Google Translate is probably the most well-known translation program out there – and with good reason. The tool encompasses a wide range of features and is constantly being improved, with Google always adding new options. Whether you’re just getting started with Google Translate or are a seasoned user, this comprehensive list of tips and tricks will help you get the most out of the service.
- Which Popular Languages Are Supported by Google Translate?
- How to Get Access to Google Translate
- How to Translate Text with Google Translate
- How to Translate Handwriting with Google Translate
- How to Translate Speech in Google Translate
- How to Translate Images with Google Translate
- How to Translate Documents in Google Translate
- Google Translate Advanced Options
- Additional Google Translate Options
- Frequently Asked Questions
Which Popular Languages Are Supported by Google Translate?
As of November 2021, Google Translate supports 109 languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Icelandic, Malay, Nepali, and Thai, just to name a few. While Google Translate can translate using multiple forms of text and media, these features aren’t supported by all languages. For instance, voice input is limited to only 45 languages from the list.
How to Get Access to Google Translate
The best way to experience Google Translate (Android | iOS) is through your mobile device, as it brings the most features. Nevertheless, there are some options that are only available in your browser.
How to Translate Text with Google Translate
Being able to easily translate text is a core feature of Google Translate. Whether you’re using your web browser on your PC or mobile device, the steps are quite similar.
On desktop, navigate to the Google Translate page or you can simply write something along the lines of “Translate in French” in the search bar to have a Google Search box show up for you.
On mobile, just open the app or use your browser to bring up the Google Translate box.
- On the left side of the screen, manually select the source language or the language you wish to translate from.
- It’s your choice whether you want to leave the default “Detect language” on and simply paste or type in your text. Google Translate will figure out which language this is, but if you want to make sure it gets it right, select the language yourself.
- On the right side of the screen, select the target language, i.e. the language you are translating to.
- Paste or type your text in the first box.
- The translation should immediately appear in the box below.
- Copy the translation by pressing the button underneath, then paste it anywhere – for instance, into a conversation you’re having or in a Word document.
How to Translate Handwriting with Google Translate
On mobile you can manually write the text you want translated. Follow the instructions below:
- Tap on the Pen icon underneath the target language.
- A new window with the prompt “Write here” will appear underneath.
- Use your finger to write in the source language (in this case, English).
- The translation should appear below in real time as you write the text.
- Once the translation is complete, you can tap the Speaker icon underneath the target language and have the phrases spoken.
This makes it super easy to ask questions when engaging with someone who doesn’t speak your language. It could be a colleague at work or someone you met during your travels abroad.
How to Translate Speech in Google Translate
You might not know this, but it’s possible to have translations rely on your voice only. Continuing from the example above, you could decipher what a foreigner you’ve met during your travels is saying simply by asking them to talk near your phone. It’s possible to use your voice as input for a translation even if you’re using Google Translate on your desktop, but the mobile alternative is much more useful.
- Tap the Speaker button on the right.
- Start talking as clearly as possible in the source language. If nothing appears, press the “Speak now” button in the middle. The app will transform your speech into text.
- Once the translation appears, edit out any mistakes that may have slipped in.
On mobile, you also have the option to transcribe. Just note that Translate doesn’t yet have the option to transcribe in ANY language.
- In the mobile Translate app, tap on the Transcribe icon underneath the text box.
- Select the speaker’s language in the top left.
- In the top right, select the translation language.
- If you already have an audio recording ready, start playing it. Your phone should automatically start to translate the conversation. The results will show up immediately.
How to Translate Images with Google Translate
You can also use images in Google Translate, with any text they might contain translated within seconds. This is another option only available on mobile. Once again, it’s quite a valuable tool when you’re traveling abroad and perhaps looking to decipher text from a menu.
- Open the mobile Google Translate app and tap on the camera icon underneath the text box.
- Take a picture or Import one from your gallery.
- If you’ve selected the first option, the next step is to aim the device at the text. The translation will appear superimposed on the original text.
- The results are not always 100 percent accurate, in the sense that some text might escape translation. In this case, we recommend that you try to aim your camera at the writing from a different angle.
How to Translate Documents in Google Translate
Google Translate can also translate documents for you. You can do that on your PC but not on mobile.
- Go to the Google Translate page on your desktop.
- Click on the “Documents” button at the top next to “Text.”
- The program can translate .doc, .docx, .odf, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .ps, .rtf, .txt, .xls, and .xlsx. Press the “Browse your computer” button to upload your file.
- Find the file and upload it.
- Set the source language and target language, then click the “Translate” button.
- The translation will show up in the same tab. It’s a pretty useful feature when you’re doing research, such as when your only sources are in a foreign language you don’t know well.
