Mozilla working on Google Translate integration in Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 9, 2018
Updated • Sep 11, 2018

Did you know that the Firefox web browser has a translate feature similarly to that of Google Chrome? Most Firefox users are probably unaware as it is not enabled by default and not highlighted in the options or user interface.

Mozilla revealed in February 2014 that it was working on integrating machine translate functionality in the Firefox web browser and started to include the functionality in Nightly versions of the browser in May 2014.

Mozilla's first version of translation support in Firefox used Bing Translate to translate website content. It worked similar to Chrome's implementation of Google Translate.

A notification bar is displayed when a user visits a site that is in a language that is not installed in Firefox. The bar highlights the detected language of the page and offers translation options. A click on translate translates the page in the default browser language, selection of "not now" hides the prompt.

Options to "never translate" the detected language or the site are provided as well.

Mozilla added support for Yandex Translate in Firefox 41 which it released in mid-2015. It went all dark soon thereafter; the feature was not pushed to the stable channel and only some fixes were released in the three years that followed.

The inactivity ended last week when Mozilla started to add support for Google Translate to the translation engine built into the Firefox web browser.

While the feature is not fully functional yet, it is an indicator that Mozilla has not forgotten the translate feature completely. Users who enable the translate functionality in Firefox on about:config will notice that Google is the selected translation engine.

Load about:config?filter=browser.translation in the Firefox address bar to display the preferences.

  • browser.translation.detectLanguage -- set this to True to have Firefox detect a page's language.
  • browser.translation.engine -- determines which translation service Firefox uses. Supported are Google, Bing and Yandex.
  • -- defines whether Firefox will display the translation user interface when foreign language sites are opened. Set to True to show the UI, False to hide it.

Google Translate cannot be used currently in Firefox; the browser throws an error message when you hit the translate button in the UI. Bing and Yandex don't seem to work either at this point in time even though Firefox seems to try and translate the page. The "there has been an error translating this page" error is thrown eventually as well.

Google Translate requires API access keys and that is usually only available if companies or users pay for the key. It is unclear if Mozilla plans to make a deal with Google or if users will be required to use their own API keys for the functionality. The latter would surely be very limiting.


Add-on developers created numerous extensions that integrated translate functionality in Firefox in one way or another. Google Translate Bar was one of the first to replicate the translation bar of Google Chrome; it was launched in 2010 alongside other extensions such as Facebook Translate or Translate This.

The extensions don't work anymore, however, as Mozilla switched to a different extensions system in Firefox 57. If you search for translate extensions on Mozilla AMO you get a large number that is compatible with Firefox 57 and newer:

Now You: Do you require translate functionality in your browser?

Mozilla working on Google Translate integration in Firefox
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Mozilla working on Google Translate integration in Firefox
Mozilla started work on integrating Google Translate functionality natively in the Firefox web browser.
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  1. mohsen said on May 20, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Translate any webpage on the fly

  2. owl said on September 21, 2018 at 1:55 am

    Most of the posts (Comments),
    It shows anaphylactic symptoms in keyword “Google”, which is far from “Now You: Do you require translate functionality in your browser?”. Moreover, it is denouncing “Mozilla” with the returning sword.
    That’s it! Stop partying like crazy!

    Internet is GLOBAL: eliminate national borders, barriers are eliminated. However, languages are still the biggest barriers to that communication.
    Translator function is an indispensable item in Browser which becomes window of Internet. Including slang, appropriate translation capability is asked.
    Yahoo, Microsoft (bing), Baidu, Excite, etc are focusing on services for that, but they are not enemies of Google (handling abilities of corresponding languages, vocabulary quantities, grammar etc).
    The translation function necessary for Browser is “practical ability” is the top priority.
    Of course, “Google” is the best. It is obvious to everyone.

    If you do not want it, you can just set it to “false” in config.
    People who make a fuss such a thing to especially is only “slightly” in the world.

  3. krixus said on September 20, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    That is typically Mozilla. Adopting more and more Chrome services/code inside their browser. Pretty hard if all caring and capable developers have left the building – and what is left are developers who see Google Chrome and Google as role-model and visionary product of where to draw ideas and inspiration from.

    The Mozilla i know always had ideas and inspiration of it’s own – but that ceased to exist once Mozilla restructured Firefox – stripped away features, options, choice or simply called customization as overall-used term to start a love affair with possible switching-interested Google Chrome users.

    What for a waste of time. And most of us Chrome users will never switch. Because there is a Chrome already and it’s doing it’s job good enough. But that is the problem Mozilla is unable to grasp. They still try to create the “better Chrome” – and driving their own users away with the decisions which are made/features removed because of the road taken.

