More and more often, as I find myself on websites written in a language other than English, I use Google Translate in order to be able to read the contents of the website. Google Translate isn’t perfect, of course, but it’s almost always “good enough” to allow me to understand what I’m viewing. For websites, using Google Translate is easy. Just copy the URL of the website (or the particular text that needs translation), and go to Google Translate. Either type in the URL (and have the entire page translated), or paste in the text. Google Translate does the rest. Using Google Chrome, this is even easier, as it checks each website, and offers to translate any website it finds that isn’t in my native language. Talk about service!
But sometimes I find myself needing a bit of translation done when I’m not currently using a web browser. Sometimes a Read Me file is written in another language, or I find a passage in a book that I don’t understand. For those instances, I find it nice to have a piece of desktop software that can take advantage of my translation needs, rather than opening up a web browser to do to the job. The program I just took a look at is called QGoogleTranslator. It is written using the Qt language, works on Linux, and as is probably obvious from the name, uses the Google Translate service. As such, it definitely needs a network connection to perform translations, but I find it a better, quicker option than first opening up my browser.
Using QGoogleTranslator is easy. In many instances it’s even easier than using Google Translate in a web browser. You have a couple options as far as how it goes about translating. If you want to set the language of the text needing translation, and the text to translate it to, you can. QGoogleTranslator can also (via Google Translate, of course), automatically detect the “incoming” language so all you need to set is the target language. In my case, this means keeping the Translate To field set at English, while QGoogleTranslator automatically detects the language of the non-English text. At the moment, there are 42 supported languages able to be translated from and to.
What’s particularly nice about QGoogleTranslator is that it can translate text at different moments. It can translate text when the text is in the selection buffer. This means all I have to do is highlight the text in my web browser and the text is automatically translated in QGoogleTranslator, assuming I have it open. This also works from other applications, and not just the web browser. Talk about saving time! QGoogleTranslator can also be set to translate text when a hotkey is pressed, or simply by clicking the Translate button. Translated text can also be sent to the clipboard, so the translation is immediately available for pasting into other documents.
QGoogleTranslator has a system tray icon, which can be used to translate text, toggle the clipboard scanner, swap the “From” and “To” languages, and access the settings area. In the settings area are a few more options, including the ability to speak the translated text, enable a history of all the translated text, set up QGoogleTranslator to use a proxy, and adjust the interface language and font. Finally, QGoogleTranslator supports the ability to “reserve” words, which are taken at face value, instead of a translation being attempted.
I think QGoogleTranslator is a perfect companion to using Google Translate’s service to translate an entire website. The speed I get in translating even large blocks of text is fantastic (although this almost completely depends on my Internet connection and the speed of Google Translate), and I know I can trust the translation (at least as far as I can trust the output I get from Google Translate). The only thing better would be an offline translator, but for all the possible languages, plus the fact that nearly all my translation needs come when I’m online, QGoogleTranslator offers a more than sufficient solution. It looks good, has nice features, and is easy to use. It’s basically everything I want, and more.