IT for beginners can challenge the new learner to do new things in new ways. But when you add a foreign language on top of that, it can feel almost impossible. If you have trouble working out where the edit button is when it is in English you might just give up if your computer is in Spanish, Chinese or how about Dutch.

So what can you do when your device is communicating with you in a language that you don't understand? In this article, I will guide you on the computing basics step by step through solutions to change the settings of your multilingual device to make sure that it is speaking your language again.


Selected the language of your choice.
Changing the language on your windows device is easy. Photo Source: Unsplash

Why Change The Language Of Your Computer?

First of all, it is good to know that most devices are multilingual. Which means that they can function in several languages. However, some of the cheaper devices are not programmed to have their language changed and may come with a single language pack. It is essential before purchasing any device abroad that you check that they can be changed into your preferred language.

There are several reasons why you might want to change to language of the device.

  1. You have accidentally changed the language of your device to a language that you don't speak.
  2. You have acquired a device which is in a foreign language that you don't speak.
  3. You are multilingual too and want to change your device to a language that you are learning or more comfortable with. This could also be useful if you are trying to practice a language.

I have often changed the language of my PC from English into other languages to practice my language skills. But when I brought a smartphone from China, I had to work out how to update the language settings into English. Here is to translating, fingers crossed, let's go!

Use the patform to see if the language was changed
Once change take effect open Microsoft word to check for success. Photo Source: Unsplash

How To Change The System Language Of A Windows PC?

Changing the language on your windows device is easy. There are a few steps to doing this and once you have selected the language of your choice. The whole computer will be updated with it. To be safe once you have saved the settings and then shut the computer down and restart. This is just to check and secure that the change will be permanent.

  1. Click the start menu. This is the menu button on the keyboard that looks like a window. It is located on most pcs and laptops on the far bottom left of your keyboard.
  2. Type ‘languages.’
  3. Now select ‘Region & Languages’ from the options
  4. Now make sure that the region that is select coincides with the language that you want your pc in.
  5. Now below this click ‘add a language.’
  6. You will be presented with all of the available languages that exist for the PC
  7. Click on your language of choice.
  8. You may see a pop up to tell you that changes are being made

Language Not Already Installed?

If the language is not installed, you will have to install it. This may or may not happen automatically.

  1.            Click the language that you have chosen to open a menu
  2.         Click options
  3.         Now click install to get the language pack on to your PC

Language already installed

  1.            If the language is already installed click ‘set as default.’
  2.         The last step is to restart your machine, and your language will be changed

* this is an example of how to change the language on Windows 10 operating system. While there may be slight differences to other windows operating systems, they do all function in a similar way.

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Still Can't Do It? Try This.

  • Watch this video for how to do this is in Window 10 here
  • Find your computer model at the bottom of your laptop, then google your ‘Laptop or PC model number + Change system language’.
  • Maybe your PC doesn't have English installed. Find your computer model at the bottom of your laptop, then google your ‘Laptop or PC model number + English language pack’(or the language of your choice)
  • Go to a PC store or ask a computer savvy friend
Using the mouse can help until the change happens.
If the language is not installed, you will have to install it. Photo Source: Unsplash

Change The System Language Of A Mac

When you want to change the language on your Mac machine, just click a few buttons and voila the change will be complete. It is fast and easy to do once you know where to look. Bear in mind that Mac computers come with many different version of their operating system. Therefore the step may be ever so slightly different.

  1. Go to the apple icon in the top left-hand corner
  2. Scroll to system preferences
  3. When the box opens, click the language and text option
  4.  You will be presented with a long list of languages. Choose yours. (If your language is not on the list you may be able to find it by clicking ‘edit list’)
  5. Now what you have to do is grab the language that you want with the cursor and drag it up to the very top of the list.
  6. Close the box
  7. Follow steps 1 and 2 to go back to system preferences and your Pc should have updated already.

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Still Can't Do It? Try This.

  • Watch this video and follow along to change the language in your Mac,  here
  • Type the brand of your Mac ‘Laptop or PC model number + Change system language’.
  • Ask a friend for help
  • If you know someone with the same laptop ask them to help you out by following the menu together
  • Go to the apple store and get them to help you.

How To Change The System Language Of Your Smart Phone?

Having your phone in another language can be a real bother, they are already small, and they can be hard to navigate if you don't know what you are doing. However, the benefit with phones is that everything is in an app and apps have icons. When you are trying to change the language of your phone, then you only have to look for the icon that corresponds with making language changes. Take a deep breath, it's quite easy.

Change iPhone Language

  1. Look for the gear icon which is the symbol for settings (it is black and grey and looks like a bike wheel). If you have another phone in English, you can take a look to see what the icon looks like and match it to your other phone.
  2. Next, you want to scroll down again, look for another gear icon, this is the icon for general.
  3. Now scroll to the very bottom of the screen.
  4. Count the sections going upwards and select the 4th option from the bottom which is Language and Region. Bear in mind that the settings option is slightly different with different iPhone versions.
  5. Now select the first option device language, and you should see the list of languages
  6. Find and select your language and click the text in the top right corner which says done.
  7. If a pop up shows click the top option. It is asking if you really want to change the language.
  8. Wait for your phone to update.

Change Android Language

While changing the language on an android is easy, the settings depend on the brand of phone and the version of the operating system. This is based on Android Oreo (8.1.0).

  1. Look for the gear icon which represents the settings area
  2. Scroll down and look for an icon with a circle with an ‘i’ in it. This is the systems area
  3. Now click the icon that looks like a world or at least a circle with horizontal and vertical lines going through it. This is the Languages and input area.
  4. Now click the first option, the icon has an A in it. This is the languages area
  5. Now click the + symbol and find your language

Still Can't Do It? Try This

  • Watch this video and try to mirror what you see on your iPhone, here
  • Follow along with this video to change the language in your android, here
  • Ask to see a friends phone if they have a similar model and use both phone side by side.
  • Go to a phone shop and ask them to help you
  • If you know the language and have a friend that speaks that language ask them for help
  • If you don't have a friend, who speaks that language but know of a restaurant that serves food from that country make a reservation and asks the waitress.
  • Go to the embassy and ask them to tell you where the setting is.

If after all of this you still can't change the language of your device, maybe it is a sign just to give in and learn the computers language. Although it can be challenging to use your device while they are not understandable. Enjoy the process and take it as an opportunity to learn a few new words as you find your way to the language settings. Once the multilingual adventure is over, you will find your device back in English or in the language of your choice. Happy translating!

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