TranslateLocally: local translations as an Extension and Desktop app

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 6, 2022
Firefox
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15

TranslateLocally is an open source browser extension and desktop application that promises local translations. It's source is the same that the official Firefox Translations extension uses: Project Bergamot.

translatelocally desktop app

Project Bergamot is a EU-funded project to create a privacy-friendly and open translation service. Browsers like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge had an edge over other browsers for a long time, as they could leverage the translation services of their parent companies.

Both Google Translate and Microsoft Translate are cloud-based services, that require an Internet connection. Information is submitted to Google or Microsoft whenever content is translated.

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Firefox Translate changes that by moving translations to the local system. The extension works really well already, but lacks support for the majority of languages.

TranslateLocally

TranslateLocally's origin dates back to Project Bergamot, just like Firefox Translations. Project Bergamot funding ended in June 2022, but a new project, High Performance Language Technologies, received funding already.

TranslateLocally is available as an extension for the Firefox web browser and as a desktop app. Since it is not as deeply linked to Firefox as Firefox Translations, it may in theory also be made available for other browsers. An experimental Chromium extension is already in development.

The desktop app is a standalone application that is available for Windows, Mac and Linux devices. It appears to be powered by Electron. Once started, it requires that you download at least one language pair to enable offline translation support.

The list of language pair that is supported is identical to that of Firefox Translations:

Bulgarian ? English
Czech ? English
Estonian ? Engish
French ? Engish
German ? English
Polish ? English
Spanish ? English
Ukranian ? English
Icelandic ? English
Norwegian Bokmål ? English
Norwegian Nynorsk ? English

You may type or paste text into the upper text field to have it translated automatically by the program. All translations happen locally.

translatelocally firefox

The TranslateLocally extension for Firefox may be used independently or in conjunction with the desktop app. It adds an icon to the Firefox toolbar that displays the translation options when it is activated. You may also right-click on a text selection to have it translated directly.

The extension works similarly to Firefox Translations, but there are differences between both implementations:

  • Supports in-page translations, not just full page translations.
  • Is powered by a button in the interface as non-Mozilla extensions have no access to the area that Firefox Translations uses.
  • Lacks form field translations (for now).
  • May use models that Firefox Translations does not use.

One of the interesting features of TranslateLocally, besides being able to translate individual words, sentences or paragraphs, is that it may work in conjunction with the desktop app, which improves the translation performance. Another advantage is support for importing other translation models, provided that these support Marian.

Firefox Translations development continues as well. The next version will introduce support for translating text selections. Both projects will benefit from the new EU project as more language pairs will be produced in the coming three years.

Closing Words

Should you use Firefox Translations or TranslateLocally? There is no definitive answer to that, as both offer features that the other does not offer. Support for the translation of text selections is a much requested Firefox Translations feature, but differences exist even after that feature lands.

Now You: which translation service do you use? (via Sören Hentzschel)

Summary
TranslateLocally: local translations as an Extension and Desktop app
Article Name
TranslateLocally: local translations as an Extension and Desktop app
Description
TranslateLocally is an open source browser extension and cross-platform desktop application to translate text locally on user systems.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. userpasspass said on November 6, 2022 at 11:12 am
    Reply

    I fall in love with this project since the first time I have heard about it, being able to translate offline is such a godsend.
    Hopefully Japanese will come later.

    1. Sören Hentzschel said on November 6, 2022 at 3:16 pm
      Reply

      Yes, it was already confirmed that Japanese is “on the list for the new EU-funded project High Performance Language Technologies”.

  2. Anonymous said on November 6, 2022 at 2:19 pm
    Reply

    I use “To Google Translate”. This extension is of no use to me since I need Chinese, Japanese, and some Arabic translation.

