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August 16, 2023

If you’re running a WordPress site with multiple languages, you may be looking for tools to help with translations. Two popular options are Loco Translate and WPML. In this article, we compare Loco Translate and WPML to help you decide which tool is the best for your needs.

Translation Capabilities

Loco Translate is a plugin for translating text from themes and plugins and can be useful for sites in one language (that’s not English). 

WPML, on the other hand, is a full-featured multilingual plugin that can translate content, as well as themes and plugins. 

In other words, if you need to translate your site’s content, Loco Translate is not enough and you should use WPML.

Running WPML already?

If you’re already using WPML, there’s no need to also use Loco Translate. WPML provides you with all the features you need. 

Also, any unnecessary plugins will just slow your site and cause confusion about where to do what.

Automatic Translation

Loco Translate offers manual translation, which means that you will need to translate everything yourself.

WPML offers both manual and automatic translation for both content and strings.

Automatic translation in WPML uses machine translation services from Google, Microsoft Azure, and DeepL. These services use artificial intelligence and neural networks to provide translations that are generally accurate and can save a lot of time compared to manual translation.

The automatic translations are always editable, so you can refine them as needed to ensure that they accurately reflect the intended meaning.


Loco Translate is a free plugin that allows you to translate text from themes and plugins. 

WPML is a paid plugin that provides full multilingual capabilities for your website. WPML’s Multilingual CMS package, which includes everything you need for multilingual websites, starts at €99 for a one-year subscription.

Migrating from Loco Translate to WPML

If you already have translations done using Loco Translate, you can easily migrate them to WPML. 

In our example, we’ll work with strings coming from a plugin but the procedure is the same for themes.

Step 1: Install the WPML and WPML String Translation plugins

Start by installing WPML and WPML String Translation plugin. 

After activation, finish the WPML setup wizard as described in our getting started guide.

Step 2: Scan the plugin or theme in question for texts

Go to WPMLTheme and plugins localization, select the plugin or theme, and click to scan it.

Scanning the plugin for texts using WPML

Go to WPML String Translation and you will now see all the strings coming from that plugin or theme. You will notice that they are not translated (plus icons).

Text strings scanned by WPML and listed on the String Translation page

Step 3: Move Loco Translate translations to WPML

Go to Loco TranslatePlugins, click on the plugin’s name, and then on the language you wish to export the strings for.

Click the PO button to download the language file with text strings.

Downloading the theme or plugin’s translations into a PO file

Now, go to WPMLString Translation and scroll down to the Import / export .po section and:

  1. Select the file to import
  2. Check the Also create translations according to the .po file option
  3. Select the plugin’s text domain
  4. Click Submit
Importing the language PO file using WPML String Translation

On the page that loads, review the list of found strings and click the Add selected strings button at the bottom.

Next, go to WPMLString Translation and filter by the plugin’s text domain. You will see a list of all imported strings and they will be marked as translated (pen icons).

All related text strings appear translated after importing the language PO file

Step 4: Disable Loco Translate and Verify Translations

Disable the Loco Translate plugin because you can now use WPML to translate all text strings. Unnecessary plugins only slow down your site.

Finally, check the imported translations. Make sure they appear correctly on your website. If needed, you can edit any texts from the WPMLString Translation page.


If you’re looking for a tool to translate text from themes and plugins in a site that is in one language, Loco Translate may be a good option for you. 

However, if you need to create a multilingual site, WPML is a better choice. WPML provides all the features that Loco Translate offers, plus full multilingual capabilities for your website. 

With WPML, you can translate content, themes, and plugins into multiple languages. Furthermore, WPML provides documentation, support, and easy migration from Loco Translate. 

So, depending on your needs, Loco Translate or WPML could be the best tool for your WordPress multilingual site.