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How to Install Custom Dictionaries on Your Kobo eReader

kobo aba indieboundKobo ships its ereaders with a half dozen dictionaries (including English, German, Italian, French, etc). That’s more than enough for this ebook lover, but if you need more options then I have two pieces of good news for you.

Kobo lets you sideload dictionaries – including the many dictionaries that users have been making for themselves for the past few years. (You can even make your own Kobo dictionary out of a StarDict file, although that is a lot more work.)

Here’s how.

 

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Tl;dr

Installing a dictionary on your Kobo ereader is as simple as downloading one of the ZIP files listed here and then copying the ZIP file to the .kobo/dict folder on your Kobo ereader.

You might want to also want to go into the settings -> language menu and uninstall the dictionaries you won’t be using; this will force the new dictionary as the default.

If you’re reasonably tech savvy, the process is that simple. But for those who need more details, here’s the longer version.

How To

1, Find a dictionary listed here which you would like to install. Download it to your computer.

2, Plug your Kobo ereader in to your computer over USB. Find and open the .kobo folder, and then find and open the dict folder.

kobo custom dictionary

If you can’t see the .kobo folder, your computer might be hiding them from you. The following links will explain how to reveal the hidden folders.

3, Once you’ve opened the dict folder, simply copy the entire ZIP file you downloaded into the dict folder.

And you’re done. You can unplug your Kobo ereader from the USB cable now.

The ereader should recognize the dictionary automatically. (At least that is how it worked for me.) When you next look up a word, you should be able to select the dictionary you just installed and read its definition.

Addendum

If you can’t find a dictionary for the language you read, you can roll your own. A blogger by the name of zalima has posted detailed instructions.

The act of making a Kobo dictionary from a Stardict file is simple, but the set up process is a bear. It requires a much higher level of technical skill than simply installing a dictionary, but it can be done.

Credit

That list of links to dictionaries was gathered by Alberto Pettarin, who has also been maintaining the list and updating it. He’s also the one who wrote penelope, the conversion script you can use to make your own Kobo dictionary.

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ilay 18 September, 2015 um 8:16 am

Hey,
I tried the German-English link on the list.. But it seems to lead to a thread concerning English-German dictionaries. I tried two of them an they were indeed English-German, Any ideas where I could find a descent German-English dictionary for my kobo glo? The supplied dictionaries by kobo are really bad.

Nate Hoffelder 18 September, 2015 um 9:12 am

The dictionaries don’t work in both directions? That I did not know.

Hmm. I’ll help you look for another source.


Alberto Pettarin 18 September, 2015 um 9:41 am

Hi,

unfortunately the MR post listed the English->German dictionary as "German->English". I corrected it now.

I do not know about DE->EN dictionaries already in Kobo format. If you find one in e.g. StarDict format, you can convert it to the Kobo format with the Penelope Python script.

Nate Hoffelder 18 September, 2015 um 9:47 am

I asked Chalid for help. he runs the site you linked to, so he should be able to help.


Roman 14 November, 2015 um 6:56 am

Hi,
Tried to install custom Czech>English dictionary to my Kobo Aura without success. I downloaded .zip file, found .kobo and then dict folder, copied downloaded .zip file there as per instructions. However, when checking installed dictionaries through settings/language, the new dictionary is not listed. Any ideas?


Danae 5 January, 2016 um 5:47 pm

Same as for Roman, followed directions for my Kobo Aura and the new dictionary doesn’t show up.


dud 8 January, 2016 um 5:38 am

Yes I’d like to get the czech dictionary to work also….


Roman 14 January, 2016 um 5:31 pm

I found in detailed instructions given in Appendix of the above articele that
14. In order to get your Kobo device to recognize the dictionary files, you have to use it to replace an existing original dictionary. To do this, you have to use the file name of an existing original dictionary. For example, I don’t use the Spanish dictionary, so I renamed the file "dicthtml-es-en.zip" on my Kobo device to "dicthtml-es-en-backup.zip", so I will still have a backup in case I need it later. Then I renamed my Turkish-English dictionary to "dicthtml-es-en.zip".
15. Unplug your Kobo device, tap a word in a book and use the "Spanish" dictionary to look up words in your dictionary.

