Thanks for coming to InDesignSecrets.com, the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign!

Change InDesign’s UI Language with Free App

Wow. Do you have an English version of InDesign but you wish the menus were in Italian? Do you have a Swedish version but you wish the dialog boxes were in English? I just found a free application on the Web that will change the UI (user interface) to any one of a dozen or so languages.

[Editor’s note: This script no longer works in later versions of Mac OS. And it doesn’t work in CS6 or CC. However, see links at bottom of this article for more options.]

Unfortunately, this app appears to be Mac OS only, but the fact that it works would imply that Adobe actually puts all those languages into the program. If so, then perhaps there is a trick on Windows that would do it, too. (My guess is that it has to do with the Registry. Everything seems to involve the Registry!)

The app works like this: You double-click the app and it asks you to find your copy of InDesign. (No, it doesn’t appear to work with anything other than ID.) Then you choose a language:

List of Languages

When you click OK, it quits. But the next time you launch InDesign, it’s in the different language! If you run the app again, it says it can restore you back to your original language, which is very handy.

Look, I have no idea if this causes any other weirdness with InDesign. One person on the InDesign team at Adobe who saw it said, “this is totally a ‘use at your own risk’ scenario.” But I was so excited that I went and tried a bunch of different languages, and it seems to work fine… with one significant exception: In CS4, all my panels and keyboard shortctuts disappeared! That’s bad. But I poked around for a while and found a workaround. More on that in a minute. But first, check out these two screen shots from my (US) copy of InDesign:

French New Document dialog

Swedish Menus

Not all the interface elements work perfectly. For example, sometimes text gets cut off weirdly:

Czech Text Problem

But in general, all the languages I tried seem to work okay.

Workspaces and Shortcuts

When I tested this in CS3, the panels and shortcuts all worked without a hiccup. But CS4 seems to be different, and it opens with no panels at all–not even a Tools panel! Fortunately, I found that you can manually choose each of the panels from the Window menu (or whatever that menu is called in the language you’re using). It’s tedious, but it mostly works. Note that at first, most of the panels are docked into a single panel:

language3

But there appears to be an easier way to “reset” the panels. At least this worked for me on my US English version. Tell me if it works in other languages.

First, note that in Applications/Adobe InDesign/Presets/InDesign Workspaces there is a folder called en_US. Let’s say you are switching to Russian. You need to duplicate the folder you have and call it ru_RU . Then, when you launch InDesign, you have to choose one of the workspaces (such as “Advanced”) from the Window>Workspace menu:

Choosing a default workspace

Similarly, you can get your keyboard shortcuts by duplicating the en_EN folder inside Presets/InDesign Shortcut Sets (and then renaming it, of course). Then, after launching InDesign, you have to choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts (using whatever language you’re in now) and choose Default from the Keyboard Shortcut set popup menu. When you click OK, the KBSC should work again.

Creating duplicate language folders

Of course, the tricky thing is to figure out what the duplicate folder should be named. For example, if you switch to German, it should be de_DE, Korean is ko_KR, and Finnish is he_IL… I think. Or maybe that’s Italian. I can’t remember. Here is the trick to finding out: After you switch to a language and launch InDesign, the program creates a new folder inside the Home/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/Version 6.0 folder. Look inside that folder and you will see how InDesign named the folder. Use that same name in the Presets locations above!

Fortunately, you only have to do this once for each language you want to use.

How Good is the Translation?

My foreign language experience is limited to high school Spanish and the ability to order a beer in Germany and Japan. So I cannot pass judgement on how good these translations are. From what I’ve heard from other users, this may not be exactly the same as the versions that Adobe ships in other countries, but it’s pretty close.

One person I talked with also pointed out that changing your version of InDesign may break the terms of your license agreement with Adobe. So I’m not encouraging you or inciting you to do this! But I have to tell you that it’s dang cool that this little app works at all, as it’s something I’ve wanted to be able to do ever since I started demoing InDesign to groups overseas. (Quark Passport used to have a menu item right in the program that let you do this. Very convenient!)

