Install additional language packs for WordPress

WordPress comes in many language packs. As of version 4.0, we will be able to choose a translation during installation. But how can we get the translation files later in order to implement a multi-language installation?

WordPress comes in English, unless the installation package was downloaded from a localized page like For addional languages, we have to do some manual work. As of WordPress 4.0, language packs are offered and downloaded during the installation. This tutorial focuses on the manual way for version 3.9.

We can get the current language files from There we can export the desired files in multiple formats. We need the .mo files, the machine objects.


The projects are divided into several sub-projects. is our starting point. Here are the current language files. From there we jump into the respective language project. The xx_XX stands for the language identification according to ISO 639-1 or ISO 639-2. For each language, we need four files:


The we put these files into the folder /wp-content/languages/. In the wp-config.php we can give the directory a different location by defining the constant WP_LANG_DIR. With the constant WPLANG we can set the default language, which must exactly match the language code. In a multi-site installation, we can now assign that language to each site in the General Settings. Plugins like our Multilingual Press also offer each individual user to use one preferred language in the administration for all sites.

Multilingual Press User Language

And that’s all. Did it work for you? Which languages do you use and what do you do with them?

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