Written by: Chris Christensen

Categories: Reviews

MonolingualHave you heard the old joke?

When a person speaks two languages we call them bilingual, when they only speak one language what do you call them? American.

Now that joke may not apply to you but odds are that you don’t speak as many languages as your Macintosh. And if you don’t happen to speak Azerbaijani, Breton, Croatian, Esperanto and/or Tongan then those languages are taking up space on your hard drive. Even if you remember Spanish, French, or German from high school you may not ever plan to look at an application with the user interface set to that language. If you could delete those language files then you would save disk space. How much disk space you will save will depend on how many applications you have installed and how many of those applications come with a multilingual interface. On my computer I saved 2Gb of storage space. A friend saved 4Gb by deleting those files.

One tool that makes it easy to delete the unneeded bulk of both language files (as well as binaries compiled for a processor chip that you computer does not have) is the free application Monolingual. Select what you want to keep and what you want to delete and then press a button and what. Of course, before you do something like this a backup is always recommended.

Editors note: I will second Chris’ recommendation for having a good full backup prior to running Monolingual. You may remember a time when I recommended Monolingual on the Maccast prior to them adding Universal support. Needless to say some Intel Mac owners were not too happy. The application is Universal now, but still caution is always smart when modifying your system at this low a level. I personally avoid the need to use a tool like Monolingual by doing a custom install and only loading the desired dialect when I re-install OS X (which I will do when Leopard is released).

There are 9 comments on Monolingual:

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  1. dbtodd | Mar 29 2007 - 03:55

    The Mac maintainence program Macaroni handles this as well. Saved me a ton of space and checks my system once a month for new languages installed by new apps. 

  2. Tim Dearborn | Mar 29 2007 - 09:23

    Below is a script which you can run in the terminal which will remove all languages except English (US). I have used this on several machines without problems, including my main laptop and production servers. However, use at your own risk and of course, have a backup. (I will post back as to whether all the slashes and characters are displayed correctly in the comment.

    sudo find / \( -name *.lproj -and \! \( -name English.lproj -or -name en.lproj -or -name en_US.lproj \) \) -exec rm -rf \{\} \;

  3. Tim Dearborn | Mar 29 2007 - 09:41

    The above code was posted correctly. Please note that the command is a single line. Also note that when the code runs, it will display each localization file which it is deleting, along with the message “No such file or directory”. This is normal.

  4. BruceG | Mar 29 2007 - 10:10

    Last month I downloaded and ran Monolingual on my G4 Powerbook, running OS 10.4.8 at the time, with no trouble.

    I decided to remove the more exotic/esoteric languages such as mentioned in Chris’s article, but retained the primary romance languages: French, Italian and Spanish, plus German, since I work with a foreign affairs agency that provides web-based and print-based translations of these languages on U.S. government issues.

    I also kept basic Chinese. Don’t know why, ‘cept it’s probably the most widely used on earth next to English. Who knows, maybe I’ll I’ll take a language course in the near future.

    Although I did not achieve the amount of additional storage space as mentioned, I did come in slightly under a gig.

  5. chris2x | Mar 29 2007 - 11:44

    One word of clarification, removing a language does not mean you can’t see documents in that language or even type in that language (that is controlled by the input menu). I have studied a few languages (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, Turkish, Russian and Swahili) but I still don’t want to use an application with the buttons, menus and prompts in that language. In that case I can still delete them.

  6. jim ormiston | Mar 29 2007 - 11:12

    The major problem with monolingual is this- having installed and used monolingual to remove the unwanted languages I ran into a big problem when I went to install the last security update. No matter how many times I tried to install the security update, it just would not install! It turned out that the missing languages were requiered for this install to work. After re-installing the languages, and repairing permissions, it finally installed correctly, the security update. Sometimes it`s just wrong to fiddle around with things in your system as it can cause a great deal of frustration for you,
    regards, Jim.
    ps. enjoying the shows.

  7. Olly | Mar 30 2007 - 11:51

    One thing to bear in mind with the ability to remove unneeded architecture is that it’ll change the checksum on the app which can mess up some online software, particularly games with all their cheat protection. World of Warcraft is a notable example, and after accidentally running it on that I had to download a couple of gigs of patches and reinstall to get it working again.

  8. David | Feb 23 2009 - 04:59

    I never go that idea. Al most every program we install has files for supporting other languages taking up our disk space. Thank you for referring the program to delete those files.

  9. Matt | Apr 02 2009 - 03:58

    That should be a way to clean up hard drive of files that you don’t need. But I would nt mess with those files instead get the things i don’t need onto some external hard drive or upgrade the system. Storage is not too expensive these days.