Whether you are a researcher who wants to delve deeper into a subject or work with foreigners, you may want to translate a PDF into another language.
While translating text files is pretty straightforward, PDFs can get a bit more complicated. This is especially true if you want to translate a scanned PDF or if you want to translate on a mobile phone. Here we discuss all the different ways to translate a PDF.
How to translate a PDF file into any language
Let’s take a look at the different ways to translate a PDF file to any other language, starting with Google Translate.
1. Use Google Translate
Google Translate is one of the best online translators. Here’s how to translate a PDF using Google Translate.
- Go to the Google Translate website and click on Documents.
- Choose the current language of the file and the one in which you want to translate the file. If you are unsure of the current language, you can select the Detect the language option.
- Click on Documents so what Browse your computer.
- Upload the PDF file you want to translate and click Translate.
- Once Google has translated your file, you will see a button to download the translated PDF file.
As expected, the translation results are excellent, with multiple languages supported. The layout is also kept for the most part.
Google Translate document translation is not available on mobile devices. Likewise, it does not support PDF files over 300 pages or 10MB file size. Besides PDF, Google Translate supports .docx, .pptx, .xlsx.
2. Use Google Drive and Docs
If the PDF you want to translate is already on Google Drive, you can translate it directly from there.
- To do this, open the Google Drive website and find the file you want to translate.
- Right-click on it, hover over Open withand choose Google Docs.
- You will be redirected to Google Docs, where the PDF will be converted to text.
- Then just click Tools and select Translate the document.
- Docs will ask you to enter the name of the translated file and the language you want the field to be translated into. After entering them, choose Translate.
- A new document will open with the translated file.
This method works well if you want to edit the PDF before/after translation. Using this method, you can translate scanned PDFs (more on this below), but for PDFs with complex layouts, the conversion may cause formatting issues.
3. Aspose Free Online Translation
Aspose offers dozens of free online tools on its site. One of them is a online document translator. Using it, you can translate Word and PDF documents online. To do this, follow these steps.
- Go to the Aspose translation tool website.
- Select the languages, upload the file and select Translate.
- Wait for the translation to complete and download the translated PDF. You can also upload it directly to Google Drive/Dropbox or send it by email.
Language options are a bit limited, but most major languages are included. Since it limits the file size to 1MB, Aspose Online Translator only works well for small files.
How to translate a PDF on a mobile phone
Google Translate does not support documents on mobile phones. So here’s how to translate PDFs on mobile.
1. Use DocTranslator
DocTranslator is also powered by Google Translate and has almost the same limitations and advantages. But, unlike Google Translate, you can use DocTranslator on mobile devices to translate PDFs.
- Go to the DocTranslator website > scroll down the page and click on Translate now.
- Download the file and choose the original language and the translation language.
- Click on Translate so what To download.
The web tool supports over 100 languages and multiple file formats.
2. Using File Translator: PDF Translator App (Android)
For those who often need to translate PDFs, it might be worth installing the File Translator: PDF Translator mobile app. The app is free, but only available on Android.
- To translate PDFs on your Android device using this app, open it and select file translator.
- Click on the plus (+) icon and select the PDF you want to translate.
- Choose the languages you want to translate into and click Translate.
- The tool translates the content of the downloaded PDF, which you can download by clicking on the Down arrow.
Although the tool supports multiple languages, the PDF layout is distorted during translation. The app has a paid version with unlimited translations, an ad-free experience, and support for more languages.
To download: File Translator: PDF Translator for android (Free and paid version available)
Can you translate a scanned PDF for free?
All of these methods work fine with native/regular PDFs. But translating scanned PDFs gets a little trickier. Although you can convert and translate the scanned PDF using the Google Drive method, there may be recognition and layout issues.
However, for best results, it is advisable to first extract the text from the scanned PDF using an OCR. Let’s take a look at the process.
There are various OCR software to extract text from PDF files. But Microsoft OneNote’s OCR feature is excellent and free.
- To extract the text using OneNote, open it, go to the Insert tab and select Printing files.
- Once the document is added, right click on it and select Copy the text of this page from the printout.
- Paste the copied text into a new section.
- If OneNote pastes an image instead of text, right-click the image again and choose Copy text from image.
- Now press CTRL+V to paste the text.
Although Microsoft OneNote is an amazing tool and can even convert handwritten notes to text, sometimes it can mess up the layout. Besides OneNote, you can use OCR conversion online to get text from scanned PDFs.
Step 2: Translate the Word document
Once you have the text extracted, visit the DocTranslator website. Repeat the steps above to translate your file. You can do this on both mobile and desktop. Similarly, you can upload the Word document to your Google Drive, open it in Google Docs, and then translate it using the method shown above.
Translate PDF to any language like a pro
In a world as interconnected as today, it is very likely that you will come across documents in foreign languages. But thanks to OCR and translation technologies, converting PDFs to any other language is a piece of cake.
However, you may experience formatting or OCR recognition issues, depending on your document. Almost all the methods used above are powered by Google Translate which is a great tool. However, depending on your situation, you might want to try an alternative.