When you need to translate text on a web page then IE8, Google’s Toolbar and various Firefox add-ons are just some of the free solutions that you might call on to help. In our experience they’re frequently unreliable, though, and are generally less useful if you’re looking to translate text in another application. For real versatility you need Dictionary.NET.
The program is portable, so no installation is required – just download, unzip and run the executable. Then simply highlight the text of interest and click the middle mouse button (or press the hotkey combination of your choice). Dictionary.NET will immediately pop up, then use Google Translate to automatically detect the language and translate it for you. And that’s just the start.
If you highlight a single word and call up Dictionary.NET then it’ll give you a dictionary definition, again via Google. You can type words directly into the program for the same result. If you’ve selected a person or other Wikipedia topic then you’ll see the first sentence or two of their Wikipedia entry, along with a link. And there’s even the option to open and translate complete documents (txt, html, mht, rtf, doc, docx and odt formats are supported).
If there’s a down side then it’s the somewhat quirky interface – we had to spend some time clicking and right-clicking on things before figuring out how it all worked. This only took a couple of minutes, though, and once we understood the basics it was all very straightforward. On balance, we think Dictionary.NET is an essential download for anyone who needs something more flexible than the usual online translation tools.