Aleksa Krstic
Aleksa Krstic
March 04, 2024
4 min read
March 04, 2024
4 min read

Practical tips for seamless translation of Apple Strings files

Practical tips for seamless translation of Apple Strings files

Are you finding it challenging to translate Apple Strings files? This guide is designed to help. In this post, we'll explore two common methods for translating Apple Strings files, highlight typical mistakes to avoid, and offer advice to streamline and enhance your translation workflow.

Understanding Apple Strings files

Before diving into the complexities of translating Apple Strings files, it's crucial to first understand their nature and significance in creating multilingual applications for iOS and macOS.

Apple Strings files, designed specifically for localization, store localization messages. This format allows the separation of an application's text translations from its source code, simplifying app maintenance and facilitating the seamless integration of additional languages later on. It requires only minor code adjustments and the translation of textual content for new languages.

Understanding Apple Strings files

Fundamentally, Apple Strings files consist of key-value pairs. Each pair comprises a unique message identifier and its corresponding translation, enclosed in quotation marks. The identifier and translation are separated by an "=" sign, and the pair is concluded with a semicolon. To aid in translation and provide additional context, comments may be inserted before these pairs. This structure allows for a clear and organized method of presenting text that needs translation.

Info: Learn more about the Apple .strings file format.

Different approaches for translating Apple Strings files

Translating Apple Strings files can be tackled using two principal methods. The first method involves using editors that are compatible with the Apple Strings file format, such as Xcode or Notepad++. The second method employs specialized localization tools that are specifically designed for translation tasks.

The primary distinction between these methods lies in the features they offer for translating Apple Strings files. General-purpose editors are valued for their versatility and support for a wide range of file formats. However, due to their broad design, these editors do not offer customization options tailored to specific file types or translation-related tasks. When using such editors for the translation of Apple Strings files, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the file structure and to precisely identify the segments that require translation. This process requires considerable technical knowledge. On the other hand, specialized translation tools are crafted expressly for these purposes. They minimize errors by guiding users to the specific parts of the file that need attention and offer functionalities such as screenshot integration, translation memory, and glossary management. These sophisticated features not only increase efficiency but also ensure that translations are accurate and of superior quality.

Tired of manually editing translation files?

Boost your productivity with the right localization tool.

Common mistakes in Apple Strings file translation

This section explores the typical errors encountered when translating Apple Strings files:

  • Invalid file syntax: Apple Strings files have a unique structure, which can present challenges, particularly for those unfamiliar with technical details, such as translators. Common syntax errors include missing quotes, equal signs, and semicolons, all of which are crucial for the structure of Apple Strings files.
  • Invalid placeholders: Translating placeholders can lead to application errors. It is crucial to differentiate between the text that needs translation and the placeholders that must remain unchanged.

Using specialized tools for translating Apple Strings files not only simplifies the creation of these files but also reduces the likelihood of errors commonly associated with manual translation efforts. Adopting such tools represents a proactive approach to avoiding the aforementioned mistakes.

Automating the translation of Apple Strings files

Automating the translation of Apple Strings files can significantly boost productivity, which is crucial in today's rapidly changing tech landscape. This section outlines methods for enhancing and automating the translation process through advanced localization tools.

Streamlining translation through teamwork

Localization platforms offer a collaborative environment for managing translation projects. They enable the setup of a localization project, invitation of team members (including managers, developers, and translators), and creation of translation tasks. This allows us to focus on other essential aspects of the product while translators can complete their tasks without any problems. Additionally, these platforms help mitigate the errors common in manual translations, thus accelerating the development process.

Below, you can find an example of a translation task assignment on Localizely.

Localizely - Delegating translation tasks

Boosting efficiency with Machine Translation

Localization tools have embraced Machine Translation, enabling quick translations of Apple Strings files, sometimes in just a few seconds. Utilizing Machine Translation followed by human post-review ensures the files are promptly ready for usage.

Below is an example of Machine Translation on Localizely.

Localizely - Utilizing Machine Translation

Employing professional translation services

For those preferring professional translation services, initiating translation orders is a viable option. This approach involves selecting texts for translation, choosing target languages, and specifying the desired tone (e.g., formal or friendly). Professional translators then undertake these orders, delivering high-quality translations within a predetermined timeline.

Below is an example of a translation order on Localizely.

Localizely - Placing translation orders

These advancements not only automate the translation of Apple Strings files but also improve translation quality and efficiency.


In this post, we provided a concise overview of how Apple Strings files can be translated. We presented two common approaches for translating these files and introduced methods that can significantly improve the translation workflow by leveraging specialized localization tools.

Localizely emerges as a leading localization platform that simplifies the translation of Apple Strings files. It features an array of functionalities designed specifically to facilitate software localization tasks. Furthermore, Localizely provides a free plan that doesn't necessitate a credit card, offering an ideal solution for smaller projects. Moreover, it is completely free for open-source projects.

Try Localizely for free.

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Aleksa Krstic
Aleksa Krstic

Aleksa is a Software Engineer at Localizely. Over the past few years, Aleksa has been working in the field of software localization. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar and writing tech posts.

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