Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X > Changing the language used by OS X

Changing the language used by OS X

An issue that I see occasionally on new Macs is that they’re set to use a language different than mine when I take them out of the box. In my case, the alternate language is most often set to French (for unknown reasons), rather than being set to US English like I’m expecting.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 7 40 51 AM

OS X normally handles this issue as part of the installation process, by asking which language is preferred and using that for the OS.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 7 57 25 AM

However, when I set up new machines, I’m past the point of selecting the language that way. Fortunately, there are alternate ways to change the language used at the login screen. For more details, see below the jump.

If there is just one user account on the Mac, you may be able to change the language globally using the Language & Region preference pane in System Preferences:

1. Log into the Mac
2. Open System Preferences
3. Select Language & Region or its equivalent in the Mac’s current language.

Note: The relevant icon displays the United Nations flag

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 7 45 52 AM

 

4. Set the Region you want

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 04 55 13

5. After the Region information is set, click on the plus ( + ) button.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 4 55 32 AM

6. Select the language you want to use.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 4 55 33 AM

 

7. When it asks if you want to use the new language as the principal language, select the button that says to use the new language.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 4 55 41 AM

8. The new language should now appear marked as the principal language.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 4 55 52 AM

9. If desired, select the old language and click the minus ( ) button to delete it.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 4 55 53 AM

10. When you close the preference pane, you’ll be prompted to restart to set the new primary language.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 4 56 19 AM

11. After the Mac restarts, the login screen should now use the language you set.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 7 59 15 AM

The Language & Region preference pane should also now show the new language and Region settings in the desired language.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 5 01 01 AM

If there is more than one user, or if you just want to change the login window’s language, there’s an alternate tool to use:

1. Log into the Mac
2. Open Terminal
3. Run the following command with root privileges:

languagesetup

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 4 36 08 AM

 

4. A list of languages will be displayed.

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5. Type the number that appears next to the language you want to use. Once entered, press Return on your keyboard.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 04 53 46

 

6. Exit out of Terminal
7. Restart your Mac
8. After the Mac restarts, the login screen should now use the language you set.

Screen Shot 2016 06 03 at 7 59 15 AM

 

For more information about this, please see the Apple KBase article linked below:

https://support.apple.com/HT202036

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