  3. binocry said on November 6, 2022 at 2:47 pm
    Reply

    you can download language pair manually at https://translatelocally.com/models.json, extract file until you see folder and put at C:\Users\*user*\AppData\Roaming\translateLocally

  4. Tom Hawack said on November 6, 2022 at 4:02 pm
    Reply

    I had encountered issues with the ‘Firefox Translation’ extension. I’ve just installed ‘TranslateLocally’ and I must say it processes the translation flawlessly and rather quickly though the Desktop isn’t installed.

    I had abandoned a translation extension that I had used for quite some time (TWP – Translate Web Pages) the day I decided to block all connections to Google servers : TWP requires a connection to a Google server for in-page translations.

    I tested translating Sören Hentzschel’s page mentioned in the article with TranslateLocally :) Given I lack knowledge of the German language I have no basis to consider the translation’s quality. I’ll test with English/French, French/English and/or compare with Google Translations via [https://simplytranslate.pussthecat.org/] (or any other SimplyTanslate instance) and with DeepL (both on-line but no in-page translations) later on.

    The nice thing about TranslateLocally is that it translates in-page but avoids displaying the huge bar on the top of the page as ‘Firefox Translation’ does : just the toolbar button, choose your destination language, et voila. Nice.

    1. Sören Hentzschel said on November 6, 2022 at 5:01 pm
      Reply

      > The nice thing about TranslateLocally is that it translates in-page but avoids displaying the huge bar on the top of the page as ‘Firefox Translation’ does

      Firefox Translations will change the UI in a future update as well.

  5. VioletMoon said on November 6, 2022 at 4:50 pm
    Reply

    No Russian? That’s problematic for me.

    Rather slow, albeit precise on a German website.

    What to make of it? So seldom do I need or use a translation service that I may as well stick with Translate this Page. Firefox Translations shows Russian is still in development.

    Not much of a choice for quick reference.

    Could be an excellent choice for some users.

    DeepL for documents?

    1. ????? ???? said on November 6, 2022 at 5:44 pm
      Reply

      Yes, don’t see Russian. Bummer.

  6. Richard Steven Hack said on November 7, 2022 at 2:23 am
    Reply

    Ukrainian but not Russian? You gotta love political correctness…not.

    I use Mate Translate browser extension in Firefox. Works fine. And translates Russian.

    1. Trey said on November 7, 2022 at 5:41 am
      Reply

      Mate hounds you too much during use to upgrade to their pro version.

  7. Belga said on November 7, 2022 at 8:56 am
    Reply

    I use the “Simple translate” extension in Firefox. It also translates individual words, sentences or paragraphs in a popup window.
    The english-French translation of “TranslateLocally” is imperfect compared to Google.
    The translation of a page replaces the original text so that to compare with the original text you have to open the page again in another tab. “Simple translate” opens the translation in a new tab.
    For applications other than Firefox I use Qtranslate.

    1. userpassadmin said on November 7, 2022 at 2:08 pm
      Reply

      Translation will improve as they train more data, that’s the nature of NLP, there’s many better models than Google Translate, just their size can be massive (1GB+).

  8. Mothy said on November 7, 2022 at 4:04 pm
    Reply

    Now You: which translation service do you use?

    I still prefer to use numerous online translation services (ex. Google, Microsoft, DeepL, etc.) via QTranslate desktop app (portable version) as offline or local translation is just not as accurate as online services that can utilize NLP or natural language processing. I also use QTranslate as it makes it easy to compare translations across difference services to ensure the intended meaning since I’ve found translations can vary at times depending on sentence structure and/or grammar.

    I also prefer a stand alone desktop app as I do not like to install any browser extensions. But also because I can just close the app when I do not have a need for translation.

  9. Anonymous said on November 9, 2022 at 6:44 pm
    Reply

    “It appears to be powered by Electron.”

    In other words it’s based on the Google Chromium browser. What a shame for a privacy-motivated software.

  10. Honorius said on November 10, 2022 at 10:21 am
    Reply

    > The desktop app is a standalone application that is available for Windows, Mac and Linux devices. It appears to be powered by Electron.

    Bam! So, it’s basically anyway extension inside chromium. Fake app.

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