Example of how to use Visual Studio IDE language switching

Recently, I wrote a couple of blog post (here and here) about how to enable multi-lingual development scenarios by taking advantage of the Visual Studio IDE UI language switching feature.  I would like to add to those previous posts by showing an example of using this feature, including some screenshots.

For this example, I will use the English and French versions of the Visual C# 2005 Express Edition.  However, it works equally well for any version and UI language of Visual Studio.

I configured my system as follows:

  1. I installed the English version of the Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
  2. I launched the VC# IDE to verify that everything worked as expected
  3. I installed the French version of the Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
  4. I launched the VC# IDE again to verify that everything still worked.  The UI remained in English even though I had installed the French version because this setting was set to use English UI when I launched the IDE in step 2 above

Now that I have both the French and English versions of VC# Express installed, I can easily switch IDE UI languages.  When I launch the IDE with English UI, it appears as follows:

Visual C# 2005 Express Edition IDE with English UI

Once I launch the IDE with English UI, I can do the following to change the UI language to French:

  1. Click on the Tools menu and choose Options...
  2. Check the Show all settings check box at the bottom left of the screen (which is unchecked by default in the VS 2005 Express Editions)
  3. Click the International Settings option under the Environment item in the tree control on the left side of the Options dialog
  4. Select francais in the Language drop down
  5. Click OK to confirm the language change and then press OK on the notification dialog that appears to indicate that the IDE must be restarted for the change to take effect
  6. Close and reopen the IDE

The English Options dialog looks like the following:

Visual C# 2005 Express Edition English international settings dialog

After following the above steps and then reopening the IDE, VC# will appear as follows:

Visual C# 2005 Express Edition IDE with French UI

I am able to change the language back to English by using the same set of steps as listed above, except I need to refer to the French translation for each of the IDE UI elements.  The French Options dialog looks like the following: 

Visual C# 2005 Express Edition French international settings dialog

In addition to using the steps listed above, I can change the IDE UI language by using the following command lines:

  • To launch the IDE with English UI: %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\Common7\IDE\vcsexpress.exe /LCID 1033
  • To launch the IDE with French UI: %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\Common7\IDE\vcsexpress.exe /LCID 1036

It is important to note that when using the /LCID command line switch, the default UI language will be updated in the registry when Visual Studio launches.  That means that if you had previously configured VS to launch in English and you then pass in /LCID 1036, you will set the default language to French.  That means that when you close the IDE and reopen it using the Start menu shortcut it will continue to appear with French UI until you change it in the International Settings section of the Options dialog or launch the IDE with /LCID 1033.

One other interesting note that I want to emphasize here - IDE language switching will be available even if you don't install the exact same edition of Visual Studio for each language.  For example, you can install the English Visual Studio Team Suite and the French Visual Studio Professional.  However, the only UI that will correctly switch languages will be components that are common to the two editions that you install on your system.  So you might see a mix of two different UI languages depending on what editions you have installed on your system and what features you use within the IDE.  In addition, there are limitations in the UI language fallback mechanism for some IDE features, so you may see some features missing from the IDE even though the feature is installed for one of the two UI languages.

<update date="2/10/2011"> Fixed broken links to images used in this post. </update>

Comments (16)
  1. Iwan Jahja says:

    Can’t find the checkbox …

  2. Hi Iwan – The "show all settings" checkbox only appears in the Express Editions.  All settings are visible by default in VS 2005 Standard.

  3. Virgul says:


    "To launch the IDE with French UI: %ProgramFiles%Microsoft Visual Studio 8Common7IDEvcsexpress.exe /LCID 1036"

    You speak about the parameter for launch VS in French and in English but where I can find this code for others languages?

    I need to know which is the code for the german version? Do you know?


  4. Question:

    I saw your blog post demonstrating how to enable Visual Studio IDE language switching.&amp;nbsp;…

  5. Hi Virgul – I posted a follow-up blog item with a complete list of Visual Studio LCID values at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2006/07/19/671825.aspx.  The LCID for German is 1031.

  6. JLuisEstrada says:


    Id Installed the spanish version of VS 2005 team system and I would like to switch it to english.

    Do I have to install the team system’s english version????

    Or could I do it with another version, like the express?

  7. Hi JLuisEstrada – You have to have the English version in order to change the UI to use English strings.  In general, this works best if you have the exact same edition of Visual Studio for both languages (meaning you would want the English Team System).  However, if you install the Express editions, it will still allow you to switch languages.  The Express editions are smaller versions of Visual Studio though, so there may be some items in the Visual Studio UI that will not correctly change to English because there are features in Team System that do not exist in Express, so there will not be corresponding UI strings for them.

  8. Daren Thomas says:

    Hi. I have the german version of Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition installed. I did not have to install any other versions to switch UI language to English.

    Does anybody know how to change the Errormessages emmited by the compiler to english?

  9. Hi Daren Thomas – The Visual Studio IDE will only list languages in that drop-down that match languages of VS that you have installed on your system.  Are you sure an English version of VS wasn’t also installed on this system in addition to the German version at some point in the past?  If you have a product that includes the VS IDE like SQL Server 2005, you could have gotten the VS IDE edition from that and not realize it.

    Compiler messages come from the .NET Framework, so they are controlled by your OS language settings and whether or not you have any .NET Framework language packs installed.  To make the compiler messages change to English, you would need to change your OS language preferences to English or uninstall the .NET Framework German language pack from your system.

    Hopefully this helps.

  10. girishck says:

    I have Visual Studio 2008 German client, and OS is also German. How can I switch language to Us English. It Language setting of Options i am getting only German and OS langugae.  

  11. Hi Girishck – In this scenario, you will need to install an English version of Visual Studio in addition to the German version that you currently have installed.  The Visual Studio IDE will offer language switching options for each of the languages of Visual Studio that you have installed on the system.

  12. Widodo says:

    I just installed vs 2008 pro edition in japanese, my OS in english. However when i tried to change the language setting to 'OS language'. It didn't work, i also tried to change my region and location in control panel (it works for matlab but not for vs). Should i install vs 2008 express edition in english? Thanks.

  13. Hi Widodo – In your scenario, you don't have all of the files that Visual Studio needs to be able to display in your OS language (English).  You will need to install an English version of Visual Studio in order to make the OS language setting work correctly in this scenario.  You can install an express edition, but only the UI that is shared by both the express and Professional editions will be displayed in English.  Any UI that appears in Professional but not in express will still be in Japanese unless you install an English version of Professional as well.

  14. Jeebo says:

    Thank you. you save me. I have changed from chinese(!!!) to Italian.

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