Google’s language translation service available at translate.google.com is one of the most commonly used translation services on the web, and because it is now integrated in Google’s web browser Chrome, its usage has increased further. I personally use Google Translate a lot, for day to day translation while reading books, documents etc and can vouch for it, it is certainly one of the best ones in the industry.
The frustrating part is that while I’m reading a book or document, watching a movie and need a quick translator, I have to open the web browser, visit the Google Translator URL, and then copy paste or type in. Usually this is not a problem, but can become annoying if you have to do this repeatedly.
Lingoo is a small freeware app for Mac OS X that brings the Google Translate service to your desktop. It sits in your status bar as a small book shaped icon, and you can bring up its interface by a global shortcut (which is Cmd + Option + L by default).
The above screen shows Lingoo in a more detailed translation mode. Lingoo has 3 modes or views, suitable for different purposes.
- Single Line – If all you have to translate is a single word or a phrase, this is the most suitable view. Very small and minimalistic.
- Multi-line – For a small paragraph or multiple lines, but quick translation, use this view.
- Double Pane – For bigger edits, like complete pages or documents, or if you’d like to see the original text and translated text simultaneously, use this view. Screen already included above.
In each of these views, there is a small tick mark on the bottom left corner. Having this ticked is equivalent to the ‘Detect language’ option from Google Translate, and it works pretty well, in my case, it has never wrong guess a language. In the rare case you do need to manually specify the language of your source text, you can uncheck this tick box and select the language from the drop down list. Right next to it is the drop down list for target language. Default is set to English.
Another very useful feature is a keyboard shortcut for ‘Show with clipboard data’. When you use this shortcut (by default Cmd + Option + C) Lingoo is opened and the clipboard contents are pasted to it. You can take this a level further by enabling auto-translate when called from clipboard from the preferences. That way, with one keyboard combination, you can achieve your result.