Even if it is a bit of nuisance to use "Spanish" or another dictionary when in fact looking for a Czech word it worked . The other problem is, and that happened to me now, that when you update your KOBO ereader software KOBO will replace your "Spanish" dictionary by the real Spanish dictionary and you have to go through the whole procedure again

Nate Hoffelder 14 January, 2016 um 7:09 pm

You had to _replace_ a dictionary?

I don’t think that is how it worked for me, but thanks for letting us know. I’ll try it myself and see what happens.


Roman 15 January, 2016 um 9:45 am

Yes, I had to replace one of the standard dictionaries. There was no other way – originally given instructions did not work for me

Ari 7 February, 2016 um 5:45 pm

It worked for me as well with the Dutch-English!
It didn´t work with the originally given instructions but it works if I replace one of the standard dictionaries.
Thanks a lot!!

Francesco 30 June, 2019 um 8:49 am

Confirmed


Roman 7 February, 2016 um 5:51 pm

Glad to hear that


Alberto Pettarin 23 September, 2016 um 5:46 am

Hi Nate,

in fact the blog post referenced in this article gives direction using an earlier version of Penelope.

It would be better if you can update it, maybe linking to this section of the README of Penelope on GitHub, which describes how to copy the dictionary files to the Kobo eReader:

https://github.com/pettarin/penelope#kobo-devices

And yes, it seems that the file names are hard-coded in the Kobo firmware, so you either need to patch the Kobo firmware or rename your dictionary file as one of the official dictionaries. Moreover, it is true that sync’ing the Kobo will replace your custom dictionaries with the official ones. Again, the solution is either a firmware patch (there is thread on MobileRead) or simply copying the custom dictionaries over after each sync’ing.


A 6 March, 2018 um 3:21 pm

Hmm… I’ve followed the instructions above, putting the dictionary in the .kobo > .dict folder but my Kobo ONE does not see the dictionary (Russian-English). I’ve tried fiddling with it in a variety of ways but nothing seems to help. I presume it stays zipped, like the dictionaries that were already there. Any thoughts? Thanks!


astrolabecat 20 November, 2018 um 2:22 pm

Thanks, Roman! That was so helpful. I know do Dutch-English translation with my English-Turkish dictionary 🙂


Sush 12 January, 2019 um 7:05 am

Downloaded De-En dictionary, looks good! You need to overwrite the Kobo original dictionary, which is very poor from German to English.
Thank you so much!


MCo 20 November, 2019 um 9:37 am

The one in swedish is wrong. I can not tech enough to make one. Can someone help me?


Mi 22 November, 2019 um 1:47 pm

I need the same!! Help please


Darwin amazigh 3 January, 2021 um 3:53 am

hello
i uploaded three dictioanies from archive org german arabic.italian arabic.french arabic in zipjp2 but my kobo dont recongnize them not !!
i really need Help
and i am ignorant in programation
thank you


Pat 4 June, 2021 um 7:34 pm

Strange. A year ago i tried to install a Russian dictionary in my old Kobo Glo and it didn’t work. The e-reader did not see the new dictionary. I tried everything i could find in this site and nothing. Then a week ago (June 2021) i tried again and, bingo, i have a working Russky-Eng dictionary in my Kobo. The only difference is that this time, right after inserting the dictionary into the Dict folder, i synchronized the e-reader with the Kobo desktop app for Windows. After that, the Russian dictionary was available to me. Thanks for this site.

Steven Monrad 27 December, 2021 um 8:12 am

Sounds good. Where did you get the dictionary file? Thank you. [email protected]


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