Change the WordPress Admin Panel Language

If you’ve had a site built by someone who doesn’t speak your native language, how do you manage your site? Or maybe you want to add a new author to the site to contribute to the translations or create a profile for another contributor who will find it easier to navigate the site in their native language?

One of my newest clients came to for help after having a website built that they were unable to manage. Yes, what is the point of a CMS you can’t use because it’s installed in a language you don’t understand?

The first opportunity you have to set the language is when WordPress is installed. It’s actually one of the first windows you see when working through the setup process.

So what do you do if your web developer sends you a login to your site and you can’t understand any of it because it’s in double-dutch (or just Dutch, in this particular case)?

Firstly, assuming you logged in with your own login credentials, you need to navigate to the Users panel. Thankfully you don’t have to speak the language to find this, as WordPress helpfully use a standard set of icons for the dashboard menu items. You’re looking for the menu option that uses the person icon. Here’s how it looks in English, French, and Dutch.

Users Panel – in English
Users Panel – in French
Users Panel – in Dutch

Once you’ve located this, you can go directly to your profile by selecting the Your Profile option. If you’re not sure what that translates to in the language used for your particular WordPress installation, you can either hop over to to translate it or hazard a guess by clicking the third option on the list, so Votre profil in the French site and Je profiel on the Dutch site.

With your profile window open, scroll down through the Personal Options sections until you get to Language. Here you can choose from either the default or the list of installed languages. On this website I have four languages installed by default: English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Français, and Nederlands.

Languages Installed on my WordPress Site

On another site I manage the three default languages are English (United Kingdom), Nederlands, and Français.

If you found the language you need, select it and click Save.

If you need can’t find the language you need, you have an extra step – sorry.

Now you need to navigate to Settings, helpfully marked by the up/down slider symbol.

Settings Menu Icon – in English
Settings Menu Icon – in Dutch
Settings Menu Icon – in French

The keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the layouts are a little different, that’s because any plugins you are using may affect the order of the items listed in the menu. It doesn’t matter, as long as you are able to find the symbol for the Settings (or Réglages or Instellingen), you’re nearly there.

You want to change the General Settings, which I’m 99.9% confident to say will always be first on the list. Select it and scroll down to Language.

This setting changes the default language for the whole site. Here, if you tried to change the user language, as above, and only saw a short list, is where you’ll see all the possible WordPress installation languages as well as the ones installed in this particular WordPress by default.

To install an additional language:

  1. Scroll down to the Language field, helpfully marked with another icon, as shown in the image below.
  2. Click on the drop-down and select the new language from the list.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save to save the settings.

The new language has now installed.

Because this has changed the setting for the entire site, you may want to change it back to the default. To do that, just click the Language drop-down again, choose the original language default and click Save. Now it’s all back to the way it was.

With the new language installed you can go back to your user profile and select it from the Language drop-down, as before. The instructions for that are at the top of this page!

Eh voila, c’est fini!

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And if you need help with any aspect of your business tech, your website or you need SEO and content advice, get in touch!

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