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Change the UI Language in InDesign CS6 and CC

Changing the language of InDesign’s menus, dialog boxes, and panels has been important for thousands of users around the world for years — after all, if you need to use the English version of InDesign but you’re Swedish, you’re probably going to use it more efficiently if it’s in your native language!

Unfortunately, Adobe has not made it easy to change the UI language. There have been some script-based hacks around this UI language problem, but they stopped working in CS6.

But there is a way, it appears to work in both the CS6 and CC versions of InDesign, and it doesn’t even require a script.

To change the UI language, you need to first find the Presets folder, inside the application folder. In other words, on the Mac, open Applications > Adobe InDesign > Presets. Inside this folder is another folder called InDesign Shortcut Sets. Open that, and you’ll find a folder with a cryptic name. Because I use an American version of InDesign, the folder in there is called en_US.

Okay, ready for the trick? Change the name of that folder, then restart InDesign. You’ll immediately see the language change. (You’ll also see some other problems, but I’ll tell you how to fix that in a moment.)

But what name should you give that folder? Here’s a list of a few I’ve tried (see note at end of blog post for the ones with an * ):

  • Arabic, use ar_AE*
  • Chinese, use zh_CN
  • Czech, use cs_CZ
  • Danish, use da_DK
  • Dutch, use nl_NL
  • German, use de_DE
  • Greek, use el_GR*
  • Finnish, use fi_FI
  • French, use fr_FR
  • Hebrew, use he_IL*
  • Italian, use it_IT
  • Japanese, use ja_JP
  • Korean, use ko_KR
  • Norwegian, use nb_NO
  • Polish, use pl_PL
  • Portuguese, use pt_BR
  • Russian, use ru_RU
  • Spanish, use es_ES
  • Swedish, use sv_SE

Minor Menu Problems

You’ll see two problems when changing the UI language. First, some menu items aren’t translated at all. For example, here’s my Window menu, after changing to Chinese:

some menu items aren't translated

Almost all the menu items are translated, but some aren’t. There’s really nothing you can do about that. (By the way, the Resources Panel feature you see here is a project I’m working on with some brilliant friends. More on that at InDesignSecrets before too long, I hope!)

Major Workspace Problems (and an easy fix)

The bigger problem you’ll notice is that your workspace pretty much disappears… no panels, no dock… it’s a very clean “zen-like” workspace, but it’s not very helpful to work in!

Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy solution: Change the name of another folder! Back in the application folder, look inside that Presets folder for another folder called InDesign Workspaces. Inside that, you’ll find another folder. Change it to the same language code, and re-launch InDesign:

changing the folder names

Now you’ll be able to choose a workspace from the little Workspace pop-up menu in the tiny Control panel:

choosing a workspace

Notice that the workspace names are all in English on my system, and they are not translated above. But when I choose one, I get to see all the panels and features I’m used to!

choosing a new UI language

Changing the UI for InDesign is incredibly useful for many people. I’m glad that it’s not too difficult to do now!

Note, however, that changing the UI does not necessarily give you any additional features. For example, if you change it to Japanese, you don’t get the additional CJK features (for typesetting vertically, etc.); if you change it to Hebrew or Arabic, you don’t get the right-to-left (RTL) features. Check out the World Tools plug-ins for that.

*One More Note

A little birdy at Adobe told me that I really should emphasize: This is not a supported or documented feature by Adobe! It’s a hack, and while it appears to work pretty well, Adobe (and me!) does not guarantee that it will work the way you want/expect. The Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew languages, in particular, were noted to be “unsupported” (they appear to work for me, but I don’t speak those languages, so I don’t know if it really is working or not). See the comments below for other methods for changing UI language.

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

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  • - November 30, -0001
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86 Comments on “Change the UI Language in InDesign CS6 and CC

  1. attention everyone, changing the language this way does deactivate all menus, all presets, all shortcuts! (not even undo is available that way)

    -cs6, macbook

  2. Hi, Dave. Thanks a lot. Very useful tips.
    For those of you who have lost the original shortcuts after changing the Indesign language, try this:

    1. Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts->Set: choose [Default] (or your preferred set)

  3. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the tips, and those in the comments. I was able to get my Chinese Indesign to switch to English UI but still keep CJK functions.

    This is how I did it, and I know it’s a bit redundant but I was just testing around to get the best way to do this without ‘broken’ UI problems.

    For those who need special Indesign typesetting functions and don’t want to get World Tools:
    1. Change Creative Cloud ‘Preferences’ to your desired UI language, English in my case, and download Indesign.
    2. Go to ‘Application/Indesign CC/Presents’, and grab the ‘en_US’ folders in these two folders: ‘InDesign Shortcut Sets’ and ‘Indesign_Workspaces’. Keep a copy somewhere, you’ll need it soon.
    3. Change Creative Cloud ‘Preferences’ to that of your desired Indesign version, here it’s Chinese (Simplified) with CJK function.
    4. Exit ‘Preferences’ and download Indesign again (the button should say ‘Try’).
    5. Go to the ‘Presents’ folder, check if the folders in step 2 each have only a ‘zh_CN’ folder (in my case).
    6. Make a back up of the 2 ‘zh_CN’ folders (just in case) and then delete them.
    7. Drop the language folder of your desired UI in, here it’s en_US.
    8. Open Indesign and it should be running with Chinese functions such as composite fonts, Mojikumi settings, functioning workspace, shortcuts and all with English UI!

    ***As you do this, it would be good to open Indesign after each download to see if the language has switched over. Do quit the app fully after each change in the ‘Presents’ folder

    Let me know if anything needs clarification :)
    Hope this helps those who want to use CJK with English UI!

  4. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the tips, and those in the comments. I was able to get my Chinese Indesign to switch to English UI but still keep CJK functions.
    This is how I did it, and I know it’s a bit redundant but I was just testing around to get the best way to do this without ‘broken’ UI problems.
    For those who need special Indesign typesetting functions and don’t want to get World Tools:
    1. Change Creative Cloud ‘Preferences’ to your desired UI language, English in my case, and download Indesign.
    2. Go to ‘Application/Indesign CC/Presents’, and grab the ‘en_US’ folders in these two folders: ‘InDesign Shortcut Sets’ and ‘Indesign_Workspaces’. Keep a copy somewhere, you’ll need it soon.
    3. Change Creative Cloud ‘Preferences’ to that of your desired Indesign version, here it’s Chinese (Simplified) with CJK function.
    4. Exit ‘Preferences’ and download Indesign again (the button should say ‘Try’).
    5. Go to the ‘Presents’ folder, check if the folders in step 2 each have only a ‘zh_CN’ folder (in my case).
    6. Make a back up of the 2 ‘zh_CN’ folders (just in case) and then delete them.
    7. Drop the language folder of your desired UI in, here it’s en_US.
    8. Open Indesign and it should be running with Chinese functions such as composite fonts, Mojikumi settings, functioning workspace, shortcuts and all with English UI!
    ***As you do this, it would be good to open Indesign after each download to see if the language has switched over. Do quit the app fully after each change in the ‘Presents’ folder
    Let me know if anything needs clarification :)
    Hope this helps those who want to use CJK with English UI!

  5. Hi Dave,
    I was able to get my English Indesign CS6 to switch to German. But there is one Problem. The moment I startet Indesign there is the error message that my trial version ends soon altough I bougt a regular Version with correct serial number by an adobe seller. Can anybody help me?
    Thanks a lot

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