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Translation Software: What it is, how it works & more

If you’re interested in learning all about translation software, you’re in the right place. In this post, we explore the meaning of “translation software” and how translation systems work (in an easy-to-comprehend way). You’ll gain a better understanding of the common types of users, translation tool benefits and much more.

First, we’ll start out by defining “translation software.”

Definition of Translation Software

Translation software is any computer application that converts text from one language to another. It falls into a wide spectrum of software solutions; everything from Translation Memory to Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT tools) to sophisticated enterprise translation software.

When it comes to professional translation software, its purpose is to improve the language translation process and/or output for the end user in order to reap a specific benefit or set of benefits.

Whether the translation software is used to translate internal communications or external-facing content, effective use  offers a path to a more streamlined workflow, translation quality improvement, keep your organization safe and generate significant cost savings.

What Organizations Use Translation Software?

Various types of organizations use translation software to meet their goals and support their missions. While they might use a translation tool differently and in different contexts depending on their goals and operations, the common denominator is that they seek to expand or improve their multilingual communication efforts.

Examples of organizations that commonly adopt translation software include:

Typical End Users

While there are many different types of people within various industries who use this software, users commonly fall into the following categories.

Bilingual Employees

Frequently called on to assist with translations for their organization

Monolingual Employees

These are Managers who need to translate emails and documents for internal use. They’re typically translating confidential information, so security is really important, and don’t need perfect translation. Compliance Managers may also benefit from translation software to perform email and communication audits.

Freelance Translation Professionals

Contract their services out to organizations and individuals

Employees of Translation Companies

Either provide translation services on behalf of their company or use other translation software to develop proprietary solutions

How Does Translator Software Improve Processes?

The manual translation process is lengthy and may involve several moving parts, depending upon the project.

The type of translation platform that an organization or user adopts ideally includes a feature set that provides the best combination of functions to serve that particular organization and users.

Translation software functions as a computer assisting in the development of translations. How it helps the user is dependent upon the functionality of the software system and if those capabilities match the user’s needs.


The following functions are commonly facilitated by translation software.

  • Storing human-translated segments of text
  • Reusing previously translated segments of text
  • Automatically editing multiple segment repetitions across a file or batch of files
  • Terminology management (pull translations from approved glossary/terminology lists)
  • Fast batch file translation
  • Copy-and-paste text translation
  • Real-time translation collaboration
  • Project management workflow
  • Text-to-speech translated audio files
  • Maintaining a secure translation environment
  • Sharing translations with external applications via API

Premium vs. Free Tools

Premium Translation Solutions

Premium translation software is made for organizations and individuals who need access to powerful translation technologies and online security. Organizations typically expect onboarding and human technical support while individuals usually have a DIY mentality and like figuring things out themselves.

Organizations and users pay for a specific feature set that helps them more efficiently achieve human-quality translations and/or adds value to their services and work.

Core Benefits of Premium Translation Software

  1. Streamlines translation workflow
  2. Yields significant cost-savings on producing human-quality translation
  3. Saves a lot of time and effort

Typical Plan Payment Options

  1. Month-to-month subscription
  2. Annual license (often offered with a discount in exchange for the commitment)
  3. One-time purchase for a fixed period of time or a certain amount of words

Factors that Influence Pricing

  1. Included features and functionality
  2. Volume of users
  3. Volume of words
  4. Duration of contract or subscription
  5. Customization

Free Translation Tools

Free translation solutions typically limit the user to receiving raw machine translation and are often feature-limited. This means they often do not include most of the desirable features that are powerful enough to provide a true benefit to the user in terms of speed, translation quality, intelligence, functionality and security or confidentiality.

Core Benefits of Free Translation Software

  1. No investment required
  2. Quickly provides a very rough translation of text
  3. No commitment required

Popular Features*

  • Batch File Translation
  • Automatic File Formatting
  • Copy & Paste Translation
  • Translation Memory (TM)
  • Translation Editing
  • Spellcheck
  • Translation Collaboration
  • Edit Tracking
  • Voice-Over Translation
  • API Access
  • Security
  • Compliance
  • Confidentiality

*Original Source: 15 Best Professional Translation Software Features to Look for

Web-Based Translation Platforms

Web-based translation software, also commonly referred to as “online” or “cloud-based,” is accessible via web browser. The pros and cons of this type of translation application include the following.

Pros & Cons of Web-Based Translation Applications


  • Easy global team collaboration
  • Access translations & translate from anywhere at any time
  • Compatible with multiple operating systems, platforms & device types
  • Easy API access
  • Scalable
  • Real-time updates to new versions of the application
  • If the application has a web-first design, it’s likely to be more intuitive
  • Pricing structure typically allows for cost savings


  • Many solutions don’t have adequate security
  • Cannot access translations & translate without the internet
  • If a user has a slow internet connection, the application responds slowly
  • API’s usually require a developer on the client side to implement. Have to write code.
  • Cost increases as the number of users increases
  • Software sometimes changes very quickly and with little notice
  • Web-first applications may not ship proper Android and iOS apps
  • You typically pay for each user

Desktop Translation Platforms

Desktop translation software is installed on the user’s desktop computer and is only accessible locally on that device. The pros and cons of this type of translation application include the following.

Pros and Cons of Desktop Translation Software


  • Less prone to hacking and breaches
  • Responsiveness isn’t affected by internet speed
  • Oftentimes includes more features if they are a desktop-first application
  • Runs on your computer so you can work offline
  • Can save files and data to a local computer for ultimate security
  • Download new versions directly to your computer
  • Users can customize their user experience


  • Cannot access translations & translate from anywhere at any time
  • Device & operating system compatibility may be restricted
  • Uses a significant amount of computer memory
  • Initial installation & deployment may cause interruption to a user’s workday and/or require IT resources
  • Individual users must manage their own files and manually share when needed by others
  • Updates to new versions of the software are not real-time
  • Typically have high licensing fees per seat

More Learning Resources

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