How to Translate The WordPress Back Office

WordPress Plugins

Did you know you can customize the WordPress back office text to suit your needs? Themes often use text labels that are specific to their needs. You can change these labels, and this guide will show you how.

Why Translate a Theme Language?

Lets say you've found a theme that has the features and layout you like. Chances are the theme was developed to suit a specific industry. The theme may have labelled Post Types, Meta fields and other elements according to what serves it best. These values may not suit you however. For example, a theme creates a Post Type labelled 'Photo Gallery' but you want it labelled 'Video Gallery'. No problem, you can change that. You can also use this method to translate text from English to French for example.

Necessary Tools

You will need a software application called Poedit. Good news, it's free! Poedit allows you to edit a theme's language files.

Download Poedit here.

How to Translate The Theme Language File(s)

Step 1
Install WordPress in your language OR Change the language in the admin settings screen. Settings > General > Site Language.

Step 2
Look for default.po file in your theme's "languages" directory, If there is no such directory then look for default.po in theme's root directory.

Once found, Download the default.po and rename it to your language code for example en_US.po for English. Complete lists of codes can be found at (country codes) and (language codes).

Step 3
Start translating en_US.po in the Poedit software to suit your needs.

You do not need to translate everything, instead look for the sentences or words that you really need to translate and leave the others as it is.

Step 4
Save the en_US.po file in Poedit and it will create a new file named en_US.mo with in the same directory as en_US.po file in your computer.

Upload en_US.po & en_US.mo to the directory from where you have downloaded the default.po in start.

That's it. Your translation should work fine now.

For Child Theme

If child theme that you are using already has "languages" directory then upload the translated po and mo files to child theme's "languages" directory instead of parent theme. This way you can update parent theme easily as your translation will reside in child theme.

Robert Valcourt
Jul 19, 2016
By Robert Valcourt

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