Locale Settings

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While Gnucash was written in American English, there are many localizations (translations, number formats, ...) available. This page shows how to select them. An additional source is The User’s View in the Gettext manual.

System settings

In general, GnuCash uses the system settings of your computer. So the control center for system settings of your operating system, distribution or desktop environment should be your first choice to adjust them:

  • Linux
  • distro dependent: if one exists, the configuration tool of your distribution (like Yast in openSUSE) might be your first choice, because it might apply the settings to all environments and for all users. Additionally it will install the respective language packages, if they are missing.
  • Gnome: Computer->[System->]Controlcenter->[System->]Language
  • KDE: Start->System settings->Regional
  • At the shell prompt, execute
  • csh: ‘setenv LANG de_DE’,
  • sh: ‘export LANG; LANG=de_DE’ or
  • bash, ksh: ‘export LANG=de_DE’.
This can be set for your system from your .login, .profile or .bashrc file.
Note
By default bash uses .login for remote logins and .bashrc for interactive shell, but some distibutions like openSUSE source .bashrc in .login. Then it has only to be done in .bashrc.
  • MacOS:
  • Mavericks (10.9) and newer: System Settings>Language and Region
  • Snow Leopard (10.6) through Mountain Lion (10.8): System Settings>Languages and Text
  • Windows
  • 7: To change the UI language, use Start->Control Panel->[Clock, Language and Region->]Change display language. To change number and date formats, use Start -> Control Panel -> [Clock, Language and Region] Change format locale.
  • Vista:

(Feel free to complete and correct this list)

  • Since DOS incl. OS/2:
At the shell prompts of COMMAND.COM and cmd.exe: SET LANG=de_DE

Usually you must then restart your session - re-login.

But there are some cases, e.g. as a translator or bug hunter, where you wish to tweak them. Usually this is done by setting the locale environment variables with proper #IETF language tags, but the How depends on your operating system.

Basics

Here are a few basic points to consider.

Language tags

There are at least 2 slightly different definitions of language tags: The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) defined the language tags in BCP 47, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in IEEE Std 1003.1 (aka POSIX). In short, commonly they are of the form:

<language>[_<region>][.<charset>]

where usually

The POSIX standard includes an additional modifier:

[language[_territory][.codeset][@modifier]]

The @modifier will be used if e.g. different scripts are available like cyrillic vs. latin.

The preferred charset is UTF-8, which has enough space for all known scripts, but Windows might wish another codepage. In some Linux distributions (like Fedora 21), at least as long as the language is not installed system wide, the default is @euro, a shortcut for ISO-8859-15, which is different from UTF-8. If the program crashes as described in Bug 628710 - Crash when calling "New File" with a charset <> utf8 in LANG or showing a line like Invalid UTF-8 string passed to pango_layout_set_text() on the command line or in the log file, you should explicitly set the charset to utf-8.

Under Linux

locale

shows your current settings,

locale -a

gives you a list of the installed locales on your system and

locale -m

of the charmaps.

If the list is too long you can filter it, e.g.

locale -a | grep de_

to see available combinations for german (de).

See

> man locale
Man: find all matching manual pages (set MAN_POSIXLY_CORRECT to avoid this)
* locale (5)
  locale (7)
  locale (1p)                                                                              
Man: What manual page do you want?
Man: 1p

for further details.

If your desired language or charset is missing you should install them using the tools of your operating system.

LANG vs LANGUAGE

LANG sets a whole bunch of other LC_ variables, which you can always check, at least under Linux, by running locale. This setting affects things like

  • the default currency
  • formats of date and numbers
  • available account templates

LANGUAGE can contain a priority list of languages to be used by the program surface. You can set it to a colon separated list of language codes, which you prefer over US English - the fallback if your languages are not found. E.g. set your system to

LANG=fy_NL 
LANGUAGE=fy:nl

if you are a westfrisian who prefers frisian and understands nederlands better than English. Or if you understand Spanish better than English, but wish to create an US tax report, you can run

LANGUAGE=es LANG=en_US gnucash

gettext manual: The LANGUAGE variable

At least under Linux, you can simply unset LANGUAGE and only use LANG. Please report here, which are required for other OSes.