Google Translate Advanced Options
Interpreter Mode allows you to translate conversations in real time. It’s available on mobile devices (both Android and iOS) and can produce relatively accurate results with correct pronunciation.
The idea behind Interpreter Mode is to allow users to have conversations with people who speak different languages in real time. If you’d like to activate the feature, we have an in-depth tutorial to show you how.
Have a Conversation
To use Interpreter Mode, you have to go through Google Assistant, but if you don’t feel like doing that, know that you the Translate app enables you to start a conversation and have your lines translated in real time.
- In Google Translate, set the source and target language.
- Tap the Conversation button.
- A new tab will open that divides the screen in two.
- Tap the first language mic (English in this case) and start talking. The translation in the target language will appear below.
- When it’s time for the other participant to talk, tap the second language mic to get the translation in the first language.
There is also an Auto mode which can identify the languages that are spoken automatically.
Use Google Translate in Any App on Your Device
If you’re using the Android app, there’s no need to switch to the Translate app every time you’re looking to translate a few words. The app includes an option that allows you to easily translate from any other app on your phone. Here’s how to activate it.
- In the Translate app, tap on the hamburger menu in the top-left corner.
- Select Settings.
- Tap on the “Tap to Translate” option at the top.
- The option will run in the background by default, but you can opt to have a floating icon on the screen.
- To start the translation process, open an app, such as WhatsApp.
- Find text you wish to translate and copy it.
- You’ll notice that a Google Translate icon is hovering at the top of the display. Tap on it to see the translation. It’s that easy.
- You can write a reply in your own language and copy/paste the translation back into the conversation.
The feature works offline, too, so you’re not bound to an Internet connection to be able to use it.
Use Translate in Offline Mode
Speaking of offline mode, did you know you can use Translate completely offline on your mobile device? You’ll have to do a few things beforehand.
- Open the Google Translate app on your device.
- Tap on the hamburger menu in the top-left corner of the display.
- Select the “Offline translation” option.
- Select which languages you wish to translate to even when offline by tapping the download button next to them.
That’s it. Now you can translate even when you don’t have a working Internet connection.
Use It as a Dictionary
Google Translate can double as a dictionary on your phone or desktop. Here’s how to quickly access definitions directly on your device.
- In the Translate app or browser, tap on the source language and select the “Detect language” option.
- Choose English as the target language for the definitions.
- Type in a word and see its definition underneath.
Additional Google Translate Options
Switch to Fullscreen
You may wish to have your translations in full screen mode, which will make them significantly larger and easier to read. Note that you can only do that in the mobile Translate app.
- After translating some text in the Translate app, find the box where the translated text shows up and tap on the three dots on the right.
- Tap on the Fullscreen option.
- The translated text will now cover the entire screen.
Block Offensive Words
If you’re in the habit of handing your phone to your kids and want to make sure they’re not trying to translate any offensive words, you may want to enable this setting.
- Open the Translate app on your phone.
- Tap on the hamburger menu in the upper-left corner.
- Select Settings.
- Select the “Speech input” tab at the bottom.
- Toggle on the “Block offensive words” option if it’s not on by default.
Now your Translate app will be blocking offensive words as they appear in translations.
Manage Your Translation History
The Google Translate app easily allows you to delete your translation history. All you have to do is go to Settings, then press the “Clear History” button that appears at the bottom.
On desktop, the process differs a little bit. Find the History button at the bottom of the display, then tap on it. Your previous translations will show up on the right side of the display.
Click on “Clear All History” to remove all your searches. Alternatively, it’s possible to remove individual queries by clicking on the three dots next to the item and selecting the “Remove from history” option.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are there any worthy alternatives to Google Translate?
Google Translate is among the top choices when it comes to translating. However, Apple introduced its own competitive service called Apple Translate, which is definitely worth looking into. Find out more in our comparison post between Google Translate and Apple Translate.
2. How can I easily translate web pages without having to copy/paste everything into Google Translate?
It’s possible to do so quite easily if you’re willing to use Chrome. You can easily translate web pages in Chrome for desktop as well as mobile. Our guide will teach you how.
3. What if the resulting translation is not accurate?
You can help make it better. On the desktop, press on the “Pencil” button to suggest an edit. Google may use your contribution to improve translation quality. This option is not yet available on mobile.
Now that you’ve learned how to use Google Translate to its fullest, perhaps you’d like to learn more about Google’s other services. For instance, you may be interested in checking out our review of Google One: Google’s subscription-based cloud storage service. Alternatively, you can learn all about using Google Assistant when your phone is locked.