How to Easily Revert an Accidental Language Change in OS X

OS X is localized to quite a number of languages, to suit the use of the software worldwide. With a few clicks, you can set the OS interface, as well as many programs, to display in a different language. Now, this can be very useful for multilingual types, but if you’ve accidentally changed your system to a language you don’t understand, you might find it difficult to revert back to English (or your preferred language.)

Luckily for you, if you’ve encountered a similar issue, we’ve got the solution for you. The thing is, if you do change the language, the layout essentially stays the same. There are two methods to easily switch back to your preferred language, either via. System Preferences, or by Terminal. We’ve detailed both of these methods below.

1. First, open “System Preferences” by opening the Apple Menu and selecting the fourth item on the list. It will be immediately under the first separator bar, as shown below:

Revert-Language-Change-OSX-System-Preferences

2. Next, in System Preferences, you need to open the “Language & Region preferences” (Language & Text in previous OS X version.) The icon for this will look like a blue flag with an icon on it. In OS X Mountain Lion and Mavericks, this is in the top row and fifth from the left.

Revert-Language-Change-OSX-Language-And-Region

Note: Its positioning may be slightly different in older versions of OS X.

3. Here, you’ll see a list of languages. Locate your preferred language, and drag it to the top of the list. (More languages can be added by clicking on the “Plus” icon.)

Revert-Language-Change-OSX-Language-List

(Note: If you’re using Mountain Lion or a previous OS X version, you’ll first have to select the first tab to see this list.)

Also, remember to switch your region using the “Region” tab so that your Mac has the correct time and date.

4. Once you’re finished, be sure to restart your computer once via the third entry from the bottom in the Apple menu:

Revert-Language-Change-OSX-Restart-Apple-Menu

If you’re having an issue with the method above, another option is to use Terminal in OS X to revert the system language. To do this:

1. Open Spotlight and type in “Terminal.” Open the entry with an icon of a black box with a little white text in it.

Revert-Language-Change-OSX-Terminal

2. In Terminal, simply enter the following command to delete the hidden global preferences file that holds your language settings.

defaults delete -g

Revert-Language-Change-OSX-Terminal-Command

Now, log out and back into your OS X account, and your language should be back to normal.