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Translate text from the Windows desktop with QTranslate

07 July 2014, Mike Williams

Web tools like Google Translate or Bing Translator have done a great job of bringing speedy translations to the masses, but they’re not always ideal for regular use: you’ll be forever copying, task switching, pasting, setting options and maybe a whole lot more.

QTranslate is a free Windows tool which gives much easier access to a range of web translation tools, including Google Translate, Bing Translator, Promt, Babylon, SDL, Yandex.Translate, youdao and Baidu.

Install and launch the program, and QTranslate adds an icon to your system tray. To translate some text for the first time, select it in any application and hit Ctrl twice. The main QTranslate window appears, displaying the source text, the translation (English > Russian by default) and the translation service used (Google). These defaults probably won’t be what you need, but you’re able to select a new destination language and service here. Close the window when you’re done.

Select some text and you can be viewing the translation in a click

Now the program is set up correctly, you can translate text in any application by selecting it, then tapping Ctrl twice to display it in the main program window, or Ctrl+Q to view it in a less obtrusive pop-up window.

If you’re unhappy about a translation, clicking one of the other services will use that one instead. You can also click the headphone icon to hear your text in spoken form. And when you’re done, clicking the “b<>a” icon in the pop-up window replaces the selected text with your translation.

The hotkeys can all be customised, but if you’d prefer not to use them, QTranslate also supports a mouse mode. Click its system tray icon to turn this on. Select some text now in any application and a tiny QTranslate icon appears at your mouse cursor. If you don’t need a translation – you’re selecting the text for some other reason – then ignore this, and it’ll disappear in a few seconds. But if you click the icon, the translated text appears in a pop-up window (it’s the equivalent of pressing Ctrl+Q).

This all worked just fine for us, but if you need more than there are some thoughtful bonus tools included. An on-screen keyboard can be set to your preferred language, for instance, helping you type otherwise awkward characters. And a dictionary window uses more online services to check your chosen text online.

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