Do Your Foreign Language Translations on Your Mac Desktop With iTranslate

For those of you who deal in two or more languages, you will know the following situation only too well. You want to translate a word from your native language into one of the other languages that you speak (or vice versa). So with a sigh (because it’s SO much effort!), you open up a new browser tab and navigate to Google Translate. Now doing that once is fine, but what if you have to constantly go back and forth to Google Translate all day long? It won’t be long before you are cursing in a dozen ancient extinct tribal languages.

If you are using Mac OSX and have a spare $5 lying around that you fancy spending, then there is an app called iTranslate which will make your foreign language translation needs 100 times … nay, 1,000 times easier.  It’s not often that a piece of software makes me happy like this, but iTranslate has sped up my translating and made it feel less of a drag.

So what is it? Quite simply, it’s a drop-down box that sits on the top bar of your Mac OSX screen (next to the clock and the WiFi icon). When you need to translate something, you either use the mouse, trackpad, or a hotkey to open the box like so:


Now you will notice an anchor icon sitting at the top left hand corner. If you click that, the box will stay pinned on top of all other windows. This is extremely useful if you want to keep your translation in front of all the other browser tabs.

The first thing you need to do is select what two languages you are going to be translating between. In my case, it’s English (my native language), and German (because I live in Germany).


You may be wondering what the other little icon is next to some of the languages. As best as I can tell, this means that you will be able to get the translation read back to you by the app. This is the killer feature that made me pay the $5 because my pronunciation is terrible!

So with the language you are translating from in the first box, and the language you are translating to in the second box, it’s time to do some translating. Off the top of my head, let’s do my favourite word – schmetterling, which is German for butterfly.


As you begin to type, it gives you a Google-like suggestions box, suggesting what you might be looking for. If it comes up with the word (and it has), then click on it. After a brief delay of a few seconds, you will get the translation in the second box.


Let’s assume for a moment that you have no idea how to pronounce “butterfly” (difficult word, isn’t it?). Make sure you have it right by pressing the audio icon on the right. Make sure your speakers are on and you will hear the word being spoken. Want to hear the other word (schmetterling) being spoken? Click on those curly arrows in the middle and the words will be switched around. Then press the audio icon again.

That is pretty much it. The beauty of iTranslate is in its simplicity. No needless bells or whistles, no bloat weighing it down. Just your foreign language dictionaries on hand whenever you need them. Spend that $5; it’s the best investment you’ll ever make.

Mark O'Neill Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is a freelance journalist, editor, and bibliophile, who has been writing for 25+ years. From 2007-2013, he was the Managing Editor of Originally from Scotland, he now lives in Germany with his wife and his crazy dog.