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September 19, 2023

WPML not only lets you translate every part of your site, it also lets you choose who will translate it and how to do it. Here’s an overview of options available with WPML.

This guide is for clients with the Multilingual CMS and Multilingual Agency account types. If you have a Multilingual Blog account, please see our documentation on Getting Started With a Multilingual Blog Account Type.

On This Page:

Installing & Configuring WPML

Start by making sure your site meets WPML’s minimum requirements. Then, install the main WPML components:

  • WPML Multilingual CMS (the core plugin)
  • String Translation

They are available from your account’s Downloads page. Please note that the WPML Multilingual Blog account type does not provide access to other components besides the WPML core plugin.

Read more about how to download and activate your WPML plugins on your site.

When you first activate WPML a setup wizard will help you specify the essential settings you need to prepare your site for multilingual content.

Follow the wizard to:

After setting up your site, you can also customize your site’s language switcher, which is added to the footer by default.

Translation Mode Options

You have two options for translating your site: Translate Everything Automatically or Translate What You Choose. The WPML setup wizard will try to choose the best option for you depending on how much content is on your site.

Choosing a translation mode when setting up WPML the first time

Both of these options are fully compatible with the WordPress Gutenberg block editor. You can easily translate your content designed using Gutenberg.

Translate Everything Automatically

This option translates all your content for you as soon as you publish it. When you edit your content, WPML automatically updates the translations so they’re never out of date.

If needed, you can pause the automatic translation feature.

WPML’s automatic translation completes your translations in minutes, and you can choose to review the translations before or after publishing them on your site. Don’t speak the language you’re translating your site into? No problem. You can hire a translation reviewer to make sure your translated content sounds natural and accurate.

Viewing the status of your automatic translations

This feature works for the following types of content:

  • Posts
  • Pages
  • Taxonomy terms that are assigned to posts or pages
  • WooCommerce products

It also works with custom post typescustom taxonomies, and other custom content that you set to Translatable in WPML’s settings. You may still need to translate some content such as strings and some plugin content (such as content from form plugins). This is because short texts often don’t have enough context to provide a useful translation automatically.

Please note that this mode translates content from your site’s default language to the secondary languages. If you create a post or a page in a secondary language, it will not be automatically translated to other languages.

Read more about WPML’s automatic translation options.

Translate What You Choose

If you don’t want to translate your whole site or would prefer to hire translators to work on your site, this option gives you more control over what you translate and who will translate it.

If you have a WPML Multilingual CMS or Agency account, you can set up individual translators, connect directly with a professional translation service, or translate your content yourself.

Then, go to WPML → Translation Management to choose which content you would like to translate and how to translate it.

Sending pages for translation using the Translation Management Dashboard

Translating Your Site Yourself

If you have a WPML Blog account, or you’re the only one translating your site’s content, you can translate your posts and pages by clicking the plus icon.

List of Posts with translation controls
WPML Language sidebar on the post edit screen

Translation Icons

This is what the different icons mean:

IconCurrent statusAction
The content is not yet translatedAdd a new translation
The content is already translated, and the translation is up-to-dateEdit the existing translation
The content is translated, but the translation needs updatingEdit the existing translation
The content is translated, but the translation needs updating, and a new translation is already in progressFurther action is not possible because a translation is already in progress
The content is translated and awaiting reviewReview the translation

Using Multilingual-Ready Themes and Plugins

The WPML team works closely with authors of the most popular themes and plugins to ensure you don’t encounter any compatibility problems when translating your site. See our directories of recommended themes and plugins for specific documentation and workarounds for any current known issues:

Translating Other Site Content

Besides posts and pages, there are other elements that you will want to translate. This includes front-end texts coming from your theme and plugins, menus, widgets, and more.

Again, you can send these types of content for translation to others, or translate it directly by yourself.

Go to WPML → Taxonomy Translation to translate tags, categories and custom taxonomy.

Go to WPML → Settings → Custom Fields Translation to choose which fields will appear in WPML’s Advanced Translation Editor.

WPML Media Translation allows you to use different images and other media for your translated content when you’re using WPML Translation Management.

Use WPML to show different menus for each language. Set up different menus manually or automatically synchronize the menu content.

Use the String Translation module to translate standard WordPress widget texts as well as texts from custom widgets registered by your theme or plugins.

Edit the permalink directly to translate page names appearing in URLs, and use Translation Management settings to translate slugs of custom post types.

WPML lets you translate the texts that come from the theme and plugins that are running on your site. This way, if themes and plugins are missing some translations, you can add them using the String Translation module.

You can choose any string in the wp_options table and make it translatable via WPML. Then, translate these strings using the String Translation module.

WPML offers support for the popular e-commerce plugins:

See our documentation for translating forms according to which form plugin you use. Download any necessary glue plugins from your Downloads page.

When you build custom elements for a multilingual site, you will need to translate them. Read the guide on developing custom multilingual sites to see what WPML offers.

Questions? Feedback? Talk with Us!

Book a Zoom call with Agnes, our Client Advocate, and share your WPML feedback related to documentation, videos, and plugin usage. Your feedback helps us to improve and we value it greatly.