How to Translate a Photo on Google Translate

Have you ever been traveling somewhere with a foreign language and you just couldn't understand the signs, menus...or really anything around you! Most people know about Google translate to translate spoken words or even type in words to translate them into your native language. But did you know you can take a picture of anything with writing on it and Google will translate that too?! It's incredible. It has helped me with living abroad SO much. Here's a step by step guide:


Step 1: Open Google Translate

Easy. Make sure you downloaded the app and open it up on your device!


Step 2: Set the language

Set the languages- both what language you are translating from, and which language you want to translate into. If you are unsure of what language you have a photo of, they even have an awesome "detect language" button so it will try to detect what language it is and translate it for you!


Step 3: Click on camera

In the bottom left corner of the translation box, you'll see a camera icon. Click on it to access this feature!


Step 4: Choose what to translate

You have 3 choices here:

  1. Instant: Instantly hold it up to a sign or menu with writing and have it translated in real time

  2. Scan: take a photo of something and have it scan and translate within a few seconds

  3. Import: import a photo you have previously taken (or screen shotted) and have it translated

I personally only ever use option 2 & 3 because for some reason option 1 just isn't as accurate and is very sensitive. If you move slightly it will delete the translation.


Step 5: Highlight what to translate

This is if you chose option 2 or 3! It will automatically detect the foreign language and highlight it for you. If it's correct, go ahead and select "Select All" & move on to step 6. If it's not correct, or you only want to translate one part of the picture, you can use your finger to highlight what you want translated. I find this really helpful when translating a menu, because it will automatically translate the entire menu into one jumbled paragraph and you won't be able to see which thing is what. So I like translating the dishes one or two at a time so I can see which dish I want!


Step 6: Click on the translation

The final step is to click on the blue arrow in the upper right corner to see the translation! And you're done!


BONUS: Offline translations

If you want to translate anything offline (whether it's a picture or not!) you can click on the button right below the camera on the main screen that says "Translate even when you're offline by downloading an offline translation file." Then, choose the language you want to download. Once you've finished downloading, you can translate anything in that language if you don't have service!

Watch my TikTok to see a video of the step by step!

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