Firefox users who rely on third-party extensions to add translation functionality to the browser may soon have a native option at their disposal that is privacy-focused as it runs locally in the browser.
Mozilla revealed in early 2019 that it was working on a translation feature that would add native translate functionality to the Firefox web browser; one feature that Firefox lacked that Google Chrome and many other Chromium-based browsers supported.
Project Bergamot is a research project that is funded by the European Union. Several European universities and Mozilla work hand in hand to create a local translation service that does not require cloud connectivity after it has been installed.
In January 2021, we took a look at the progress made based on a Twitter post of a team member. Demonstration videos are useful, but most Firefox users may prefer a hands-on approach, and that is possible right now.
There are some caveats though at this point in development. The extension is in constant development and offers limited translate functionality only at this point in time. Currently, it is possible to translate Spanish and Estonian to English and vice versa, and English to German.
All languages are included in the extension package at the time, and that means that the extension has a size of more than 120 Megabyte.
Last but not least, the Bergamot extension works only in Firefox Nightly and requires that several preferences are set correctly.
Let's take a look at how the extension works before we provide you with setup instructions.
Firefox displays a translate toolbar below its address bar when you open a page that is in a supported language that is not installed in Firefox. If you have installed English and Spanish in Firefox, you won't get options to translate either language into the other.
The toolbar displays options to translate the page into one of the supported languages.
The initial translation of a language in a session takes a long time currently, between ten and thirty seconds, while consecutive translations may happen faster. Mozilla needs to reduce the load time significantly, and it is very likely that this is already a task on the development agenda.
An option to "never translate" a particular language is not included yet, but it is likely that it will be integrated in the final version.
The translation quality is quite good already for the supported languages, especially when you consider that everything happens locally in the browser.
The Bergamot extension requires an up to date version of Firefox Nightly. Several preferences need to be changed in that Nightly version:
Once done, use this link to install the Bergamot extension in the web browser.
Project Bergamot is an interesting project that could introduce a much-needed translation feature in Firefox, one that is protecting user privacy because translations don't require a connection to remote servers.
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