Oh, that reminds me of something else: Changing the user interface language doesn’t add any additional features. For example, you can change the UI to Japanese, but that won’t give you any of the cool Japanese features (rubi, vertical text, and so on). And I found it interesting that you can not change the language to Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Chinese, or Klingon. (Yes, there is an “Other” field, so I felt compelled to try.)

If you decide you want to use it, you can download it from here. Let me know (below) what works and (if anything) what doesn’t.

Update: Some users have had trouble with that app in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). Here is an updated version that should work!

Update 2: If you’re using CS6 or CC or later, you’ll need this newer technique.

Update 3: If you’re using CS3, CS4, or CS5 with a new Mac OS, the app itself may not work. Here’s a (geeky, technical) way to do it manually.

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at Lynda.com are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at 63p.com.
David Blatner

Latest posts by David Blatner (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
Tags
Related Articles
Comments

114 Comments on “Change InDesign’s UI Language with Free App

  1. I keep getting a message that says it no longer runs power PC applications when I run this :/ am I doing something wrong? this is indesign 5 and I am running Lion 10.7.3

  2. @Steven: Yes, see the link at the end of the blog post that directs to the new Lion version.

    It appears that this script no longer works in CS6, but you’re still on CS5, so that’s good.

    • I had the same problem. But onnce I turning off the GateKeeper, the app’s doing fine. Thank you very much :)

  3. Thanks for the advice on this. Installed the ChangeIDmenulanguage_lion app and changed the language of my CS5 Indesign to English.

    Now the problem is that all of the numbers (0~9) are in Arabic working within a document. Outside of the document and within the menus, the numbers are normal.

    I even tried installing a new font from an English website and it converted the numbers to Arabic.

    The default dictionary was also in Arabic when we restarted the program. I’ve tried reusing the changeIDmenulanguage app to reinstall English, but it doesn’t work.

    Anyone know how to change the working numbers within a document from Arabic to English?

  4. I’m having the same issue as Jordan. Recently changed my Indesign from Greek to English however numbers remain in Greek! Can anyone help here please????

    Thanks,

    B

  5. hey i downloaded the changeIDmenuLanguage app but i open the zip file and get this response ” You cant open the application because PowerPC applications are no longer supported”
    can anybody help me

  6. Hey guys, any tips about the message from apple “Can’t open PowerPC applications”… ???

    Please help me, greek language is just hurting my eyes :)

  7. Seems to work with CS7 in OSX 10.7.5.

    Though during startup the program says it seems to be damaged and that I should reinstall.
    Did not comply, of course.

    Marie who changed from greek to swedish.

  8. Hi everybody

    I made it on my greek version.

    First of all i duplicated the folder (el_GR – it_IT) for the 2 folders.
    Afterwards I launched the language app (IT).

    Everything is ok but worspace doesn’t appear.

    I found it out by clicking on the 4th of workspace (don’t know what it is, i cant get Greek).

    it worked out

  9. I’m running 10.8.3 and get an error message that says that the app is damaged and cant be opened. Any fix for this?

  10. We’ve moved to a new server system and we’re having some trouble with the files; please try back in a couple of days and it should be available again.

    • Vanessa. Go to System Preferences> Security & Privacy>

      Then allow “Applications downloaded from anywhere”

      That should fix it. Did for me :)

  11. This language change Lion app worked great for me. The only issue now seems to be the workspace toolbar is still showing up in the original language. Can the workspace be changed too?

    Hopefully there is a solution to change 100% of the language. Thanks!

  12. Hi guys,
    Wont work with ID CS6. I’ve been playing around with the language files, tried renaming them, and swapping them around etc. as was the fix for some of the other applications within CS6.

    Can anyone point me in the right direction? I’m happy to dive around in the language files if required (although if this app worked with CS6, it’d be quicker and simpler).

    Cheers

  13. Hi, my numbers remain in greek or arabe. This concerns only the working document. How can I change this?? If i type 1,2,3 or other numbers i only see greek numbers…

  14. To fix the problem with numbers, you need to go into the paragraph style settings. Under ‘middle east character formats’, make sure ‘digits’ says ‘arabic’. In indents and spacing, change ‘paragraph direction’ to ‘left to right’.

