change the default language on raspberry pi os

How to Change the Language on Raspberry Pi OS?

By default, the Raspberry Pi operating system is installed in English. If like me it’s not your native language, you can change it easily and use another one.
In this tutorial, I will show you different methods to do this.

To change the language on Raspberry Pi OS Desktop, go to the main menu, then Preferences and Raspberry Pi Configuration.
In the Localisation tab, click on “Set Locale” and select the language and country to use.

But that’s not the only way, and I will give you more details in the following. Keep reading to learn everything on this question.

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Change language from the Desktop

As I just explained, the first way to set the language on Raspberry Pi OS is to do this from the Desktop if you have it installed.

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Here is how to do this from the configuration tool:

  • Open the main menu (top left)
  • Go to Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration
  • Then click on the “Localisation” tab
  • Click on “Set Locale…”
  • In this window, you can configure:
    • The system language (ex: French)
    • The country: most languages have slight differences depending on the country (ex: France, Belgium, Canada …)
    • The character set: the set of characters that will be used, keep the default value if you are not sure
  • Once your selection completed, click “OK” to apply the changes

A reboot is required to apply the new language, it should be ok after it.
Note that not all the tools or even part of tools are translated in all languages.
I know that even when I set my system in French, there are still some sentences or entire tools in English.

But it should still be easier for you than in the default language.
By the way, you can also change your keyboard layout and Wi-Fi country in this configuration tool if you need.

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Change language from a terminal

Obviously, if you are not on Raspberry Pi OS Desktop, none of this is possible. But there is another tool that can help you: raspi-config.

Raspi-config is a very useful tool made for Raspberry Pi OS, to configure everything from the command line, including the system language.

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Raspi-config

Here is how to use it:

  • Start raspi-config with the command:
    sudo raspi-config
    The system is set to use a QWERTY US layout by default, so if you are using another keyboard, here is a picture that might help:

    Locate the key on this layout, and type the same on your keyboard (for example the “A” is the first letter on the second line, even if you use an AZERTY keyboard).
  • Go to “Localisation Options” (5)
  • Then, click on “Locale” (L1)
  • You can now select the locales you want to enable:
  • Scroll in the list with the arrow keys, and press “Space” to select one line.
    Once done, press “Enter” to submit your changes
  • The tool will now ask you to select the default locale for your system:

    Again, use the arrows key to select one, and press “Enter” to confirm
  • It will run a command, and display the raspi-config menu once again.
    You can now exist this tool (press “Esc”).

Your system is now configured to use the language you just chose.

Dpkg

As I told you, Raspi-config is a tool developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to help us to configure the system from the command line.
But basically, there are always Linux commands behind to do the same thing.

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To open directly the last window from the previous procedure, just type this command:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales

From there, you can select your language, then the default language, and it’s done.
It’s a bit faster, and can be useful if you change it after each new installation. Also, it will work on any Debian-like system, so not only Raspberry Pi OS (ex: Ubuntu, Twister OS, DietPi, etc.).

If you have any additional question or issue with these methods, feel free to leave a comment in the community, I can try to help you with this.

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Additional Resources

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