Language Configuration in CommCareHQ

You may build a CommCare application in English, another language, or a combination of languages. Here are some instructions on how to set default languages and switch between multiple languages. Below you will find an overview of the different elements of managing multiple languages.

What Should I Translate?

For multilingual applications make sure each of the following is translated:

Remember to set the default language of your application before creating your released build.  Drag and drop the languages and put the default language at the top.  

Language Configuration in CommCare

To build an application that supports multiple languages

  1. Navigate to the Applications tab. 

  2. Select your application, then click on Languages under Settings in the list on the left panel.  

  3. Under Language List add your language code. (i.e. hin for Hindi, en for English, etc.). The field will auto-populate. If your language does not exist, you can google the language name, and typically the first result on Wikipedia is the right language and has the 3-letter code you need to add. If your language still does not show up, create a new code and add it. This is not recommended, but is OK if the language comes up as "unrecognized." Don't do this if the language comes up as "invalid." 

  4. Click Save.

  5. Now all the module and form names will need to be updated in both languages. A dropdown menu will appear next to the "Languages" menu item so that you can switch between multiple languages.

Default to a Specific Language (Multiple Languages)

Follow these steps to set your app to a specific language if it supports multiple languages:

  1. Navigate again to the "Languages" part of the Application settings.

  2. Click on Languages again. Here, you will see the different languages associated with your application.

  3. If you see multiple languages, and want to change the default, you can drag the language preferred to the top. The box around the language indicates the default language. 

  4. Save changes. Note: to have the new default language show up in your mobile application, you will need to install the mobile application for the first time with the default language. Therefore if you're changing default languages, you will need to uninstall your app and then reinstall the application with the new default language in order to have the application reference the new default in HQ.

  5. Go the Release Manager and make a new build. The forms and modules in the application will default to the language that is listed at the top in the 'Supported Languages' box.

  6. You can also choose to not deploy a language (for example, if you're using english for development and testing, but not in the field), by un-checking the 'Deploy' checkbox.  This will save space on the phone. 

If CommCare HQ already has a list of UI strings translated for your language, all the menus will display in the preferred language. If not, you may contribute translations for UI strings in CommCare; instructions can be found here

Default to a Specific Language

Follow the below steps to change the default language of the application on the phone


To change the module/form/user interface language

  1. Login as any user

  2. Click on the three-dot button displayed at the top right corner of the phone (as shown in the image of 'Step 1' attached below).

  3. Choose "Change Language" from the menu that pops up (as shown in the image of 'Step 2' attached below).

  4. Select the desired language (as shown in the image of 'Step 3' attached below).


(Steps to select from the application's settings on the phone)

This should automatically switch the forms to the selected language, provided there are translations.

To change the language of the question within an open form

  1. Open a form

  2. Press the phone's "Settings Button"

  3. Choose "Change Language"

  4. Select the desired language

Web Apps

Once multiple languages have been added as described earlier in this document, users are able switch between them inside forms within a web app. This functionality is primarily designed to be used by multilingual users, who can adjust the language of the form based on who they are contacting and may do so multiple times throughout the day or the form.

To change form language in a web apps form:

  • Click the menu on the top right of the form entry UI. 

  • Under the ‘Languages’ section within the menu, a list of available languages are shown.

Note: Only the language of the form content is switched, the rest of the web app UI remains in the language configured in user settings.

Multiple languages and audio files

  1. If you have already created your app in one language, create a new language for your application (see above for instructions). 

  2. Go into your first form, and click "Edit" on the form questionnaire. 

  3. Just as you would add in audio files to an English app, the app should now feature two separate languages. Notice that the names of the two language files are the same.

  4. If you want to upload audio recordings in another language, you will need to change the file names of the new language. Do this and click save.

  5. When you go to multimedia reference, you will now notice that there are new audio files for you to upload. Upload your new audio files here. 

This change will only apply to this particular form. 

Local Language Support and Fonts

CommCare supports many languages and some require Unicode fonts to display. You may enable native language support in your application so users can enter text in the local language. This only works if your phone model supports the language preferred by your users. 

For the application to recognize local language and display it correctly, the text needs to be unicode-enabled/friendly. This is largely an issue for special scripts. See information below on software you can use to ensure your text is recognized in CommCare and displays correctly on the phone. 

Word processing programs like Word often allow people to install fonts that look like another language but they only work in that application (and often only if you have the font installed). If you want to use special characters in CommCare you have to use the unicode (text standard) equivalent of the characters.

Unicode Friendly

Non Unicode Friendly

Unicode Friendly

Non Unicode Friendly

Displays like on any computer regardless of whether

the font is installed or not. Better for sharing content.

Readable on mobile phone.

Displays like this if font is not installed on local computer.

Even if font is installed on computer, will display like on the mobile phone,

because you cannot install the same font on the phone.

Unicode Friendly Softwares

Google Input Tools

Go to and choose "Hindi" on the right panel before downloading- free download. This works very similar to Hindi Indic Input or Google Transliterate, in that you type phonetically, but it has a built-in dictionary. It guesses/suggests the word that you are typing and provides alternatives, similar to Google Translate.  It works offline and also supports a bunch of other Indian languages (Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, etc.)

Hindi Indic Input 2

Click here to download: Hindi Indic Input (also available in Dropbox\Dimagi\Software)

This is a plugin software for the Windows Language Bar, which allows you to type phonetically in Devanagari script in any open application. When you start typing, character suggestions pop-up to show you which pair of keyboard strokes will produce which Devanagari character.

The Language Bar allows you to easily switch between your standard language and Hindi Indic input (Devanagari script). You can configure a keyboard shortcut to switch between languages in the Language Bar preferences (default is Left Alt+Left Shift). Go to Control Panel->Region and Language->Keyboards and Languages to enable the language bar if you don't see it already

Baraha Software

Note: More useful to stick to google input tools as far as possible.

Baraha software supports Kannada, Konkani, Tulu, Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Assamese and Oriya languages. Runs on Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7. The download link is at the bottom of the homepage. You will have to register to download the free version of the software.

Converting Non-Unicode Text to Unicode Format

KrutiDev Converter

This is a handy tool for converting garbled kruti-dev fonts so that they're readable and usable on CommCareHQ

Preeti Unicode

This next tools is useful for converting garbled Preeti font (used for Nepali typing) so that they are readable and usable on CommCareHQ.

Smart Language Display in Forms

For projects spanning to multiple languages(more than 2 to be precise), app building might be inefficient at times with long forms displaying translations for all languages.

You can change the setting "Smart language display in forms" under languages list on app settings page. 

Once enabled:

1. When selected/current language is same as the default language, the default language is shown along with other languages.

2. When selected/current language is different from the default language, both default language and the selected language are shown.


Note: When adding new questions to the forms, translations for other languages will be stored same as the default language keeping the behaviour you would have without this setting enabled.