing CMD-OPT-DELETE.

Install dictionaries

Drag & drop the .dict/.idx files for each dictionary into /Applications/WeDict.app/.  For good measure (possibly not necessary), change permissions for each dictionary file to 644.

Note that there appears to be some maximum file size.  WeDict just crashed when I tried to Install Meriam-Webster (90 MB).  There may be a limit on total number of dictionaries.  I found it works with about ten without problem. Because of this issue, I created a folder at /User/Media/Dicts/ to store extra dictionaries so in case I need them later I don’t have to recopy them from my Mac.

Reboot your iPhone

Now reboot your iPhone.  Try WeDict, making sure to set your newly installed dictionaries in settings as desired. If it works, sync with iTunes for good luck, just to make sure you’re good to go.

Cautions

I found out the very hard way that even though you’ve done this, iTunes still somehow treats WeDict as an installed purchased application, even though you can’t even delete it on the iPhone.  So if ever you need to remove all purchased applications (due to crashing problems with free ones perhaps), you must also manually delete WeDict using SFTP.

WeDict Pro

The developers of WeDict released a Pro version called WeDict Pro ($5.99) since this tutorial was written.  It claims to allow downloading dictionaries from the internet.  If that worked I’d buy it in an instant, but from the initial reviews of version 1.0 and now from my own experience, it implements this very badly. You must type full URLs to download dictionaries on your iPhone.  (The official product site does contain several links in the correct format.) The downloaded files can only be .dict and .idx files or a single .zip file containing them. Anything else you would have to download to your computer, repackage, and make available on a web server in the expected format.  I’ve now had a chance to try this, and indeed it is not ready for prime time.

However, there does seem to be an advantage to using this.  As one of the commenters below points out, dictionaries are downloaded to:

/User/Applications/[HEX_ID_CODE]/Documents/

This means that it seems possible to install dictionaries directly into that folder (with SFTP) without needing to move the WeDictPro.app folder first as described above for the free version. Since the files go in the Documents/ folder of the application, iTunes shouldn’t mess with it. I have tried this and so far it seems to work.  (Note that the default dictionary for WeDictPro, Indonesian, is kept inside the WeDictPro.app folder as before.)

However, messing with it too much I believe helped recreate the crashing problem yet again. Its delicate business.

Note 2:

Sometime with or before WeDictPro version 1.5, an internal FTP server was included, making all of the above pretty much unnecessary.  Just start the WeDict Pro server from Settings -> Dictionaries -> Upload dictionaries while on your LAN WiFi. Then connect with FTP on port 1234 using your preferred FTP client.  Note that dictionaries may not appear in the list until you restart WeDict Pro.

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20 Responses to “Installing WeDict with custom dictionaries”

  1. cygnus Says:

    great article

  2. DCR Says:

    After failed attemps with wedict free, I purchased wedict pro. With my dict.files saved from my jailbroken version, I installed them in the wedict.app documents folder with winscp. I synced and rebooted my Ipod touch. I tried the document folder because that’s where the files went when i tried to without success download the dict files.

  3. hitek3000 Says:

    For me WeDict crashed (started and after less than a sec it closed again) until I changed all file permissions (recursively) in /Applications/WeDict.app to 777. I’m not sure which file exactly requires these permissions, but it can’t harm to set them for all X-)

  4. Moses Says:

    I got dict’s to work from this link http://reciteword.sourceforge.net/stardict/babylon.php
    – i had to extract the contents of the .tar.bz2 file and then extract the .dict file from the .dict.dz file. I had to then move it to the /private/var/mobile/Applications/xxxx/Documents” folder. I use wedict pro on a jailbroken iPhone 3G.

  5. Wagner (Brazil) Says:

    Thank you for article. I have my own created dictionarys and I has a lot of problems with wedict free. Thanks for the light!

  6. Nathaniel Cook Says:

    Thanks for the tip. I didn’t even know about WeDict Pro. I was having sync issues with WeDict free (after putting extra dictionaries in there). I purchased WeDict pro, jailbroke and put the dictionaries in the documents folder and it seems to be syncing fine now.

  7. Juliy Says:

    Nice tip, I’ll try it right now with WeDict pro I bought. I just did a web search why the appendix didn’t want to start after reboot. I put the additional dictionaries in /private/var/mobile/Applications/xxxx/Documents” folder and after syncing WeDict pro is working

    Thank you very much for that useful information

  8. yossi Says:

    I have purchased the wedictpro threw itunes store and I am trying to use Hebrew English dictionary
    I can’t download any dictionary and its giving me just the Chinese English dictionaries please help me download other languishes dictionaries what is the URL I HAVE TO USE FOR DOWNLOADS Dictionaries
    Yossi urman

  9. Riva Says:

    Im not sure for what FW this tutorial is written.
    (Also its possible that I dont understand it right.)

    Im using FW 2.0.2
    Jailbroken iphone.

    I installed WeDict, found it in /private/var/mobile/Applications/ but I don’t have Applications foler in iPhone root.

    So thats where I got stuck.

  10. metaclam Says:

    Riva:

    The /Applications/ folder at root is an alias (symlink) to /private/var/stash/Applications/. You should definitely have that. Note when you log in to your iPhone with SSH it usually will connect you to a different folder. Just navigate up the hierarchy. /private/var/mobile/Applications is the same as /User/Applications. The latter is an alias to the former.

    Yossi:

    With WeDict Pro you can download any stardict dictionary in .zip or .idx + .dict format directly from within it. That’s the point in the main post. If you want to download directly from within WeDict, you must find downloadable files in those formats, and enter the URLs yourself. That’s why it advantageous to be able to copy them directly into the correct folder as explained in the WeDict Pro section above.

  11. Joseph Says:

    Great post! THNX!

  12. Xavier Says:

    This method doesn’t work with 2.1 anymore. 😦

    After doing everything wedict just doesn’t appear in the springboard… somehow bossprefs still detects it though..

  13. please help me Says:

    wahhh i was able to download all the dictionary but when i use webdict pro then check on them and search a word?nothing shows it all says cant found. anything wahhhh helP!!

  14. MR. Min from Korea. Says:

    I can install the dictionary with deleting just only a file!!!
    I expect you to do the same thing like this.
    1. just delete h something started with h .plist in pref of lib folder.
    2. then add the dic file into the Wedic app folder.
    3. all done (just home btn then do wedic), Enjoy!!

    Tip. You don’t have to buy pro version. Free version is O.K!!

  15. Johnno Says:

    Hey there is a new way for downloading Dictionaries to your WeDict Pro client.
    http://wedict.unlockitfree.com
    Just input the link that is given and it’ll download!

  16. markus Says:

    yeah, works smoothly, simply delete the h… .plist file and add all your dictionaries to the app folder. no moving around. I use WeDict free.

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    […] 3.0.  In most cases, only the names have changed.  In some cases, like tethering and installing WeDict dictionaries, things have changed more […]

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  19. qipao dress Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to make clear the terminlogy to the newbies!

  20. REC212 Says:

    thank u m8 it worked for me by SSH, all I did is copying dictionary file to private/var/mobile/Applications and without rebooting the iphone, I got the dictionary 😀

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