OS dependent tweaking

Verify translations are installed

Some distributions split regional stuff in separate packages. Use your package manager to verify you did not miss to install GnuCash.Locale, gnucash-lang or however they named it.

Note
Our MacOS and Windows bundles include the translations.

Changing the Language on Linux

In some cases (see #LANG vs LANGUAGE) you should set the LANGUAGE and LANG environment variables before starting GnuCash. For example:
$ env LANGUAGE=fr_FR
$ env LANG=fr_FR
$ gnucash
This example sets the variables to use GnuCash in French (français) and then launches GnuCash.
You could also do this in one line:
$ LANGUAGE=de_DE LANG=de_DE gnucash
This example sets the language to German (Deutsch).
This one-line method can also be used if you like to change the default language for the GnuCash menu item (or in the gnucash.desktop file). For these cases, the path to GnuCash is usually a full path and the command is followed with '%f', which represents the file to be opened:
$ LANGUAGE=de_DE LANG=de_DE /usr/bin/gnucash %f

On some systems the encoding could be part of the locale name, like "no_NO.UTF-8". You can use these names as well.

Note
no is a macrolanguage containing
  • nb - Bokmål which is supported by GnuCash and
  • nn - Nynorsk which is unsupported.
If "no_NO" fails, try "nb_NO".
You should first test your setting by calling it on the command line. Then you might see
The locale defined in the environment isn't supported. Falling back to the 'C' (US English) locale

if something still is wrong, i.e. you did not install or enable the respective language and region support of your OS.

Note for Debian users

Make sure your locales of the language in which you want GnuCash to appear are properly installed. You can check by locale -a | grep de_DE (in case of German). If nothing is in output, run dpkg-reconfigure locales and install needed one. Eventually you will have run locale-gen afterwards to make the newly-installed locales available.

Note that the default desktop manager for Debian is GDM which does NOT read the .xsession files. To get the right language using GDM, use the Options button on the GDM login screen and set the default language. (The list includes all those languages supported by locales). When you login, confirm that the new language is to be the default for future sessions.

Notes for Ubuntu users

If the previous instructions don't work, please check the following items:

  • if you have installed localepurge package, be sure that the locale you are using is not deleted after the installation of gnucash. To check this, reconfigure localepurge, and be sure to not include your locale in the list of the ones to be deleted
    sudo dpkg-reconfigure localepurge
    
Then reinstall all gnucash packages:
sudo apt-get install --reinstall gnucash gnucash-common gnucash-doc
  • If you can get the graphical interface in the correct language , but you can't get the accounts in the desired locale, you have to add the LC_ALL variable, like in the following example:
    LANG=it_IT.UTF-8 LANGUAGE=it_IT.UTF8 LC_ALL=it_IT.UTF-8 gnucash
    

Changing the Language on MacOS

By default, Gnucash will select the first available translation from the list in your language list (System Settings>International or System Settings>Languages and Text, depending on what version of MacOS you're using). Other localization settings (numeric format, date format, and default currency) are determined from the "Formats" tab of the same System Settings panel. Environment variables have no effect, and there is no environment.sh file.

If you want to use a different translation from the one that is automatically selected, you can run the following in Terminal.app:

  defaults write -app Gnucash AppleLanguages '(de, en)'

(Use whatever language codes you want, replacing Deutsch and English. It won't work if there isn't a translation file for the language you want.) Some versions of MacOS don't accept -app Gnucash and emit Can't determine domain name for application Gnucash. In that case use org.gnucash.Gnucash in place of -app Gnucash.

If you want to unset it (that is, return to using the system settings), run this:

defaults delete -app Gnucash AppleLanguages

You can adjust the other locale settings similarly: Use

AppleLocale  'xx_XX'

providing a language and country code; you can specialize it for currency with AppleLocale 'xx_XX@currency=YYY', where YYY is a valid ISO-4217 currency code.

