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How to Use the Apple Translate App on iPhone

iOS Apple Translate App Icon

Apple’s Translate app, introduced in iOS 14, allows iPhone users to quickly translate between languages using text or voice input. With speech output, support for a dozen languages, and a comprehensive built-in dictionary, it’s an essential tool for travelers. Here’s how to use it.

First, locate the “Translate” app. From the Home screen, swipe downward with one finger on the middle of your screen to open “Spotlight.” Type “translate” into the search bar that appears, then tap the “Apple Translate” icon.

If you don’t see the app in your results, you’ll need to update your phone to iOS 14 or later first.

RELATED: How to Find an App on Your iPhone or iPad Fast

Open Spotlight and type "Translate" then tap the icon.

When Translate opens, you’ll see a simple interface with mostly white elements.

Apple Translate basic input screen on iPhone

To translate something, first make sure you’re in Translate mode by tapping the “Translate” button at the bottom of the screen.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, tap the "Translate" button to swtich to translate mode.

Next, you’ll need to choose the language pair using the two buttons at the top of the screen.

The button on the left sets the language that you’d like to translate from (the source language), and the button on the right sets the language you’d like to translate to (the destination language).

The language selection buttons in Apple Translate on iPhone.

When you tap the source language button, a list of languages will pop up. Select the language you’d like, then tap “Done.” Repeat this action with the destination language button.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, select a language from the list, then tap "Done."

After that, it’s time to enter the phrase you’d like to translate. If you’d like to type it with an on-screen keyboard, tap the “Enter Text” area on the main Translate screen.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, tap the "Enter text" area to input text to translate.

When the screen changes, type what you’d like to translate using the on-screen keyboard, then tap “Go.”

In Apple Translate on iPhone, enter the text you'd like to translate using the on-screen keyboard, then tap "go."

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak the phrase that needs translating, tap the “Microphone” icon on the main Translate screen.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, tap the microphone button to speak a phrase for translation.

When the screen changes, say the phrase you’d like to translate out loud. As you speak, Translate will recognize the words and write them out on the screen.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, speak the words you'd like to translate.

When you’re done, you’ll see the resulting translation on the main screen, just below the phrase you spoke or entered.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, you'll see the resulting translation just below the text you entered.

Next, pay attention to the toolbar just below the translation results.

Apple Translate toolbar buttons on iPhone

If you press the favorite button (which looks like a star), you can add the translation to your Favorites list. You can quickly access it later by pressing the “Favorites” button at the bottom of the screen.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, tap the "Favorites" button.

If you press the “Dictionary” button (which looks like a book) in the toolbar, the screen will to switch to Dictionary mode. In this mode, you can tap each individual word in a translation to see what it means. The dictionary can also help you explore possible alternative definitions for the selected word.

In Dictionary mode of Apple Translate on iPhone, you can tap on words to see their definitions.

And finally, if you press the play button (a triangle in a circle) in the toolbar, you can hear the translation result spoken aloud by a computer synthesized voice.

In Apple Translate on iPhone, press the play button to hear the translated phrase spoken out loud.

This comes in handy if you need to play back a translation to a local resident while you’re in a foreign land. Have fun!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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