A common topic with Shopify and themes is “Does your theme support selling in multiple languages?“. The answer is yes, but there are some additional aspects of this question that you may not be aware of. We will discuss them below.
- Does my Shopify subscription plan matter? Answer: This has changed over time so it’s best advised to check with Shopify support to confirm at this point.
- Will I need an app and, if so, why doesn’t the theme handle everything? Answer: Yes and no. The theme itself contains a translation file containing text. This text is common to all stores – things like “Add to cart”, “Checkout” or “Account login” etc. We supply a few ‘ready-to-go” language translation files in our themes. To see the full list of supported languages you can click here. If you are just looking to have a single language, then you won’t need an app, just the translation file for this particular language. If you are looking to select a language that we have not yet added as a file to your theme, you can manually add the language yourself, by following this guide.If you are looking to have a multi-language site, then you will need an app to manage the multiple translations of the text in the theme along with translating text that you have added. The theme will show a country selector in the header or footer (location of the selector will vary depending on the theme, and you will normally find settings to disable this in the header and footer sections in most themes) A theme cannot translate text that didn’t come with it, for example, your product description, main menu/navigation bar. In other words, anything that you, the merchant, has created. Themes do not provide the interface for translating this kind of text. You will need an app to control and translate these words. Some apps also allow you to correct any translations that it may get wrong.
- Are there any limitations when it comes to selling in multiple languages? Answer: Yes, and these apply to all themes, including Shopify’s free themes, and cannot be overridden by our themes or any third party theme.
- The search bar works only in the shop’s primary language. So if your primary language is English, and someone searches for a word in French, it won’t work. This is a Shopify limitation and not a theme issue – we cannot change or override this.
- Only compatible third-party translation apps are supported by this feature.
- Tags (such as product tags, article tags, and blog tags) can’t be translated.
- Product URLs, such as
/products/large-white-t-shirt, aren’t translated and remain in the language that they were created in, even when a customer is viewing the site in another published language.
- When using your theme, can I see my theme admin area in a different language like Shopify’s own free themes? Answer: No. Shopify has the resources and team at hand, in order to make this level of translations in their free themes, and they don’t help third parties translate theirs. Our themes currently only support an English admin area. We will continue to add more theme translations, as and when we are able.
- Will my URL change to indicate a different language. Answer: Yes. The domain will display the common domain ending based on that language. Examples: ‘.com/fr’ for French or ‘.com/de’ for German etc. This is not controlled by the theme and cannot be changed according to Shopify support documentation. If you have your own domain-specific international language, you can assign this instead. Please follow the link to the Shopify support page which explains this in detail
Manually translating a theme
If you want to translate your theme yourself, you can indeed do this.
- I want to make the translations on my published theme.
We suggest duplicating your theme first. You can publish the duplicate theme while you make the translations in your ‘original’ theme. Once your desired translations are complete, you can re-publish this theme with the translations.
- I don’t want to make my theme live until it is fully translated. Don’t worry, it should only take a few minutes and as mentioned above, you can always duplicate your theme and work on one version until you’re happy with it, then re-publish whenever you’re ready.
- What if a customer comes to my store while I am creating the translations. You can enable the Storefront Password page while you make these changes, which prevents people from seeing your storefront. Add an explanatory message to help customers understand that you are making improvements and will be back online very soon.
How to manually translate a theme (By editing the published theme):
Online Store > Actions > Edit Languages > Actions (Top right) > Change theme language > Select language you want to translate > Save
After the page loads, you will see English on the left and empty fields on the right or, if the theme already has translations for that selected language, you will see the translations which you can then edit if needed.
Add the translation inside these fields. You will also notice headings at the top where you can open more options.
Third-party translation apps
We do not run any testing on these apps, we do not have recommendations on which one to go for. Our advice is to read the reviews and contact the app developer to help to make up your mind.
Language selector only showing up in the theme editor
This can happen if you have multiple domains but have not enabled the languages to appear. Head over to the Domains section inside Shopify admin and click manage on each one.
Here you should be able to see the languages option and be sure to apply the correct languages so they will appear under the language selector.
What languages do your themes come with?
Please note, if you are using any of our themes and don’t see the translation, you may perhaps be running an older version of the theme. To access the translations you will need to update to the latest version. For information about updating your theme, please check out our guide through this link.
All our themes support the following languages:
English, German, French, Dutch, Portuguese (inc Brazil), Danish, Spanish, Italian
Help with theme translation
Theme translations can be a tricky and lengthy process to get right. If you are looking for some help with installing the apps and getting them set up, the app’s own support team will be there to help. If you run into any issues with the app, they should be the first point of contact.
Our support team will not be able to help with app issues and will suggest you get in contact with the app developers. If you are looking for additional help, you can always hire an expert. There is an excellent Shopify developer community out there that can do customisation work (requests to customise original code fall outside the scope of our theme support).
Other Shopify developers: https://experts.shopify.com/developers
The Job Board: https://community.shopify.com/c/Shopify-Ecommerce-Jobs/bd-p/shopify-job-board
Specific tasks: https://experts.shopify.com/services/development-and-troubleshooting