How to Download WordPress in Any Language

How to Download WordPress in Any Language

The WordPress admin is fairly straightforward to use no matter where you live in the world since it has been translated into many different languages. The trickiest part is knowing where to grab a translated copy.

While WordPress can be downloaded in US English by default, the download page doesn’t provide any obvious directions on how to download and setup WordPress in any language you choose.

Not to worry. Today, I’ll show you how to download WordPress and set it up in a different language for newer and older versions. I’ll also show you how to accomplish this manually.

Don’t forget: If you run into problems along the way, our expert support team are around 24/7/365 to help you out for free, even if you’re not a member yet.  

Download a Copy of WordPress

When you download a copy of WordPress, there are two options available for choosing your preferred language for the admin dashboard. You can download a copy, install it, then choose a language in the settings or you can download a translated copy straight away.

Translate WordPress after Installing It

Visit the main page and click on the Download bottom toward the top.

Click the Download button to get started.
Click the Download button to get started.

Next, click the Download WordPress button for the ZIP file or click the Download .tar.gz link for the GZIP compressed version. Save the file to your computer, then Install WordPress.

For details, check out A Guide to the Best Ways to Install WordPress.

Once that’s done, go to your admin dashboard, then click on Settings > General. Then, scroll to the bottom of the page and find the Site Language drop down box. Select the language you want to use for the WordPress back end and then click the Save Changes button.

WordPress General Settings page
Select the language you want and then save your changes.

For Multisite Networks, go to your super admin dashboard and click on Settings > Network Settings. Find the Default Language drop-down box and select the language you want to use, then click Save Changes at the bottom.

Multisite Network Settings Page
For Multisite, you can choose a language in the Network Settings.

At this point, the translation file is installed to your site. Your WordPress admin dashboard should now be displayed in the language you chose.

Download WordPress Translated

In addition to choosing a language for the WordPress back end through the settings, you can also download a translated copy of WordPress.

To do this, start by visiting the main page and in your address bar, add the language code and a period right after https://. You can find the language code you need by visiting the Translating WordPress page.

Locate the language you want to use on the list. The language code you need is listed third.

Translating WordPress site
The language code for a WordPress translation is listed third for each language.

For example, the language code for Afar is aa. This means you would enter it into your address bar so the URL looks like this:

Next, press Enter or Return on your keyboard to visit the translated homepage.

Keep in mind that not every language has a full translation. The green line at the bottom of each listed language displays how much has been translated.

If the green bar runs the full length of the box displaying details for a given language and it also has a green border, the translation is complete. If the line only reaches part way through the box, the translation isn’t fully finished.

Once you have reached the translated WordPress homepage, scroll down to the Download section and click on the Download WordPress button to save the ZIP file to your computer.

Alternatively, you could click the Download .tar.gz link to save a GZIP compressed copy.

The website translated in Canadian English.
Download a translated copy of WordPress.

Install WordPress and you should see the text in your admin dashboard has been translated. For details, check out A Guide to the Best Ways to Install WordPress.

Manual Language Selection

If you encounter a problem automatically installing an international version of WordPress or you installed a fresh WordPress site in your language and it didn’t work, you can take the manual route.

Begin by going to the Translating WordPress Projects page and choosing a version. It’s recommended you choose the latest version available, which is most secure.

Next, choose the language you wish to install from the list.

List of WordPress translations
Choose a language from the list.

Scroll to the bottom of the next page and click the drop down box that displays Portable Object Message Catalog (.po/.pot) and select Machine Object Message Catalog (.mo) instead.

Then, click the Export link on the left and save the file to your computer.

Translation file drop down box
Export the Machine Object Message Catalog file.

The final steps are to create a new folder on your server and upload this file into it. You can do this through SSH, FTP or through a control panel such as cPanel.In the /wp-content/ directory, create a new folder and rename it to languages. Upload your saved .mo file to your new /wp-content/languages/ folder.

You can now access your WordPress admin dashboard and choose the language you installed in the WordPress settings as described earlier.

Once that’s done, your admin dashboard should be in the language you installed.

It may be important to note that if you made a mistake during this process or the language you want to display hasn’t been selected, the default US English is used.

Older Versions of WordPress

For WordPress versions 3.9.2 and below, you need to edit your wp-config.php file in order to select a different language for the admin dashboard.

You can download the wp-config.php file and edit it with a code editor, or you can edit it directly on your server via SSH, cPanel or certain FTP programs such as FileZilla.

When you have opened the file for editing, find the following line:

In the in the last set of quotations, add the language code you want as mentioned earlier. It’s listed third for each language on the Translating WordPress Locales page.

For example, if you wanted your admin dashboard to be displayed in Columbian Spanish, the above line should be changed to the following:

Similarly, if you want to display Arabic in your admin dashboard, you would change the line above to this:

Once you’re done editing the file, save it and if you downloaded a copy, upload it back to your server, replacing the original copy.

You can go back to your admin dashboard now and you should see that the language you chose is displayed.

Wrapping Up

It can be difficult to know how to get the WordPress admin dashboard to display text in your language because it’s not particularly obvious. Now you know how to make it happen, even if you encounter an error along the way or you have an older version of WordPress installed.

You can also check out the Installing WordPress in Your Language page in the WordPress Codex.

Were you able to successfully set up an international version of WordPress? What tools do you use for translating content in WordPress? What language do you use for your admin dashboard? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.
Jenni McKinnon
Jenni McKinnon A copywriter, copy editor, web developer and course instructor, Jenni has spent over 15 years developing websites and almost as long for WordPress. A self-described WordPress nerd, she enjoys watching The Simpsons and names her test sites after references from the show.