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WPML allows each user to have a different admin language for WordPress. I’ll show how to determine this and set the locale so that WordPress admin displays correctly in each language.

Site languages versus admin language

WPML allows WordPress sites to run in different languages. This means that one language becomes the default language and other languages are added. So far, nothing new.

By default the default site language is also the admin language.

Without WPML, you can set the site’s language by setting the WPLANG variable in wp-config.php. When WPML is enabled, the WPLANG variable is ignored. Instead, WPML sets the site’s languages.

Visitors see the language according to the page they’re viewing. Admins can choose in which language to administrate WordPress. The default is to have the same language, but it can be changed.

Choosing a different Admin language

First, you need to put WPML into Advanced mode. To do this, click on Go Advanced at the top of any page in WPML’s menu.

Go to WPML->Languages. Then, scroll down to where it says Admin language.

Default admin language setting

You can choose any of the site’s languages there. Once set, WordPress admin pages will appear in that language, unless users select a different language for themselves (up next).

Individual admin language per user

If you’re running a multilingual site, it’s very likely that different authors would like to see things in different languages. WPML makes that possible.

Each user should go to the profile page (Users->Your profile). Scroll to the bottom to where it says WPML language settings. There are several settings there and right now, we’re interested in the admin language.

Look at where it says Select your language. The default value is to use the default admin language (which we just set before).

Admin language for each user

This setting is per user and whatever each user selects here doesn’t influence other users. Any user can select the admin language, which overrides the default values.

Making WordPress display correctly for each language

In order for WordPress to display correctly in different languages, you need to have the localization files installed and the correct locale selected per language.

WPML comes with default locales for most languages, but you need to install the localization files for WordPress.

To do this, go to WPML->Theme and plugins localization.

You can choose one of the two options, to use .mo files to translation by WPML. When you will see a table with locale values per language. This table will already include the correct locales, as WPML determines, but you can edit it.

Locale settings per language

WPML shows you if the .mo file for WordPress exists in the wp-includes/languages folder. If it says File exists, it means that WordPress admin will display in the correct language. Otherwise, you need to make sure that the .mo file is in place and that the locale code (Code field) is correct.

17 Responses to “Controlling admin language”

  1. Hey guys, nice to explain this feature to users that haven’t noticed it 😉

    anyway, there is a little mis-typo in title :p a “r” is missing !

    Enjoy keep pushing the good work !

  2. Is there a way to limit users as to what languages they can edit?

    Thanks for all the nice work.

  3. Hi,
    I have the wordpress installed in Czech and my file exists but still all wpml admin texts are in english, how can I translate those admin text for wpml?
    Thanks Radek

  4. Hi,
    how can I set an administrator language that is NOT one of the site’s languages? I would like to use English for administration, which is incidentally the language WP was installed in, but the website has no English content.

    • Sorry, you can’t. You can only set it to one of the site’s languages. What you can do is add a language and then hide it. This means that the site will not display that language anywhere (including in language switchers).

  5. How do you translate all of the admin in wp. e.g. all the menu titles on the left hand side.
    it seems that all your stuff has been translated, but not the standard part of wordpress. is this possible?
    also in the localisation of themes and plugins, in espanol (which is what i want to switch it to) under archivo MO en wp-content/languges it says it cannot find the file, and under the Archivo MO en /wp-content/themes/mytheme it says it does exist. not sure why, or what to do.
    thanks for your help.

    • You need to download translations for WordPress core. Until now, you’d have to do this manually. WPML 2.6.0 (currently in beta), will download translations for WordPress core automatically for you.

    • sorry to be a dunce. how do i do this. where do i find this. I haven’t updated to 2.6.0
      should i manually update to 2.6.0? or should i find this somewhere else. thanks for your help.

    • ok i found the core files, but these are the entire wordpress files – what i need is the wordpress admin environment to show in Spanish for my client and in english for me. so it’s the same as you describe in ‘individual admin language per user’ but where the entire environment for wordpress changes to spanish.
      is this possible?

      • Once you installed these .mo files, the translation should be available. Now, each user can go to Users->My Profile. There, scroll to the bottom and see the language preferences. This selects the admin language.

      • thanks for your response. unfortunately i actually didn’t find any language files here. it’s a bit confusing. i downloaded the complete core wordpress to my local computer but there are no language files in it. (except in the theme file). I’m not sure where i should be putting these language files even when i do find them. any ideas. thanks again.

  6. I’ve resolved it at last. i found the files .mo and .po that are named with a standard syntax e.g. es_ES and de_DE. The confusion is that there are many language files around the place that are named differently for different apps i guess. there should be one standard and one standard respository. thanks again for your great support.
    it’s also interesting that wp out of the box does not provide languages installed. (i think it used to before).

  7. Hi,

    every time I want to switch the “admin language” or a specific language for each User I get a memory error:

    “Fatal error: Allowed memory size of … bytes exhausted (tried to allocate … bytes) in …/wp-includes/pomo/mo.php on line …”

    So I just let it in english and didn´t change it.
    Now a Client wants the admin language in German.
    So I tried it again – same error.
    I have a good Hosting Plan with enough Memory and Disc Space.

    However – I realized there is a real easy solution for that problem.
    At least it works for me…

    In wp-config.php add the line:

    define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘…M’);

    (The three dots define the Memory Size)

    First I tried 64M – didn´t work. Then 128M – Suddenly everything worked great!

    I know that my Hosting-Plan has got 265M Memory – so I´m good with this Size.

    Maybe I could help someone with this.


    • The amount of memory that your site needs depends on many factors. It includes WordPress, the theme, all active plugins and the amount of content that you load. It’s difficult to say how much one plugin requires, because all plugins interact with each other, with your data and with WordPress.