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Protein glycosylation events that happen early in the secretory pathway are often dysregulated during tumorigenesis. These events can be probed, in principle, by monosaccharides with bioorthogonal tags that would ideally be specific for distinct glycan subtypes. However, metabolic interconversion into other monosaccharides drastically reduces such specificity in the living cell. Here, we use a structure-based design process to develop the monosaccharide probe GalNAzMe that is specific for cancer-relevant Ser/Thr-N-acetylgalactosamine (O-GalNAc) glycosylation. By virtue of a branched N-acylamide side chain, GalNAzMe is not interconverted by epimerization to the corresponding N-acetylglucosamine analog like conventional GalNAc-based probes. GalNAzMe enters O-GalNAc glycosylation but does not enter other major cell surface glycan types including Asn (N)-linked glycans. We equip cells with the capacity to biosynthesize the nucleotide-sugar donor UDP-GalNAzMe from a caged precursor. Tagged with a bioorthogonal azide group, GalNAzMe serves as an O-glycan specific reporter in superresolution microscopy, chemical glycoproteomics, a genome-wide CRISPR knock-out (KO) screen, and imaging of intestinal organoids. GalNAzMe is a precision tool that allows a detailed view into the biology of a major type of cancer-relevant protein glycosylation. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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