  4. John Doe said on September 13, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Stay way from Google – NSA’s favorite partner.

  5. Doc said on September 10, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    “…translate feature similarly to that…” **Similar**, Martin, not “similarly.” :)

  6. Leslie said on September 10, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    I have been using this for years in Firefox:
    it works perfectly.

  7. Pedro said on September 10, 2018 at 10:32 am

    This is the only feature from Google Chrome that I sorely miss.
    Hopefully Firefox will include translation by default from some search provider. As for the privacy paranoid people. There are options in about:config and for 99% functionality trumps privacy. So swallow that and change the defaults if it bothers you so much.

  8. John G. said on September 9, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Google is becoming GodGle.

  9. anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    I wish Mozilla would use DeepL instead:

    1. Anonymous said on September 10, 2018 at 10:28 am

      deepl simply doesn’t support enough languages for it to be integrated

    2. noemata said on September 10, 2018 at 9:20 am

      deepl is still too limited as far as supported languages are concerned. asian languages are missing completely & whole websites cannot be translated automatically (only word and powerpoint documents). and a comparison between the free version and deepl pro reveals a questionable development. it’s all very sad, because deepl is far the better translator. one will have to wait, how deepl will develop further. and if mozilla would close a special deal with deepl, i already hear the old song “decentralisation” & “privacy” again.

  10. nealis said on September 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    I think it is great, a pretty common sense feature that should have been there at the beginning, I watching a old youtube video on Netscape, this was one of the features they were working on and was proud of highlighting it in a interview. Now I have to use Chrome sometimes for a quick translate. All the Firefox translation addons don’t work nearly as well.

  11. happysurf said on September 9, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    For me is a great news, at moment I use the great extension Simple Translate.

    1. dave said on September 10, 2018 at 11:12 am

      I use that too, it is a great addon as it allows you to select text such as an instagram post and a popup button will appear and if you click on it a text box with the translated text appears, it is awesome.

  12. Shiva said on September 9, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Are some Firefox developers want to be employed by Microsoft? I can guess what’s in the CV cover letter: “In the last years I used my skills to add useless addiction on the software I have worked on. That’s why I am ready to take the big step with oyur Company and all my expectations are focused to improve Windows 10 Start Menu and Explorer with wonderfull changes to make life hard for everyone. I enclose a letter of recommendation from Google.”

    All joking aside, this is really necessary? I use ‘Google Translator For Firefox’ for selected text or full pages and it is enough for me. Futhermore, as @Paul(us) wrote, there are others service more usefull related to english writing like also Context Reverso. Leave these things to add-ons and focus on missing API, more customization and restore f….. add-on bar.

  13. Clairvaux said on September 9, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Fast Translation says it’s not compatible with Quantum.

  14. Clairvaux said on September 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Yes. Translation is a major feature in a browser. I tried your about:config tweaks, and indeed they don’t work : the translation bar does appear, but it throws an error message when you try to use it.

    I have three translation extensions installed. None of them is good, but I can get the work done. All add a command to the right-click menu, as they should.

    ImTranslator : I’ve never brought myself to use it regularly. Don’t remember why. Each time I tried, something went wrong.

    Google Translator for Firefox : nice, simple, single-command in right-click menu. Doesn’t always work, however.

    S3 Translator : confusing interface, too many commands, overlapping features. Mostly works. My extension of choice. The first command on the cascading, secondary menu is usually the best.

    My advice to developers : make it simple and streamlined. Eliminate nice-to-have, but confusing commands. Translation is like screen-shots : such utilities should be blazingly fast to use, with nothing to think about and no way to fail.

    1. Thorky said on September 9, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      I’m using To Google Translate and it works really fine.

  15. Thorky said on September 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    When I looked for browser.translation.engine, it was bing (all in small letters) there I found, not google.

    1. TelV said on September 9, 2018 at 4:25 pm


      You can change it to google. Just double click it, delete bing and replace it with google.


      All three settings are present are present in Waterfox. I enabled each of them and changed bing to google, but when I attempted to to translate from Dutch to English, it displayed an error which reads, “There was an error attempting to translate this page”.

      1. Thorky said on September 9, 2018 at 7:15 pm

        Thx TeIV, I know, it’s a string-value. Just wanted to show, that Google isn’t the standard chosen by Mozilla, because many critisised here, that Mozilla prefers Google over all the others.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 9, 2018 at 3:17 pm

      Which version did you check? I only checked Nightly.

