Using Loco Translate to change WordPress Strings

Using Loco Translate to change WordPress Strings

In this quick article, we’ll cover a common topic I come across when site owners want to modify a bit of text included in a theme or plugin – translations. Translations are typically thought of when changing languages, but there are a lot of other neat tricks we can do with translations. Some examples:

  • Changing all instances of a word to another word (“Click Here” to “Sign Up”)
  • Changing spelling of words to better fit your region’s grammar rules (“Color” to “Colour”)
  • Changing the currency symbol to a non-standard symbol (“$” to ““)

While there are a lot of ways to add custom translations to your site like the gettext PHP filter, a plugin like Say What?, or a program like Poedit, my favorite fast and code-free way to add a text translation is Loco Translate, a free plugin on the Repository. Below, we’ll go through step-by-step on how you can use Loco Translate to modify strings on your site.

Using Loco Translate – Text Walkthrough

In our example case, we have a WooCommerce store where a composite product’s optional drop-down selection field defaults to “None”, as in the user chooses not to purchase any additional options. This could be interpreted as there are no available options, so instead of “None”, we want to display “Choose an Option…”

We know that we’ll need to modify the Composite Product’s language file, so with that in mind, here are the steps you’d take:

  1. Download Loco Translate and activate it on your site.
  2. In the administration sidebar, you should see a “Loco Translate” option. Since we’re modifying a plugin, hover to expand the menu and click “Plugins”.
  3. A list of all installed plugins will come up. Search for the correct plugin to modify and select it.
  4. Choose the option “New Language”.
  5. Select the current language for your site (if you’re using an English version of WordPress, use English, etc.) and make sure that “System” is the chosen option. It’s very important that “System” is selected, as this will prevent your changes from being lost when a plugin or theme updates.
  6. Find the string that you want to change with the filter box.
  7. In the second box on the left, add what you want to display. You can leave a note to yourself in the right-hand sidebar.
  8. Save your changes and reload your site.

Your modifications should now be live and ready to view!

Using Loco Translate – Video Walkthrough

Since that can be a lot of steps (and would mean a lot of screenshots), here’s a quick video walkthrough to get you started.

That’s all it takes – no code, no pain, no FTP, just quick translations. The steps are similar if you were modifying WordPress Core or a Theme – you would just want to choose that option from the Loco Translate sidebar menu and find it there. Note that some plugins don’t have a translation file – in that case, you’re going to have to dig deeper to try and find a way around it, which will likely involve some custom code.

With all of that in mind, it’s time to get translating! 🙂

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6 Responses to “Using Loco Translate to change WordPress Strings”

  1. pavanbabublog June 12, 2017 at 06:25 EDT (6:25 AM) #

    how to add string those no translate our languge

  2. Jill C. March 15, 2018 at 04:35 EDT (4:35 AM) #

    On the checkout page, on “ship to different address” I would like to change “Company Name” to “Phone number for EMS”. I entered this in Loco Translate, and it works, however, it also changes it under Billing Address, which already has phone number. So under billing address there are two fields “Phone number for EMS” and “Phone*”. How can I change only the one under Shipping? Thanks.

    • Danny Santoro March 16, 2018 at 13:40 EDT (1:40 PM) #

      This one is a bit trickier – essentially, by translating a string you change the string everywhere it appears. In your situation you may want to look into Checkout Field Editor which allows you to change titles, though that is a paid plugin. If you’d like, send an email to they may be able to offer a specific fix or template change.

  3. DM February 16, 2022 at 11:03 EST (11:03 AM) #

    When I set the new language and choose system I get this error: Error: woocommerce-en_GB.po already exists in this folder

    • Danny Santoro February 16, 2022 at 11:31 EST (11:31 AM) #

      Hmm, that should be an empty folder. Are you using a translation plugin like WPML?

  4. edaily886b4df91c September 15, 2022 at 10:45 EDT (10:45 AM) #

    Perfect, did exactly what I wanted. Changed the baked in “Ship to a different address” checkbox text in WooCommerce to “Different service or shipping address”.

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