Starting with WPML 4.3, WPML uses .mo files to deliver String Translation without loading the database. For this to work, WPML needs to be able to write to the languages folder whenever you translate strings.

If you are seeing a message that tells you that WPML cannot write .mo files, in 99% of the times, it’s a file permission problem. WPML is attempting to write to the languages folder in WordPress, but that folder is not accessible.

Granting write permission on your localhost

If you are developing locally, it’s easy to change the write permission of folders in the WordPress directory. You don’t need to open all paths for writing. Navigate to your WordPress installation, and then:

wp-content/languages

Make this folder writable.

Requesting your hosting company to grant write permission

Most hosting companies don’t allow you to modify the write permission for folders. If you are using a shared host or are using a managed host, you will need to request help to open this directory for writing.

Please note that you are asking to open a very safe folder. This is the same folder where WordPress itself stores .mo files that it downloads for you. WPML’s error message will give the full path of the folder that needs changing. Please copy/paste that path and ask your hosting company to make it writable, so that WPML can save its .mo files.

Using an older version of WPML that doesn’t require this write permission

If you cannot get the languages folder to be writable, you can always revert to the previous version of WPML, before 4.3.0.

Login to your WPML account and click on Downloads.

Next to each download, there’s an “i” (info) icon that allows accessing previous versions of WPML and its components.

Access previous versions

Then, download the last version pre-WPML 4.3.

Download an older version of WPML

You will also need to get the pre-4.3 versions of all other WPML components that your site is using.

WPML componentLast version before WPML 4.3
WPML core4.2.9
String Translation2.10.7
Translation Management2.8.8
Media Translation2.5.3
WooCommerce Multilingual4.6.7

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