      1. Thorky said on September 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm

        I checked Firefox 62.0, Screenshot:

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm

        Bugzilla lists Firefox 63 as the target.

  16. Deo-et-Patriae said on September 9, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    OMG… Just yersterday I thinking about this. I want a semaless integreation with inline translation of course, otherwise useless for me. Make as simple as possible. One only option: in what language we want the translation.

  17. mike said on September 9, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Finally! This is what is missing comparing chrome to firefox

  18. user17843 said on September 9, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    One more example of half-baked solutions coming from Mozilla.

    The intention is there, but the management seems to be a disaster.

    Ideally it would be a native translation feature integrating with different providers and protecting user privacy via Mozilla proxy.

    But for that you would need a team working on this.

    I looked up the Senior Engineer who published the Bug and he seems to work mostly on some kind of chat feature for Thunderbird (?).

    Maybe Mozilla would be better off if they get their engineers focusing on Firefox.

    And why adding Google Translate functionality if the translate function itself is not even available via UI? Maybe start with that before adding complexity.

    1. Anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      “protecting user privacy via Mozilla proxy”

      I wouldn’t be comfortable either with sending my URLs to Mozilla, but it’s true that it may be slightly better than straight to Google.

      1. user17843 said on September 9, 2018 at 3:37 pm

        Since the entire web is interconnected, a browser-integrated proxy for all kinds of meta-services (Safe Browsing, etc.) would be very good in protecting users, but it would have to be independently audited and the entity would need to enjoy a high level of trust, which Mozilla doesn’t these days.

        It’s all about plausible deniability. When Mozilla says “we don’t log” and secretly logs the data because the NSA demands it, you are still protected legally as the data legally does’t exist.

        This level of protection is all anyone can ask for nowadays, everything else is simply wishful thinking.

      2. John Fenderson said on September 10, 2018 at 5:18 pm

        @user17843: “This level of protection is all anyone can ask for nowadays”

        “This level” of protection is none at all. Fortunately, we can get a lot more — it just takes ongoing effort and vigilance from all users. There are no companies that will do this for you, and most companies actively work to reduce your protection.

      3. Anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 5:14 pm

        “This level of protection is all anyone can ask for nowadays, everything else is simply wishful thinking.”

        I don’t fully agree. Decentralization and other defenses could help make police mass surveillance more costly and less total, while I agree that nothing can fully stop it. It’s not a binary situation but a moving frontline.

        “you are still protected legally as the data legally does’t exist”

        I’m also not 100% convinced that a good privacy policy totally prevents an entity from selling data illegally by violating said privacy policy. But I agree that it’s a plus as it makes data harder to sell.

  19. Weilan said on September 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    But what will they do when they keep jumping ships and changing allegiance? One day they have Google as their default search, then it’s Yahoo!, after that it’s something else…

    Only Google and Bing that I know of offer on-demand translation, so if Firefox keep doing what they do, it will only look ridiculous.

  20. Paul(us) said on September 9, 2018 at 11:48 am

    I myself would prefer a program who works for me personly much better namely being Grammarly being integrated in Mozilla Firefox.
    Maybe when this is being accomplished there is a possibility for Grammarly to add more languages, to there program?

    1. Anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Please no. Grammarly is spyware that sends everything you type to their servers! How about integrating an offline grammar checker?

  21. גוגל said on September 9, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Google services deep in Firefox

    1. Anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 11:51 pm

      Deep. That is the State of Google services today. :)

  22. Anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 11:18 am

    After search engine and safebrowsing, Firefox is once again a front-end for Google services. The automatic language detection will probably send every visited URL to Google. Like with safebrowsing, this will probably use some Google identifying cookies that are invisible to the user and cannot be cleared.

    1. owl said on September 11, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Indeed, the default for Vivaldi’s search engine is “bing”.
      Previously, it was DuckDuckGo …
      Google search is mainstream, boasting an overwhelming share. Meanwhile, Bing (Microsoft) will provide a big rebate to browser developers to counter Google.
      Since Developer needs funds as well as human resources, it will be a natural choice mechanically.
      In fact, the default search engine is not “forced”, it can be changed arbitrarily.
      (Guess) 70 to 85% of end users say “Convenience is top priority over personal information leakage”
      “Specification” according to such a situation is a natural flow.
      Value is “diverse”. The user who is concerned about Google and bing is “minority”.
      I dislike commercialism Google and Microsoft, and I support DuckDuckGo.
      An ancient Greek philosopher defined statistically that “supportive and opponents are about 15% each and 70% moderate”. That theory is universal.

