How to Change the Default Language in WordPress

One of the most powerful features of WordPress is it’s ability to allow users to blog or manage content in their language of choice.

If you have been using WordPress for awhile and you would like to change the language for your admin dashboard, here a few easy steps:

Download the Language files

You can get the language files you need from the WordPress in Your Language web page. The file will have a name such as in the following example:

The first two small characters (‘fr’ for French) refer to the the ISO-639 language code. This is followed by the ISO-3166 country code (_FR for France in the example). So, the French .mo file would be called

Copy Language files to your WordPress Installation

Once you have downloaded the correct /mo file to your computer, copy it to your server in the directory ‘wp-content/languages’. You will probably need to create the ‘languages’ directory if you installed WordPress in English.

Modify the wp-config.php file

In the root directory of your WordPress installation is a file named ‘wp-config.php’. This file includes all of the setting to allow you to connect to the database and manage a few other items. Download the file and open it up in your Text Editor application.

Edit the language line

Inside the ‘wp-config.php’ file, you will see the following lines:

define ('WPLANG', '');

You will need to change this to use the file you just copied to your server. If using the example for French above, you would edit the like to look like the following:

define ('WPLANG', 'fr_FR');

Save the ‘wp-config.php’ file and copy it back to your web server.

Goto User Profile and Change Language

Visit your Admin Dashboard with your web browser. Your blog should now be displayed in the language you desired.

  • Muhammad Khalid

    Thanks for sharing this article but i have completed this procedure to change the language of my blog to french but not succeeded yet.
    steps I have done are
    1:download and also fr_FR.po
    2:keep these files to new directory “languages” in wp-content.
    3:In wp-config.php replace define (‘WPLANG’, ”) to define (‘WPLANG’, ‘fr_FR’);
    4: upload changes and new files.

    Thanks in advance if any body help me.

    Muhammad Khalid

    • Eric

      Hi Muhammad,

      When you refresh the Admin Dashboard, does anything appear in French at all?

      Can you confirm that you have copied the mo and po files to the languages directory that you created as well?


  • Anastacia Victor

    Wow! This is a unique post. I didn’t know that we can use word-press in many languages.
    Thanks for the Discovery

  • Ankit

    This post was very useful..Thnx.:)

    Using this post changes Dashboard language, but i also need to change the language for website content under pages/posts, Also the website url should get change to another language..

    Any Help …

    Thanks in advance ..:)

    • Eric

      Hi Ankit,

      Multi-language with WordPress is always a double edged sword … unfortunately.

      In addition to setting your wp-config.php file, you should also understand if your theme supports multiple languages. A theme that supports multiple languages shows text with __(‘My text here’, $theme_name) or _e(‘My text here’, $theme_name);

      When a theme does not support multiple languages, it usually means that the front end (the part that visitors see) does not display multiple languages, or a language other than the theme developers language, very well.

      One of the best plug-ins to assist people that want to run a blog in multiple languages is WPML (

      It is a premium plug-in (costs money), but it really takes the trouble out of running a blog in multiple languages.

      I hope this helped. Please let me know if you need any further assistance.

      • Carl Heaton

        Fantastic follow up Eric, thanks.

  • Jill Walker Rettberg

    Do you have to go through all these steps simply to change the language for the spell-checker to UK English? I’m surprised this isn’t built in, so much other goodness is already there!

    • Carl Heaton

      I know! I am British myself Jill and it is annoying when Colour comes up as mispelt.

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