How to use Free Software to learn Japanese, and more.

Setting up GoldenDict-NG

March 22, 2023 — Tatsumoto Ren

GoldenDict-NG is a libre dictionary application for GNU/Linux and other OSes. Like Qolibri, it lets you search multiple dictionaries at the same time so for every word you look up you immediately get a number of definitions. GoldenDict-NG is a great tool for language learners, and it becomes especially helpful when one switches from bilingual dictionaries to monolingual dictionaries. It can aid during the monolingual transition thanks to the ability to look up many words at once in separate tabs, simplifying recursive look-ups.


GoldenDict-NG is available as a free download from GitHub or from repositories of many GNU distributions. GoldenDict-NG is a successor of the vanilla GoldenDict. It can create Anki cards, which is important for people following the AJATT method.

Pacman-based distributions

If you use a Pacman-based distribution, you can enable the archlinuxcn repository and then run Pacman to install GoldenDict-NG.

sudo pacman -S goldendict-ng-git

Alternatively, install goldendict-ng-git from the AUR. You're going to have to wait for it to compile.

trizen -S goldendict-ng-git

Other distributions

Users of other distributions need to follow these instructions or clone the repository and build from source.

Obtain dictionaries

GoldenDict-NG supports a wide range of dictionary formats, including EPWING and MDX. They can be downloaded by clicking on the provided links. EPWING support is a little buggy, so I use GoldenDict-NG to view MDX dictionaries and Qolibri to view EPWING dictionaries.

After download finishes, open GoldenDict-NG, go to "Dictionaries" (F3) and specify the folders you've downloaded the dictionary files to under "Sources" > "Files".

Dictionary groups

Open "Dictionaries" (F3), go to "Groups" and create any groups you want. For example, you can have a group of dictionaries for learning English, Japanese, etc. Dictionaries can be added to a group by dragging and dropping.



Place the dictionaries you like the most on top for easy access. If you are new to monolingual dictionaries, I recommend 明鏡, 大辞林, 大辞泉, 新明解. During the monolingual transition, having as many dictionaries enabled as possible will help you find a definition that is easier to understand.

Hunspell dictionaries

Hunspell is a popular spell checker used by many applications, including GoldenDict-NG. It helps deinflect Japanese words, catch typos and provide suggestions when searching. To set up Hunspell dictionaries in GoldenDict-NG, users need to download and install them first.

Users of pacman-based distributions can install hunspell-ja-git. Others can install the package manually from GitHub.

If you are learning other languages, install Hunspell dictionaries for them too. For example:

The advantage of installing Hunspell dictionaries with pacman (or the package manager of your distro) is that all of them will be placed in the same directory: /usr/share/hunspell. GoldenDict-NG doesn't have an option to load Hunspell dictionaries from different folders. Once installed, open GoldenDict-NG, go to "Edit" > "Preferences" and finish setting them up.



Pronunciation audio pronunciation collection for GoldenDict is a collection of audio files from Among other languages, this torrent includes 292,342 native pronunciations of Japanese words. You can use these folders in Goldendict after unpacking them into a directory of your choice. To add a new folder, open GoldenDict-NG, go to "Dictionaries (F3)" > "Sources" > "Sound Dirs" > "Add", then paste the path to an extracted folder.

Sound Dirs

Sound Dirs Settings.

Forvo Search

Search Forvo audio.

Note: GoldenDict scans the sound directory on each startup. It may take a long time because audio files are stored in folders, each folder being named after the person who recorded the audio clips. To help the scanning finish faster, flatten the directory by moving the audio files from the subfolders into the parent directory. You can do it by launching a terminal in the directory and executing:

find . -type f -exec mv -n -- "{}" ./ \;
find . -empty -delete


gd-tools is a collection of tools for GoldenDict-NG that aim to help in learning foreign languages. To install gd-tools, follow the instructions on GitHub. Arch Linux users can install the program from the AUR.

External programs can be added by opening Preferences (F4) and going to "Sources" > "Programs".



Available features:

  • Sentence parsing.
  • Image search.
  • Stroke order diagrams.
  • Example sentences.
  • Query Anki collection to see if you already have a card for the word you're lookin up.

Sentence splitting

gd-marisa is a part of gd-tools and can be used to split sentences into words. Each word is clickable. It allows you to look up a full sentence and then click on individual words.