    I also found that the shortcuts problem could be taken care of by opening ‘keyboard shortcuts’ under ‘edit’ and toggling through all the options (not changing any) then pressing okay.

    • HEY Catherine,
      everything worked but i wasnt able to change the keyboard shortcuts back,
      so i tried what you said about toggling through all the options.
      however, it shot me a message saying ”cant update the file for the set ””. the set ”” is probably locked.’

      any ideas on how to fix this or other alternative methods to get the keyboard shortcuts back? i cant even navigate with the arrows, it’s maddening.
      thank you!

  15. I’m running greek cs5 on Mountain Lion, and I still can’t get the updated version of the app to work. My GateKeeper preferences are set to allow all apps, whether or not they are sanctioned by apple. Every time I try to run the language change app, I get a message that says “Application not Running”, and I never get the dialogue box that tells me which language to select. Naturally my InDesign is still in Greek. Can anyone help me out here? I’m running disk utilities on my mac but somehow I doubt that will help…

  16. Same problem as Jordan – Mac OSX 10.7.5, Indesign CS6
    How to switch the interface language from Russian to English?
    Please HELP!!!

      • Hi,
        I am using Indesign CS5 on Yosemite. I have been getting this error “You can’t open the application “ChangeIDmenuLanguage” because PowerPC applications are no longer supported.”

        Any help on this please is appreciated.

  17. Worked like a charm to disable the security Gateway and then run the application to switch to English.

    Perfect! Thank you!

    T

  18. I Have mac 0s 10.9.5, nothings works to change my language which is greek! I tried everything you said, is there another way?? Thanks

  19. Hello! How can I do to change the indesign language which was installed with german language to english version?
    thanks,

  20. Hey david, thanks a bunch, this is a life saving feature for those of us working out of our home countries.
    i was able to change the language, everything worked/
    but i wasnt able to put back the keyboard shortcuts.

    i duplicated the folder, renamed it in english, but when i go to
    Edit > Keyboard Shortcut, i can not choose Default from the popup menu. i can not click on that menu to open it, and when i try New Set… or Show Set… nothing happens. i am able to open the other popup menu Product Area, and navigate through the different menus, but is there a way to not have to rewrite every command? i am not even aware of them.

    then i tried what Catherine said earlier about toggling through all the options.
    however, when i hit ok it shot me a message saying ”cant update the file for the set ””. the set ”” is probably locked.’

    any ideas on how to fix this or other alternative methods to get the keyboard shortcuts back? i cant even navigate with the arrows, it’s maddening.
    thank you!

  21. Doesn’t work on OS X El Capitan 10.11.2. Says “file is damaged”, even the newest one (i tried all links on this site). Do anyone have any solutions for this?

  22. I finally get it working! That:
    “Update: Some users have had trouble with that app in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). Here is an updated version that should work!”

    -file.

    It said first its damaged but when i changed mac privacy settings it worked perfectly. Thank you!

    ///If the file comes up damaged in OSX 9.5 (Mavericks) you can solve it by going to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> Click little padlock to make changes -> Type your password -> Choose “Everywhere” in the previously greyed out, now clickable area.

  23. If you’re using CS3, CS4, or CS5 and the app doesn’t work for you (because of your Mac operating system), I think I may have found a solution. It’s geeky and potentially dangerous, but it seems to work.

    0. Quit InDesign first.
    1. Right-click the InDesign application and choose Show Package Contents
    2. Navigate to: /Applications/Adobe InDesign CS4/Adobe InDesign CS4.app/Contents/Info.plist
    3. Use a plist editor utility (there are free ones you can find on the web, like Pref Setter) to open that plist file
    4. Look for a key in the plist file called CFBundleDevelopmentRegion
    5. In the US version, this says “English”. Try changing it to Spanish or some other language (Swedish, French, Dutch, German, Greek, Norwegian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Italian, etc.), then save the plist and relaunch InDesign.
    6. You’ll likely have the same workspace problems described in the article above, so read that over to see how to get your panels back.

    Warning: I don’t actually know if this violates the EULA, and I am not responsible if it messes up your copy of InDesign. Make sure you have a backup. It worked for me, and it appears to be how the applescript above works.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *