The Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM v4.0

Somewhat over a year ago, I mentioned that I’d bought the Shorter OED for what was then my only Mac. It was nice to have, but lacked the glorious comprehensiveness of the full OED, which remained on a virtual Windows XP machine. So when I got a mailshot telling me that not only was a new, fancier version of the OED CD available, but that it would run on both Windows and Mac OS X, I was definitely interested. As I looked at the brochure, I started convincing myself that it was just about affordable at a little under £200 (less than I paid for the previous one, and that was around six or seven years ago). But it was when I saw the extra bit of paper that told me that as a registered user of an older version, I could get the new one for £78, I couldn’t resist, and placed my order immediately, even though it wasn’t expected to be released for a month or two.

There was some initial confusion when I got the order acknowledgement – the email told me that the upgrade would be Windows-only, rather than dual-format. I contacted the nice people at the OED, who very kindly offered to send me the full product at the upgrade price, so I could indeed install it on my Mac. :bow: They also told me that the new version wouldn’t be out until late May, and was that OK, too? Well, I didn’t object to waiting a while, so that was fine. Now I wasn’t expecting to get my new OED until the end of this month, so when the postman left a card on Friday, I assumed it was for something else altogether, so I was in no rush to go to the sorting office and collect whatever it was that wouldn’t fit through my letter box.

Anyway, this morning I went along and got my package, which I was very happy to find was labelled Oxford University Press, which meant it had to be the new OED CD-ROM. Just one question remained – had they remembered to send me a Mac-friendly version? Well, of course they had! :bouncy: :bouncy:

As with the previous version, this comes as two CDs – one labelled Install Disc, the other Data Disc. However, the Mac version works by copying a disk image file from each CD (well, one .DMG and a partial .DMF file) – for a total of around 600MB. Double-clicking the main DMG makes it assemble a single installation image which is just dragged to the Applications folder in the usual way. Once that’s done, the copied files can be deleted from the desktop.

And then, you can launch the new OED. Unlike the old version, there’s an option to skip the title screen and go straight to the dictionary window, which shows a randomly selected word for your amusement. Basic searching is the same as before, and there’s an advanced search with options to look for words based on such criteria as the earliest date the word has been cited, the author of any quotations and more. There are also filters so you can limit your search to particular parts of speech, such as nouns or verbs. Very nice.

Any entry can be copied to the clipboard and pasted into any application that accepts a good bit of pasting, which is convenient. Printing is available, too.

There’s also the option to automatically look words up when they’re copied to the clipboard. In previous versions, I’ve managed to confuse it when copying large blocks of text around, so I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Now I have the full OED on the Mac Mini, I’ll put the Shorter OED on the MacBook. And my virtual Windows XP machine will lose let another reason for existing.[1]

Full product details from the OUP.

[1] Currently reduced to Microsoft Money and the occasional bit of VPN and RDP for work.

5 thoughts on “The Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM v4.0

  1. Michael

    Thanks; that’s a helpful review. Glad to hear it’s a thumbs-up. I have a MacBook and have been toying with the idea of splashing out on this. How quickly does it load up compared to other programs on the Mac? i.e. if I am not just browsing the dictionary but am working on something else and come across a word I want to check…would I have to wait long for the OED to get ready to cooperate or does it spring into action reasonably quickly?

    1. Les Post author

      In this version, it’s pretty nippy. The previous one was quite slow, but I just timed it on my relatively slow Mac Mini, and from clicking the Dock icon to having an available dictionary took no more than four seconds. On a quicker machine, I’d expect better than that…

  2. K O'Rourke

    I own the 2nd edition (1999) which of course was only for Windows. I could run it on Virtual PC, but now that I have my new iMac running Leopard, I was hoping to pay for the update and get the Mac 4.0 version. Talked to Oxford Univ Press (US) today and was told that if I want the Mac version users have to pay FULL price. We can have the upgrade for the PC for $79. Considering that all these years the functionality of this very expensive CD-ROM version of the OED has always been a pain every time I got a new machine, you would think that OUP would do something nice for previous paying customers. But no discount on the Mac version 4! So you were very lucky to get it.

    No way I am paying $295. Somehow I will get my 2nd edition copy to work on my virtual PC on my Mac…or I will go to the library.

    1. Les Post author

      I think they let me have the full version because the mailshot I ordered from didn’t mention that the upgrade was Windows only. It was only the order acknowledgement email that admitted that, so I complained, and they immediately offered the full version. As I mentioned to them, there are potentially a lot of their customers who want to switch from Windows to Mac. Don’t know why thier US branch should be less helpful.

      I’ve had the old version running on a virtual XP machine under VMWare Fusion – no problem at all on my little Mac Mini, can’t see it being a problem on a much faster iMac…

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