Image: Microsoft News

No matter how small or how big your business enterprise is, it is likely that you will eventually have to communicate with someone who speaks and writes in a language that is foreign to you. This is just a fact of life in a global economy.

To help with this situation, in April 2017, Microsoft released a brand-new version of its Outlook translator app. This app will translate any emailed text displayed in the Outlook inbox into another language. The translator is a free add-in for Outlook that can be downloaded and installed from the Microsoft Office Store. After that, converting an email into a language you can read is just a few clicks away.

This step-by-step guide shows you how to install the Translator for Outlook add-in and how it works with your emails.

SEE: Five translation and language learning apps to make international business easier

Install Translator for Outlook

The installation process is straightforward enough. For this example, I am using the version of Outlook 2016 that comes with a subscription to Office 365 Business Premium.

First, navigate to the Translator for Outlook page located in the Microsoft Office Store (Figure A). Click the Add button and the app will install. You will probably have to enter your Office 365 authentication login credentials.

Figure A

After entering your credentials, you should arrive at the Manage Add-ins screen in Office 365 (Figure B). Click the Install button and then OK to finish the procedure.

Figure B

Using the translator

As an example, I sent myself an email with a French proverb and its English translation (Figure C):

We say that time is a great teacher. It’s too bad that it kills all its students.

Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on. Le malheur est qui’il tue ses éléves.


Figure C

With the Translator for Outlook installed, you should see a new item in the Home tab of the Outlook Ribbon labeled Translate Message. Click that item and a dialog box will display, offering to translate the current email into your chosen language. My translator defaults to English, but you can change to one of dozens of languages (Figure D).

Figure D

One other thing to note–while the translator may be recently updated, it is far from perfect. While it did translate my message from French into English, it did not do it as accurately as I would have liked. The syntax was all wrong in my example.

Original French:

Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on. Le malheur est qui’il tue ses éléves.

English translation:

Time is a great teacher, said. The misfortune is that ‘ he kills his students.

So while we can say the Translator for Outlook is not bad for a free add-in, and will do in a pinch, it is probably not the best translation tool you can find. Do you have a better recommendation for us?

Also read…

Your thoughts

What language tool do you use for emails? Would you recommend it to your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below?