Changing the current language

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Audacity can display in many non-English languages. Current versions of Audacity automatically run in the language the operating system uses. To change language, use the Interface Preferences, or exit Audacity and modify the audacity.cfg settings file.
The language setting persists in audacity.cfg, even if Audacity is re-installed.


Change language in the program

In current Audacity, go to the Interface Preferences, choose the specific language required from the "Language" box, then click OK. Most of the interface will change language at once, but a very few interface elements will change next time you restart Audacity.

Navigating the menus in an unfamiliar language

If you cannot read the menus because the text is in an unfamiliar language or has ??? characters, you can navigate the menus sequentially to change the language.

  1. Choose the second menu from the left in the Audacity menus at top left of the screen (on Mac, click on the first menu from the left)
  2. Choose the bottom item of that menu, which opens the Preferences
  3. In the list on the left of Preferences, choose the fifth item from the top
  4. On the right, open the drop-down box containing a list of the language choices
  5. Select the language you want and press "ENTER" on your keyboard.

Legacy Audacity 1.2 and 1.3

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences (Audacity > Preferences on a Mac computer).
  2. Find the Interface tab along the top of Preferences (or in the left panel in Audacity 1.3).
  3. Choose the specific language required in the "Language" box.
  4. Click OK then File > Exit (Audacity > Quit Audacity on Mac) to restart if the language in the menus has not changed.

If you cannot read the menus because the text is in an unfamiliar language or has ??? characters, try the following steps.

  1. Choose the second menu from the left in the Audacity menus top left of the screen (note: first menu from the left on Mac).
  2. Choose the bottom item of that menu. This opens the Preferences.
    • In a 1.2 version of Audacity, choose the sixth tab from the left (you may have to click on the pointing arrows top right of the Preferences window to reveal this tab). In this tab you will see a box containing a list of the language choices. Select the language you want and press "ENTER" on your keyboard.
    • In a 1.3 version of Audacity, the tabs of the Preferences are laid out in a panel on the left, so click on the 6th tab from the top in that left-hand panel (fourth tab from the top in Audacity 1.3.5 to 1.3.7, fifth tab from the top in 1.3.8 or later). Then find the drop-down box that contains the list of languages.
  3. Exit Audacity by choosing the first tab on the left in the Audacity menus then on the bottom item of that menu, then re-launch it (this step is not essential in Audacity 1.3.5 or later).

Missing language choices

In any version of Audacity, if only "English" or "System" choices are in the Languages box, ensure the "Languages" folder is in the correct location as follows:

  • Windows: C:\Program Files\<your Audacity version>\Languages
  • OS X: /Applications/audacity/Languages
  • Linux: /usr/share/locale if Audacity was installed from a repository package, or /usr/local/share/locale if you compiled Audacity from source code.

Change language in the system settings

The below methods work with current Audacity and the legacy 1.3 versions (except 1.3.0).

Alternatively, you can quit Audacity and edit the audacity.cfg settings file. The .cfg file can be edited with any text editor. The Audacity settings folder is located at:

  • Windows 98/ME: Windows\Application Data\Audacity
  • Windows 2000/XP: Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Audacity
  • Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8: Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Audacity
  • OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/audacity
  • Linux: ~/.audacity-data

To change language, find the line [Locale] in the .cfg file and change the line underneath it to your preferred language using the two-digit ISO 639-1 code here. For example, "Language=en" (without quotes) sets English or "Language=de" sets German.

If the two lines for Locale do not exist (which will be the case if Audacity has only ever run in the system language) add the lines as in this example:



Now save audacity.cfg, restart Audacity and it will launch in your chosen language.

Quicker fixes without finding the two-digit ISO code

If you delete the [Locale] line and the line under that, save the changes then restart Audacity, this will make Audacity run in the language the operating system runs in.

