Skip to content

How to change language in R (Windows version at least)

Like a lot of open-source programs, R comes with the highly annoying “feature” of being extremely localized. Not only does it default to your system’s language, but also it makes it a pain in the neck to manage to change the language: using the “GUI preferences” menu (or whatever it is in your locale, haha ^^) to change the language doesn’t even seem work… (you need to restart R for a language change to apply, but when you restart your custom configuration doesn’t get loaded – awesome)
But, well, someone asked the question on an R mailing list hosted by the University of Newcastle, Australia, and the solution is to run R with the added command line parameter LANGUAGE=en (edit the shortcut to R and add this stuff at the end).

On a side note, the solutioner points out a very common mistake made by localizers:

“Apparently some users want Windows in their native language, but not R.”

Dear localizers, you appear to forget or ignore the fact that some people run your software on their work computer, where they don’t have the choice of their OS nor of their language. You also seem to ignore that in some countries it’s pretty hard to grab a legal non-local copy of Windows. So please, don’t make it hard for users to change your program’s language back to normal (i.e. English). How would you like it if I forced you to read a Google-translated version of this notepad in your local language, hm?

Update (2012-01-16): as mentioned in the comments, an alternative, more radical solution is simply to delete the share/locale folder. It contains translation files, and if R can’t find them it will fall back to English.

Update (2014-11-05): as mentioned in another comment, another solution is simply to use the command Sys.setenv(LANGUAGE="en").

Posted in R (R-project).

45 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Kapila says

    Right click the shortcut icon in your desktop. Select Shortcut tab if it is not the default selection. Type LANGUAGE=en after the texts in Target field. Apply and restart R.

  2. patheticcockroach says

    Yeah I guess I could have been more accurate in the instructions. Thanks for the clarification ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, what you describe works just as well with start menu shortcuts.

  3. Nyanzura says

    Hey guys,
    I am pretty new to R, am trying to change the language from Germany to English. I come across your comments. I am trying to apply but unfortunately not successful,
    the text in my target box reads,
    C:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exe”
    I have tried to add LANGUAGE=en as below but when I click apply am getting a message “the name in the text box is not valid”
    “C:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exe\\LANGUAGE=en”

    Please advice me what should I do

  4. patheticcockroach says

    I think you’ll want to use something like:
    โ€œC:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exe" LANGUAGE=en
    (or maybe:)
    โ€œC:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exe LANGUAGE=en"

  5. Nyanzura says

    Hi David,
    Thank you very much for your time. I have tried the two option but still it is not working!

  6. patheticcockroach says

    Are you still getting the same error message? Are you sure you didn’t accidentally mess with the path (ie, does “C:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exe” exist”)? I’m doing this on Win XP 32 bits, so I don’t know what changes there might be in Win 7 (?) 64 bits. ๐Ÿ™ And I won’t have access to a Win 7 computer until the end of July to check that out…

  7. Nyanzura says

    No, the error message is different now, I have tried this path,
    “C:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exe” LANGUAGE = “en” and i didn’t get the same error message. But after restarting my computer nad start R, am getting error message ” argument LANGUAGE ignored” and then “argument en ignored” and after that R opens but the language is not changed. I will keep on looking for solution and i will give you the feedback.

  8. patheticcockroach says

    Well, if you don’t mind a not too clean solution (yet actually, quite clean since it frees some HD space ;)), you can just delete the whole share/locale folder. That’s cheating, but that’s definitely working. ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Nyanzura says

    Hey David, Thank you very much again for your time. I decided to uninstall the 64bit and install 32bit on a win 7 machine, fortunately it is working well now! Thanks!

  10. silvia and geraldine says

    thanks a lot

  11. James Blunt says


    โ€œC:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exe” LANGUAGE=en

    as the shortcut target worked here, adding LANGUAGE=en to Rconsole as suggested in the R FAQ didn’t do the trick. If you only want R in English, you can unselect the translations on install. The problem is that some plugins (e.g. Rcmdr) will still be translated to your locale.

    They really should make the GUI preference work, it’s there…

    • Peipei says

      I am using 64-bit and it works for me too!

  12. Mark Dirnt says

    Guys thank you SO much. I am working in a Japanese company in the middle of nowhere…I know some japanese but why should I go crazy over some lazy localiser dumbass? Put an option easy to find in the dropdown menus. That`s it.


  13. SAJJAD says

    hi guys…

    how to change RGui language from french to english…? I am trouble to do this according to the ideas given above…
    How can I don this.
    I have the following path:
    “C:\Documents and Settings\shsajjad\Mes documents\R\R-2.13.0\bin\R.exe”


  14. patheticcockroach says

    Hi Sajjad,
    I guess the following should work then:

    โ€œC:\Documents and Settings\shsajjad\Mes documents\R\R-2.13.0\bin\R.exeโ€ LANGUAGE=en

  15. Layman says

    I am just a beginner to R. I have become upset after seeing the menu in Japanese. I use a 64bit WIndows 7 PC. I followed the instruction available at this page. I tried the following command when the R was not running.

    “C:\Program Files\R\R-2.13.1\bin\x64\Rgui.exe” LANGUAGE=en

    It instantly opened the GUI with English menus. Thanks to this site and the contributors.

    and was able to change

  16. lazy says

    Thank you all for the post. Dear localizer, please understand, there are some programs, whose
    keywords are de factor standard and should not be translated in any language. Thanks!