      1. Anonymous said on September 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm

        @owl what you call moderate is uninformed people, that will therefore be abused. The 15% supportive of surveillance capitalism are the brainwashed fascist milicia that will break any protest to support the system. The 15% opponents will be called by the mass media any bad name clearly identifiable by the 70% to justify the current system.

    2. Richard Allen said on September 9, 2018 at 6:32 pm

      “Firefox is once again a front-end for Google services.” Why all the drama?

      Search engines are a choice that a user will have to make for themselves, if they can even be bothered. Google search being the default search engine in FF is what the average user wants to use anyway when you consider Google has the biggest search engine market share with worldwide numbers around 70-80%. I rarely use google search but obviously the majority are happy to use it.

      In Waterfox they chose to go with Bing as their default search engine. How is that any better? With the default config in WF after doing one search I saw 11 cookies from “bing”, “” and “” that stick around even after reboots when using the default browser config. I thought WF was supposed to be the schnitzel when it came to browser privacy? And then to top it off WF offers both Startpage and DuckDuckGo in the settings menu but chose to go with Bing instead.

      Vivaldi also uses Bing as the default and just like WF it has Startpage and DuckDuckGo as search engine options but chose to go with Bing instead. Every browser makes privacy compromises and I don’t know why but they all except Every cookie they see by default. There’s not one browser that should be used with the default settings.

      Safe browsing is enabled by default in Waterfox, Firefox, Chrome and Vivaldi, I don’t know about Opera. Using safe browsing comes with privacy implications but the average user is probably better off leaving it enabled. Whenever I setup a browser for someone I always leave it enabled even though I’ve never used it myself. Most people need all the help they can get.

      1. ShintoPlasm said on September 13, 2018 at 6:53 am

        “I thought WF was supposed to be the schnitzel when it came to browser privacy?”

        That really made me laugh first thing in the morning… :)

    3. Anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      Default search engine deals bring a ton of money and you can easily change your default search engine. Was Yahoo any better than Google? Firefox asks you whether you want auto-complete.

      Contrary to popular belief, Google Safe Browsing doesn’t simply send a list of all visited sites to Google, but sends queries that you visited an unknown site out of a subset of sites. Firefox even sends fake queries to increase privacy. See
      Safe Browsing is a must for technically incompetent users who would otherwise fall for scams and then browser reviews would say Firefox is the least secure browser because it lacks it. Defaults matter for those users, if you know how and why to disable Safe Browsing, you probably don’t need it.

      Automatic language detection is easy to perform client-side just by including a list of common words used in every supported language. This would be a genuinely useful feature better than in Chrome, because it would support multiple translation providers.

      1. Anonymous said on September 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm

        “you can easily change your default search engine”

        Bad defaults mean techies will complain less because they can change them, while the mass of non techies will be unaware and screwed. I never buy the “you can change the defaults” arguments. Especially when so many are wrong in Firefox.
        Now Yahoo, Bing or Google surely doesn’t make a big difference, ok. But search engines like Startpage, Duckduckgo or others making privacy efforts could make that difference.

        “Google Safe Browsing doesn’t simply send a list of all visited sites to Google, but sends queries that you visited an unknown site out of a subset of sites. ”

        I’m aware of how safebrowsing works. Actually the best privacy protection in Firefox implementation in my opinion is not that it will send an unknown site out of a subset, because I’m not quite sure those sets sharing the first 32 bits of hashes are that large (are they ?). It’s that it will send the hash prefix to Google only if it’s already matched in the local database, so it’s far from all visited sites.

        But still I don’t really like that part because it could perfectly have been made purely locally, while Google imposed instead its culture of remote control. Also, Google could sneak any site in the local database updated every 30 minutes and be silently warned of who visited them (well more or less, because of the noise entries you mentioned). I also don’t like how they imposed their hidden cookies in Firefox :
        Add to that that I don’t trust Google not to be heavy handed in censoring competing interests like file sharing sites under the excuse that they might be “dangerous”.

        But what you said is only about the URL part of safebrowsing. With the “download protection” part (same page you linked), every unusual binary’s metadata will be sent to Google, not just those matching a local blacklist like in the URL part. They didn’t even attempt to do this part privately at all.

        I agree with you that protecting against threats can be useful, but it should be done locally, period, especially when Google is involved at the other end.

      2. John Fenderson said on September 10, 2018 at 6:15 pm

        @Anonymous: “Bad defaults mean techies will complain less because they can change them”

        Up to a point. It can (and does) happen that the number of defaults that have to be changed, combined with increasing the difficulty of changing them, makes the burden of initial configuration and maintenance of that configuration so great as to be not worth using the product anymore even for techies.

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