Add the following command as and external program.

gd-marisa --word %GDWORD% --sentence %GDSEARCH%


Anki integration

Read how to connect with anki to configure Anki integration. Additionally, you need AnkiConnect installed.

Anki settings


On the "Network" tab fill the following fields:

  • Deck: The name of your Anki deck.
  • Model: The name of your Note Type
  • Word: Headword, vocabulary
  • Text: Selected text, definition.
  • Sentence: The contents of the translate line.

To create a new Anki card, select the definition, right-click and select "Send to Anki".

Mpvacious setup

More information on Mpvacious is provided on subsequent pages.

Mpvacious can work with GoldenDict-NG. If you append autoclip_method=goldendict to the config file (subs2srs.conf), mpvacious will send every subtitle line directly to GoldenDict-NG instead of copying text to the system clipboard.

A video demonstration is available here.

Transformers OCR setup

More information on Transformers OCR is provided on subsequent pages.

Transformers OCR can pass recognized text directly to GoldenDict-NG instead of copying text to the system clipboard. To pair them up, append clip_command=goldendict %TEXT% to the config file.


Enable clipboard scanning

Many third-party programs, such as crqt-ng can copy text to the system clipboard when it is selected. GoldenDict-NG can watch the clipboard and automatically perform lookups new text is copied.

To enable scanning, you can click on the light bulb icon on the toolbar. The feature can be configured under "Preferences" F4 > "Scan Popup".

Disable main window stealing focus when searching

When a search is triggered (for example, by mpvacious), the main window focuses itself even if it's already visible, which may be undesirable for some users. To change this behavior, go to "Preferences" > "Advanced" > disable "On a new search, focus the main window even if it's visible."

Focus the translate line

Pressing Ctrl+L puts the mouse cursor inside the translate line. This keyboard shortcut is the same as in web browsers, such as Firefox, so it's easy to remember.

Make the translate line larger

Japanese characters look tiny on the translate line. But you can click on it and press Alt++ to make it bigger.

Unclutter the top panel

Disabling "Edit" > "Dictionary bar" hides toggleable dictionaries.



A wider translate line is more convenient when editing pasted sentences.

Alternatively, enable "View" > "Search Pane". The advantage of this mode is that there's a separate box for search suggestions.

Set example sentence

If a dictionary has example sentences, it is possible to send an example to the translate line before making an Anki card. To do so, select the sentence, right-click and choose "Send to the input line".

Full Text Search can cause the program to utilize 100% of the CPU all the time. This is likely a bug. Disable the feature in "Preferences" > "Full-text search".

Keyboard shortcuts

All the available keyboard shortcuts are listed here. It's nice to memorize some of them to make navigation easier.

Jump between definitions

Pressing Alt+Up arrow or Alt+Down arrow switches to the previous or next dictionary definition.

Remove duplicate display of EPWING headwords

Paste the code below in a file named article-style.css in a folder with a name of your choosing in the styles folder of GoldenDict-NG.

  • GNU+Linux folder location: ~/.goldendict/styles/.
  • Windows-like (ReactOS) folder location: C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\GoldenDict\styles\.

Restart GoldenDict-NG and enable the style in "Edit" > "Preferences" > "Add-on style".

CSS for GoldenDict-NG
/* Add padding and a horizontal bar between each entry for the sake of readability */
.mdict {
    border-top: 0.15em solid #c4c4c4;
    margin-bottom: 0.5em;
    padding-top: 0.5em;
.gddictname {
    position: relative;
    z-index: 9;
    margin-bottom: -0.16em;
/* Remove duplicate headers in EPWING dictionaries. */
.epwing_article h3 {
    display: none;
.epwing_text:first-line {
    text-indent: -1em;
.epwing_text {
    padding-top: 0.5em;
    padding-left: 1em;
    border-top: 0.15em solid #c4c4c4;
    margin-bottom: 0.5em;


GoldenDict-NG is an excellent tool that offers users a comprehensive range of features. It is easy to install, set up, and users have access to many dictionaries. The program is capable of generating Anki cards, which is ideal for people doing AJATT. Additionally, the option to create tabs makes it possible to do recursive look-ups.

Tags: guide, dictionaries