How to use offline translation in Monterey

Although I’m not a heavy user of Google Translate, and recognise its many imperfections, I do rely on it to help me translate from quite a wide range of languages to English. One of the new features tucked away in the long list of improvements in macOS 12 Monterey is both online and offline translation. This article explains how you can use them to become less reliant on Google’s online services.

The basics are very simple: select the text you want to translate, which could have been recognised and converted using Monterey’s new Live Text feature, bring up the contextual menu (Control-click, two-finger tap, etc.) and from that select the Translate … command.


Depending on whether you have downloaded any languages for offline translation, you’ll then be invited to select the languages before clicking on the Translate button.


A few seconds later the translated text should appear in the floating window. Whatever you do at this stage, don’t click on anything other than the controls in this window. If you do, the translation will vanish and you’ll be back to where you started. You’ll normally want to copy the translation to paste it somewhere else.

If you haven’t yet downloaded any language support, and online translation isn’t available, your attempt may fail. I therefore recommend that, for the time being at least, and for those languages you’re most likely to use, you enable offline translation and download the supporting files required.


Do this by clicking on the new Translation Languages… button at the foot of the General tab in the Languages & Region pane.


Start by clicking your common destination language, in my case English (UK), and immediately add the target languages you’re most likely to need, such as French (France), Italian (Italy), and here Arabic. When you do this, all will be downloaded simultaneously. If you later add another language such as German (Germany), you’ll find that your common destination language has to be downloaded again. To ensure offline translation is used, tick the box for On-Device Mode. Once the downloads are complete, check them and click Done.


As always with machine translation, the quality of the result varies, sometimes unexpectedly. Here, translation from standard written Arabic has proved accurate.


Try to translate the same text, this time with all the vowels explicit, and your translator makes a bit of a nonsense, though.

I’ll leave you to puzzle out how the history of women in France became translated as Tar.