I'm a developer, and my primary language is French, so I use Mac OS X in French. However, I need on a regular basis to open an application in English to do support.

Right now I'm going to the International System Preferences and I put English above in the languages list, then I open the app I need to run in English. When I'm done, I switch it back to French.

This is an annoying process. Is there something else I can use, like a command-line program, to launch an application in a specific language?

6 Answers 6


There is a freeware, Language Switcher, to launch a single application with a different languages.

it's really simple and work amazingly.


You can change the language inside the preferences file of the application :

defaults write com.apple.TextEdit AppleLanguages '("en-US")'

Or just run once one application with another language :

/Applications/iCal.app/Contents/MacOS/iCal -AppleLanguages '(de)'

To determine the bundle identifier, run

mdls -name kMDItemCFBundleIdentifier /Applications/Mail.app

or directly in one command:

defaults write $(mdls -name kMDItemCFBundleIdentifier -raw /Applications/Mail.app) AppleLanguages '("en-UK")'

(via SuperUser)

  • Interesting. The direct "program-call"-approach works for Excel, but not for Numbers. With Numbers you have to change language in the preference file. (The first example above).
    – Erk
    Oct 15, 2016 at 21:45
  • This preference does not work anymore on 10.11. Is there any alternatives? Oct 19, 2016 at 12:00
  • 1
    It just worked for me on 10.11, no problem here.
    – Ben-Uri
    May 3, 2017 at 21:50
  • Worked for me on High Sierra (10.13) as well. Jan 19, 2018 at 9:10

Go to the app, Press Command + I and if there are other languages they will show up in the info page. Just untick all except the language you want

  • 5
    This no longer work in Snow Leopard. Aug 18, 2010 at 21:59
  • In Safari on Mojave, it is email shortcut.
    – anki
    Sep 23, 2019 at 10:42

For Google Chrome do this:

defaults write com.google.Chrome AppleLanguages '("en-US")'
  • For Compressor is com.apple.Compressor
    – motobói
    May 30, 2020 at 15:55

I also found this to work:

bash-3.2$ LANG=de.UTF-8
bash-3.2$ /Applications/MuseScore\ 3.app/Contents/MacOS/mscore 

German menu


In the Finder, get info on the application. There are languages here, and you can choose. Alas, this seems to have disappeared in Snow Leopard.

  • 5
    How does this differ from @Avi's answer made 3 years ago?
    – mmmmmm
    Aug 25, 2013 at 11:07

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