If you have (or ever had) the legacy Audacity 1.2 version running in your preferred language, delete audacity.cfg. Audacity will then take its language and other 1.2 settings from the stored 1.2 values. Preference settings which have no equivalent in 1.2 will return to default.

Legacy Audacity 1.2 and 1.3.0

To change language in the system settings, first exit Audacity, then locate the settings file as follows:

  • Windows: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Audacity\ in the Windows Registry
  • OS X: /SystemDrive/Users/<username>/Library/Preferences/audacity Preferences/audacity
  • Linux: the file ~/.audacity

In the settings there is a preference value under "Locale" called "Language". Set this value to that of your preferred language, then Audacity will run in that language. For example, if you set this value to "en" (without quotes) the language will be English, "de" will set the language to German and so on. You can view the two-digit ISO 639-1 codes here.

Alternatively, either delete the "Locale" line in the "audacity" file or the "Locale" Registry key at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Audacity\Audacity\Locale.

You will then be asked to choose the language again the next time you run Audacity.

Warning icon Modifying the Windows Registry can be dangerous! Before modifying the Registry, always back it up or set a System Restore point (on XP or later). To access System Restore, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.

Windows users wanting to revert to English language without editing the Registry directly can instead go here, scroll to the bottom of the page and right-click over "Audacity reset Preferences .reg file for Windows". Save this .reg file to your drive, then double-click it and click "yes" when asked if you want to add the information to the Registry. Note this will reset most of your Audacity Preferences to safe default values, in addition to setting the language to English.

Supported non-English languages

As well as US English, the Audacity software supports a significant number of other languages. There are no localised versions of Audacity. Instead, single versions of Audacity for the various operating platforms are shipped with a "Languages" folder containing gettext .mo files. These files are then used to display the different languages.

Warning icon All translations are provided by volunteers and may at times be incomplete. Any untranslated parts of the software will appear in English. We are always looking for new volunteers to help translate not only Audacity itself but also the main Audacity web site and Manual.

Unicode characters

Current versions of Audacity are Unicode (except for ANSI builds intended for Windows 98/ME). These versions should display non-English languages correctly on any localisation of the operating system if the system supports that language.

Legacy 1.2 versions of Audacity are not Unicode. Therefore languages containing non-Latin characters may not automatically display correctly unless the operating system is installed in that language. For example, to make Audacity 1.2 display Russian correctly on Windows installed in English, go to the Regional and Language Options in the Windows Control Panel, then choose Russian as the language for non-Unicode applications. For some languages you may have to install additional operating system support, such as for East Asian or right-to-left languages.

Supported non-English languages in current Audacity (50)

  • af Afrikaans
  • ar Arabic
  • eu Basque
  • be Belarusian
  • bn Bengali
  • bs Bosnian
  • bg Bulgarian
  • my Burmese
  • ca Catalan
  • zh Chinese (Simplified)
  • zh_TW Chinese (Taiwan)
  • hr Croatian
  • cy Cymraeg (Welsh)
  • cs Czech
  • da Danish
  • nl Dutch
  • fa Farsi (Persian)
  • fi Finnish
  • fr French
  • ga Gaelige
  • gl Galician
  • ka Georgian
  • de German
  • el Greek
  • he Hebrew
  • hi Hindi
  • hu Hungarian
  • id Indonesian
  • it Italian
  • ja Japanese
  • km Khmer
  • ko Korean
  • lt Lithuanian
  • mk Macedonian
  • nb Norwegian (Bokmal)
  • oc Occitan
  • pl Polish
  • pt Portuguese
  • pt_BR Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • ro Romanian
  • ru Russian
  • sr_RS Serbian (Cyrillic)
  • sr_RS@latin Serbian (Latin)
  • sk Slovak
  • sl Slovenian
  • es Spanish
  • sv Swedish
  • tg Tajik
  • tr Turkish
  • uk Ukrainian
  • ca_valencia Valencian
  • vi Vietnamese

Languages struck out have written translations but won't appear in Audacity until wxWidgets supports them.

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