  17. Maryse says

    Always nice to find answers to our problems! I run R on Windows 7 64 bit (French) and tried as suggested to delete the share/locale folder, but some error messages were still in French after that. Adding LANGUAGE=en worked well ๐Ÿ™‚

    “C:\Program Files\R\R-2.13.2\bin\x64\Rgui.exe” LANGUAGE=en

    Thanks a lot!

  18. harlequin says

    The below solution is the best one for users who use R through Eclipse.
    Thanks very much!


    Well, if you donโ€™t mind a not too clean solution (yet actually, quite clean since it frees some HD space ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), you can just delete the whole share/locale folder. Thatโ€™s cheating, but thatโ€™s definitely working. ๐Ÿ˜€


  19. patheticcockroach says

    Wow, I didn’t even know there was a way to use R with Eclipse. At the moment I usually use either RStudio or R Analytic Flow.

  20. Omar says


    I tried this and it works well, until now.
    Go to:

    C:\Program Files\R\R-2.14.1\share\local

    and delete your language folder, and then run R.


  21. namazu says

    Thanks for sharing information, I used following and it works
    โ€œC:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exeโ€ LANGUAGE=en

  22. patheticcockroach says

    On a side note, you might want to get a more up-to-date version…

  23. Alina says

    Dear Namazu, I am just starting get accustomed with R and would like to change the laguage of menu, like other users sometime do.
    I would like to apply Your scheme, but I do not understand what should I print within the console?
    Could You please, detalize a little?
    โ€œC:\Program Files\R\R-2.11.1-x64\bin\Rgui.exeโ€ LANGUAGE=en

  24. patheticcockroach says

    @Alina: as explained in the first comment (on page 1): Right click the R shortcut, then select “Properties”. Select Shortcut tab if it is not the default selection. Type LANGUAGE=en after the texts in Target field. Apply and restart R (using the shortcut). You don’t need to use the console.
    Cf picture:

    If the language you want is English, it might be simpler to just delete the share/locale folder.

    • Ling says

      Thanks David very much,
      “C:\Program Files\R\R-3.0.2\bin\i386\Rgui.exe” LANGUAGE=en
      Works perfectly. It also works if we want to change the language of RStudio.

    • siburian says

      working…like magic…

  25. namazu says

    Dear Alina,
    Sorry to response you so late. As David showed in the picture, it is very easy to change the language.
    You to to Start>Program>R and right click on that then choose properties.
    No need to go to C:> Program>…xxx

  26. Anonymous says


    I tried “C:\Program Files\R\R-2.10.1\bin\Rgui.exe”LANGUAGE=en, but there is an error. The error msg says the name is not valid. Could anyone help me with it?


  27. Anonymous says


    This time, I tried โ€œC:\Program Files\R\R-2.10.1\bin\Rgui.exeโ€ LANGUAGE=en, the name has been changed. But the language is still not English. Can anyone help me with it?


  28. patheticcockroach says


    If you’re sure you won’t need the other languages, I’d say don’t bother with the shortcut and just delete the share/locale subfolder. Or move it to some other place, if you want to be able to restore it.

  29. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the help David re language change! (am a novice too)

  30. Alen says

    Thank you very much David! I’ve been all the afternoon long trying to find a way to change the language and the ‘help’ and manuals are not helpful at all. as U said, I’m working in Germany, but I cannot read German. this guys from R are crazy: how can they asume so easily that my ‘native language’ is German?
    thank a lot again

  31. Mudireddy Srikanth says


    I solved this with two steps
    1. Made backup of whole LOCAL folder
    2. In original LOCAL folder i removed all other local settings than the one i need. In my case it is en (i also kept en-GB) to be sure

  32. Anonymous says

    I’m on a Korean computer and I don’t even really know the alphabet, so this localizing of the software, even after I pick English, is frustrating. How do you find the locale/share file. where is it? It’s not in the R file.

  33. patheticcockroach says

    It’s not locale/share, it’s share/locale. I don’t know Korean, maybe your software is reversing words:
    – first go to the R folder,
    – then the share subfolder,
    – then within this you’ll find the locale folder.

  34. mido dison says


    thank you so so much, your suggested trick (share/locale) works perfectly !

  35. Brian says

    Works good for me. I just deleted the ” share locale” file and it works fine.

  36. Yanti says

    Thank you so much. It’s very difficult to work with R in French ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Neo says

    Hi ,

    Is there any package or any way in R to convert source text from French to English? Any help would be great. Thanks

    • patheticcockroach says


      Sorry but I’m not really sure what you’re trying to do there. Translate source comments?

  38. Randy says

    as simple as one line ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Maxim Nasurdinov says

    Thanks a lot! This works!

  40. Oleg S. says

    Guys, hi from 2019!
    Problem still unsolved, however, there’s a Rconsole file in etc/ directory of R installation. In that file put

    ## Language for messages
    language = en

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Sorry about the CAPTCHA that requires JS. If you really don't want to enable JS and still want to comment, you can send me your comment via e-mail and I'll post it for you.

Please solve the CAPTCHA below in order to fight spamWordPress CAPTCHA