Multi-lingual development support in the Visual Studio IDE

One of the features of Visual Studio that has been around for a while and that I'm not sure a lot of folks know about is multi-lingual development support.  This feature has been present in Visual Studio .NET 2002, Visual Studio .NET 2003 and Visual Studio 2005.

What this feature means is that you can install multiple language versions of Visual Studio on the same machine, and you will end up with a single version of the IDE and a set of satellite language resource files.  Then you can go to the Tools | Options menu and change the language used by the IDE user interface for toolbars, menu items, etc.  This can be very useful in a team development setting where developers want to share terminal server machines that have Visual Studio installed but want to run the IDE in their native UI language.

In case you're interested - behind the scenes, Visual Studio setup uses the concept of vertical integration (which I previously described here) to accomplish the multi-lingual install scenario.

I am very curious to know how many people know that it is even possible to install multiple langauge versions of Visual Studio on the same system.  In addition, I am curious about how many people actually install and use Visual Studio in this kind of scenario.  If anyone reading my blog has any experiences to share with this kind of development scenario, please post a comment so I can learn more about how Visual Studio is being used in the "real world."


Comments (17)
  1. Hi,

    I didn’t know this was possible!

    I teach .NET technologies in France, but my computer’s all in English. So, when a student comes to my computer to correct an exercise or has a question, they generally get a little lost. Not to mention the fact that they pass their tests and Microsoft certifications in their native language…

    I’d really like to try multilingual Visual Studio. What do I have to do? Simply install the French version "over" my current English versions?

    Once I do this, is there a command line flag that will allow me to create two shortcuts: one to open VS in English and another one for French? This would be great…

    Thanks for pointing out this rarely documented feature.

  2. Hi Mauricio – If you want to try out multi-lingual Visual Studio, you simply need to install the 2nd language version (in your case, French) on the same machine that already has the 1st language version (in your case, English) installed.

    To change settings in the IDE, you can go to Tools | Options, and then choose Environment, then International Settings.  In there, you will find a drop-down that lists the languages that are currently available.

    Unfortunately, I do not know of a way to create shortcuts that will allow you to launch Visual Studio with the desired language chosen.

    There is a registry value located at HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftVisualStudio<version_number>General that is named UILanguage that stores the UI language that Visual Studio will use the next time you launch it.  If you have Visual Studio closed, then change that value and launch Visual Studio, it will cause the specified language to be used.

    The data in this registry value is the 4 digit language code for the chosen language.  For example, English is 1033 and French is 1036.  If you change the language value to one that is not installed on your system, Visual Studio will automatically change it back to a default value.

  3. A few days ago, I posted some general information about how multi-lingual development can be enabled…

  4. Hi Mauricio – I found a command line switch that allows you to launch the Visual Studio IDE with the preferred language, so it is possible to create shortcuts like you were asking about.  The command line looks like the following:

    devenv.exe /LCID 1033

    I wrote more about it at if you are interested.  Hope this helps!

  5. Hello Aaron,

    I tried to install the French version of Visual Studio with the English one this weekend, but unfortunately it didn’t work…

    I launched the French installer and followed the instructions until I got to the part where I selected the features of Visual Studio I wanted to install. I unselected all subfeatures and checked only the highest level which was Microsoft Visual Studio. The installer said it required about 400MB, so I supposed it would work. However when I launched VS French was not availble… I tried the command line flag, but it didn’t work either, so I conclude the French version was not correctly installed (even though it appears installed in Add/Remove Programs).

    I’ll try again this week, but if you have any clues on what I did wrong, I’d appreciate your help.


  6. Hi Mauricio – Instead of only installing the highest level feature in the French version of Visual Studio, can you try to install the same set of features that you installed for the English version of Visual Studio?  I believe there are some files in some of the sub-features that you will need for this kind of multi-lingual development scenario.

  7. Hi Aaron,

    It works! This newly discovered feature will be very useful to me in the classes I teach and conferences I might give in different languages.

    I showed my installation to some collegues and they were amazed: they can’t wait to try it themselves.

    As a matter of fact, I blogged about this myself, but in French, keeping with the multilingual spirit. I’ll leave the link here, in case somebody is interested:

    Thanks again

  8. Garrett McGowan (MSFT) says:

    It’s wonderful to see people using this feature! Apparently though, we need to raise awareness of Visual Studio’s support for Multilingual User Interface. The product documentation includes a topic, but I don’t think this feature is surfaced in marketing materials.

    Visual Studio 2005 MUI Help topic:

    <a href=""></a&gt;

    By the way, Document Explorer includes similar MUI support. Additionally, you can change your online Help language preferences via Tools/Options/Help/General. The full list of online languages is available regardless of the Visual Studio UI language.

    (Note: Not all languages have providers for every content type, so it’s recommended to check the ‘Also show English topics’ option on this dialog.)

  9. Garrett McGowan (MSFT) says:

    Sorry, it appears the anchor tag got closed twice. Let’s see if this one without mark-up works:

  10. Hi Mauricio – I’m really happy to hear that things are working for you now and that you’re finding this feature useful.  I studied French in school so I took a look at your post en francais, et c’est bien!  Merci bcp et a bientot.  🙂

  11. Hi Mauricio – You are correct in your statement in your French language blog post that running devenv.exe /LCID 1033 will change the registry value that sets the default VS IDE UI language so the next time the IDE is launched without the /LCID command line parameter it will use the most recent value passed in via /LCID.  I figured I should point that out here as well for folks who don’t speak/read French  🙂

    Hi Garrett – Thank you for posting this follow-up information as well.

  12. Recently, I wrote a couple of blog post (here and here)&amp;nbsp;about how to enable multi-lingual development…

  13. Tim says:

    I have VB 6 in English environment.  I have Chinese language pack installed.  I want to type Chinese characters in the VB editor.  But I am not able to do that.  The Multi-lingual support that is mentioned in this blog may be the answer.  However, does it apply to VB 6 (or Visual Studio 2002)?

  14. Hi Tim – The multi-lingual support described in this blog applies to Visual Studio .NET 2002, 2003 and 2005.  It does not apply to Visual Studio 6 however.  You will need to install the Chinese version of Visual Studio 6 in order to use the Chinese Visual Studio IDE.

  15. Marc Levesque says:

    I’m in Canada and we do business countrywide, so I need an installer to display french also.  I’m installing the French version of Visual Studio right now and hoping that when I’m done, my installer will be able to display French panels if the operating system is French.

  16. Hi Marc – It is possible to create a multi-lingual installer for your application.  It can detect the OS language and then load setup UI resources based on the OS language.  Windows Installer does not support the ability to do this natively, but you can write a setup.exe wrapper that can do this.  The .NET Framework 2.0 and 3.0 setup is architected in this way and you can use that as an example if you’re interested.  If you have more detailed questions about how to create this type of setup, please contact me using and I can try to help.

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