Web browsers have had tools that let you translate websites for years. But they typically rely on cloud-based translation services like Google Translate or Microsoft’s Bing Translator.

The latest version of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser does things differently. Firefox 118 brings support for Fullpage Translation, which can translate websites entirely in your browser. In other words, everything happens locally on your computer without any data sent to Microsoft, Google, or other companies.

Here’s how it works. Firefox will notice when you visit a website in a supported language that’s different from your default language, and a translate icon will show up in the address bar.

Tap that icon and you’ll see a pop-up window that asks what languages you’d like to translate from and to. If the browser doesn’t automatically detect the language of the website you’re visiting, you can set these manually.

Then click the “Translate” button, and a moment later the text on the page should be visible in your target language. If you’d prefer to go back to the original language, just tap the translate icon again and choose the option that says “show original.”

You can also tap the settings icon in the translation menu and choose to “always translate” or “never translate” a specific language so that you won’t have to manually invoke the translation every time you visit sites in that language.

Now for the bad news: Firefox Fullpage Translation only supports 9 languages so far:

  • Bulgarian
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

So while the feature works well with German, French, and Spanish sites I often visit, like WinFuture.de, MiniMachines.net, and AndroidPC.es, the Firefox’s new built-in translation is no use at all for sites in Chinese, Japanese, or Russian.

Mozilla notes that there are also some other limitations. For example, it may not be able to handle websites with mixed language content very well. It cannot translate part of a web page while leaving the rest in its original language. And there’s no support for translating text from images or videos.

Other changes in Firefox 118 include support for Video Effects and background Blur when using Google Meet in Firefox (these features have actually been backported to work with Firefox 115 and later), and several bug fixes and security updates. And Firefox 118 for Android now supports printing page content from the browser or share menu.

Firefox 118 release notes

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  1. Because it supports languages from highly industrialized countries. Later, countries that don’t bring such profits are added. FF is one of the best browsers I’ve ever used. I hope they’ll become more open for OpenSource 😉

  2. I hope they add more supported languages outside of Europe in the future. Outside of English, I visit 0 sites in those languages.

    Do they even have plans to support more languages?

    1. I’m sure they do when the resources become available. This is one of the things I hope the recent AI/LLM craze might bring. The headline language generation models are nearly useless, but it might bring some major advantages with offline translation. I’ve used previous open-source translation systems before, and the quality was not very good. A system called Appertium was one of the ones that gathered more interest, but the results effectively took each word and put it through a bilingual dictionary with a small amount of reordering for grammar. Any missing word, and there were many, was printed to the result untranslated. If we can get the quality of the proprietary cloud-based models to run locally, we could see some major advantages in private translation even if Google’s online ones get even better.

  3. “Now for the bad news: Firefox Fullpage Translation only supports 9 languages so far”

    This is largely by design, Firefox Translation was financed by the European Union (grant agreement no. 825303: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/825303), so it supports the most “important” European languages, including some less relevant ones like Bulgarian (the country is well on its way towards extinction, there might be around 10 millions speakers at best).

  4. Which is to say, they’ve just baked the Firefox Translations extension into the browser. Which I think is great, the extension really is genuinely useful and whatever encourages people to stop feeding the botnet helps.
    And, realistically, this was probably the easiest way they were going to get anyone to use it, since they only had word of mouth and opportunities where it’s appropriate to talk about translation extensions are few and far between.

    Although because it’s cool to complain about Firefox I’m sure there will be many people who will whine that this is a pointless addition, they should have bought back Xul and focus on customization and site compatibility instead, and oh no it’s so annoying that now I’m seeing offers to translate this page in this new bad thing instead of in my google translate extension, did you see all those about:config options they deleted that didn’t do anything anymore, why do I have to go into about:config to turn the translations off so I can use google translate undisturbed, hey remember that they’re totally going to depreciate userchrome.css and compact mode entirely, eventually, not that this matters to me since I use brave like a cool kid, hey did you see that graph of user decline verses the CEO’s salary well here it is yet again! They’re losing a million users a month, get off this sinking ship now before something really bad happens and you…well you won’t have to change much more than getting a new browser anyway.

    I’m not saying those aren’t problems or genuine concerns but they don’t make what’s fundamentally a positive change for once a bad change. Can I just be happy about something for once?