Converting Word to German

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 7, 2016)


Philip's version of Word came with both French and Spanish languages available, by default. However, he needs to spellcheck and grammar check his documents using German. (All of his writing is done in German.) Philip wonders if there is a low-cost way he can uninstall the French and Spanish tools and, instead, add German tools.

The answer to this question may not be as simple as you would hope. Language support (and how you activate different languages) is one of those areas where Microsoft is continually making changes. Thus, what you need to do depends on the version of Word (Office, actually) you are using.

If you have Office 2007, Office 2010, or one of the rare Office 2013 "MSI" installations, and if you want to completely remove the language support, you can use the "Customize" install option to select which languages you want to have installed. In Windows, perform these general steps:

  1. Display the Control Panel.
  2. Click the Uninstall a Program link. (You aren't really uninstalling anything, but this link quickly gets you to the proper place.)
  3. In the list of installed programs, locate and right-click on the Office installation you have. Windows displays a Context menu.
  4. Choose Change from the Context menu. Windows starts the Office installation program, which then displays a series of options you can perform.
  5. Choose the Add or Remove Features radio button. (It is typically selected by default. If there is no such option, then your version of Office doesn't support these steps.)
  6. Click Continue. The installation program displays a hierarchical list of what is installed in your version of Office.
  7. Click on Office Shared Features (to expand it) and then on Proofing Tools (to expand it).

At this point you can see which languages are natively available to your version of Office. You can disable or enable any of them you'd like. Once you do that, simply finish out the installation program, and your changes are complete.

It is possible that when you look at the languages installed on your system, you won't see the one you want. (For instance, you may not see German as an option.) If that is the case, you'll need to purchase what Microsoft calls a "language pack." You'll also need to follow this route if you are using a non-MSI version of Office 2013, which includes most Office 2013 users. You install the language pack and then configure it within Office so it works correctly. If you are using Office 2013 you can find language packs here:

You'll need to purchase, download, and install the language pack you want. (Most language packs, as of this writing, cost about $25.) You can find out more information about this entire process here:

Even though the above page on Microsoft's support site seems to apply to Office 2010, the language packs for that version of Office are apparently no longer available. (In other words, you may be out of luck if you are using Office 2010.)

There is one other thing you can try if you are using Office 2010 and Office 2007—downloading what is called a "language interface pack." This doesn't only provide the language proofing tools, but also can change the language for Office's ribbon and commands. Here's the place you want to start for this option:

Note that not all languages are available through this page. For instance, German is NOT available using this page. If you want a language not on the page, you are apparently out of luck again. (Why Microsoft includes some languages here and not others is a mystery.)

If you are using Office 2016 then you need to install what is called a "language accessory pack." These are free, which is a change from earlier versions of Office. You can find complete information on how to install other languages here:

Another option for Office 2016 users is to install language support from your Microsoft MyAccount page. Log into your Microsoft account, click Install, click Language, and then follow the instructions to download the language of your choice.

Is your head swimming yet? If so, that's understandable—Microsoft doesn't make language support terribly easy or intuitive, and it isn't anywhere near consistent.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (2359) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Inserting Multiple Drawing Objects

If you need to add more than one particular drawing object to your document, you can do it most easily by "tearing off" ...

Discover More

Controlling Date Formats in a Mail Merge

One of the data sources that Word allows you to use for your mail merges is an Excel worksheet. You may get unexpected ...

Discover More

Word Marks Mixed Case Acronyms as Incorrect

Many acronyms (such as DoD) are considered correct when they used mixed uppercase and lowercase. Word may not seem them ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Changing the Language Setting for All Document Text

Word supports a number of different languages for documents you create. If you need to routinely change the language used ...

Discover More

Specifying a Language for Text

Need to format a paragraph (or some selected text) so that it is a language other than English? You can do so easily by ...

Discover More

Keyboard Changes to Unwanted Foreign Language

There you are typing along, minding your own business, when wham! You end up in an entirely different language and you ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 7?

2016-05-09 11:19:11

Jim Swindle

Alfred J. Lemire - If you have both French and English spell-check installed, Word should be able to select the language automatically. It may do it partly based on which keyboard layout you're using. I don't have Word for Mac, but in Word 2013 for Windows you'd go to Review, Language, Proofing Language and select "Detect language automatically." If Word guesses wrong, select all text. Then go to that same location and choose "Mark selected text as English" (or French).
Incidentally, choosing the keyboard layout for French or for English is a function of the operating system, not of Word. Google or Bing can tell you how to do that.

2016-05-07 23:16:02

Alfred J. Lemire

I download and sometimes write files in French. It is annoying to have English-based Word try to change French spellings or to present good French words as misspelled, with wavy underlines. They make French files hard to read.

I wish I could specify that a file is a French file and avoid English-based corrections, e.g., without going through all the steps you present.

Also, I have a Mac. I found a way to save files in Word 2004’s .doc format, to keep tighter interlinear spacing. Word 2008 introduced the horrid .docx, with looser spacing. I have Word 2011, but still save everything in .doc. docx is lousy for personal correspondence or file storage.

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.


FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.