NB: The quotes around the value must be single quotes. If you use double quotes you'll get the following error:

 Rep argument is not a dictionary
 Defaults have not been changed.

Changing the Language on Windows

GnuCash 3.0 or newer

If you are running GnuCash 3.0 (or newer) on Windows, you can set the interface language by editing the file environment.local. This file does not exist by default, but you can create one as administrator in c:\\Program Files\gnucash\etc\gnucash next to the file called environment:
[Variables]
LANG=fr_CA
LANGUAGE={LANG}

Note the second line can usually remain as-is, unless you explicitly want to configure LANG and LANGUAGE differently as explained under #LANG vs LANGUAGE. The braces are a variable expansion of the LANG variable. You can find more information in the environment file in the same directory.

GnuCash 2.4.0 - 2.6.21

If you are running GnuCash 2.4.0 - 2.6.21 on Windows, you can set the interface language by editing the file environment. By default this file is installed in c:\\Program Files\gnucash\etc\gnucash. Change this file as administrator such that the last few lines are:
# If you wish GnuCash to use a different language, uncomment the two parameters
# below and set LANG to your preferred locale
LANG=nl_BE
LANGUAGE={LANG}

Note the second line can usually remain as-is, unless you explicitly want to configure LANG and LANGUAGE differently as explained under #LANG vs LANGUAGE. The braces are a variable expansion of the LANG variable.

Don't forget to remove the comment signs: #.

The Language lines in your Environment file should look like this (change language variables based on desired language):
LANG=fr_CA
LANGUAGE={LANG}

Swedish and probably other Languages

According Bug 725296 Unable to change language from english using the environment file there seems to be something wrong in the table translating ISO-639 language codes - specialized with ISO-3166-1 country codes where appropriate - in Microsoft locale names.

Workaround
In the environment file set
LANG=Swedish_Sweden
LANGUAGE=sv

Support State

This section explains how to get the current state of translated languages and adapted account templates for specific regions.

Supported Languages

While we have many translations for the program, there are fewer documentation translations.

Program

You can easily see an outdated overview at the Translation Project.

The next GnuCash release will have (at least partial) support of your language, if you see <language>.po in the stable branch of our Github po directory

Feel free to click on Branch->Tags there to select your current version or some historical data.

To see the completeness of any .po file download it and run

msgfmt --statistics <language>.po

or in your preferred po file editor. You can find an overview of them in Translation#Tools.

msgfmt -c <language>.po

can be used to check the file for syntactical errors. The program msgfmt is part of the package Gettext

Documentation

Similar as for the #Program you can search the documentation for a <language> directory:

Improving Translations

If you think the translations could be improved, continue on our Translation page.

Supported Regions

Finally for the account templates search your <language>[_<region>] directory.

Font Issues

(main section should be moved from FAQ#Q:_How_get_I_rid_of_strange_unreadable_characters_or_adjust_the_font_size

Rare Fonts

We have translations in scripts which are rare in most common fonts. See Published_tools#Fonts for places to download them.

Adjusting Currency Symbols

In order to support the use of appropriate currency symbols when using foreign or multi-currency accounts, In GNUCash 2.6.x is ongoing work on Bug 723145 - Currency display does not respect locale. Some versions of Gnucash do not ask the currency symbol in the right order from the different settings. If for example your locale was set to en_US and you had a Euro account, "EUR" would prefix monetary amounts rather than the preferable "€" (Euro sign). Currency symbols are now taken from a pre-populated list based on ISO-4217.

The default symbols are not always appropriate for every region setting however. For example, the default display symbol for the Canadian dollar is "C$", which is not optimal if you are in Canada using only CAD accounts. In this context, simply "$" is preferable. Therefore, it is possible to customize the display symbol for any currency in the security editor Tools->Securities->Currency.