Work smarter, not harder: Scripts to enhance translator productivity

*Note: The instructions found in this post should work on the majority of Windows computers. Apple users, let us know if you come up with your own way of making this work!

Recently, my IT guy [husband] set me up with a great new tool. It has made my life as a translator so much more effective that it would be a crime not to share it with you all. I can see tips like this helping with productivity on so many levels and I’d love to hear what other hacks you all can come up with.

Here’s the trick: we set up a “script” to run on my computer so that whenever I hit CTRL+SHIFT+c on my keyboard, it automatically opens a new tab on my browser and performs a Google search for the text I’ve highlighted. I no longer need to copy some text, switch programs, open a new tab in Chrome, and then paste and search; I simply use my mouse to highlight the text I want to research and hit CTRL+SHIFT+c on my keyboard. I’ve used this about a million times since I started running the script a few months ago; here are just a few instances in which the tool has been extremely handy:

  • Reading through a source text in MS Word and came across a word I didn’t recognize
  • Wanted to make sure a phrase in my translation in Trados was the proper way to say something in target language
  • While editing a colleague’s work, wasn’t sure if the term they were using was the proper collocation
  • Reviewing my own translation, I came upon a name that I wasn’t sure was spelled correctly

You can imagine how often these situations arise in our daily work as translators, editors, transcribers, copywriters… you name it. Here’s how to implement the script on your device; be sure to let us know how it works and if you come up with any hacks of your own!

1. Download a scripting program (I used AutoHotkey)

2. Create your script (these instructions can also be found by opening the AutoHotkey program on your computer and clicking “create a script file”):

Right click on your desktop and select “New” > ”AutoHotkey Script”

Name the script (ending with .ahk extension)

Locate the file on your desktop and right click it

Select “Open with” > “Notepad”

3. Write your script: To write the script itself, just paste the following text into Notepad and hit save.



Send, ^c

Sleep 50




4. Run your script: To begin executing the program, just double click the desktop icon to run the script. You might not notice any change on screen, which is normal. Test that your script is working by highlighting text in any application and clicking CTRL+SHIFT+c simultaneously on your keyboard. If this operation opens your browser and does a Google search for the highlighted text, you’re all set!

5. Troubleshooting: If you find that your search script isn’t working, make sure you’ve set the script to run on startup (so that each time your computer restarts, the script runs automatically and you don’t have to remember to click on it). To do this, click Windows+r on your keyboard to open the Run dialogue box. Type “shell:startup” into the field and hit OK. This will open your computer’s Startup folder, which contains files, folders, and programs that are set to open or run automatically when you start your device. Just copy the file containing your beautiful new .ahk script from your desktop into this folder and you will no longer have to worry about it.

Another script I came up with to enhance productivity inserts a specific line of text that I use very frequently (“[Translator’s Note: Handwritten text is indicated in italics.]”) with just two clicks of my keyboard! What other uses can you come up with for scripts and macros like these?

For more ideas and help with AutoHotkey, check out their user forum here. A tutorial on the basics of AutoHotkey can also be found here. You’ll find that tools like AutoHotkey are a very simple form of computer programming, and similar to the languages that we work with as translators, computer languages have syntax, rules, and exceptions that can actually be fun and useful to learn about. Happy scripting!

Image source: Pixabay

So You Want to be a Freelance Translator (or Interpreter): Tech and Tools

This post is the fifth and final (first post, second post, third post, and fourth post) in a series of posts written in response to questions we at The Savvy Newcomer have received. Sometimes these questions have come from people within the translation world, but also from bilingual friends and family who are interested in translation and interpreting (T&I). Our hope is that this series will serve as a guide for people who are considering a career in T&I and want to know where to start.


So You Want to be a Freelance Translator (or Interpreter): Tech and Tools

When an artist sits down to begin a new project, he collects his paints and paintbrushes, selects the right canvas, sets up an easel, and sits down at a chair that’s just the right height. He also chooses the right setting to work in. What about translators and interpreters? What tools do we need to be prepared for the task at hand?


If you’ve started researching technology for translators, you might think that the only software a language professional uses is a CAT, or “computer-assisted translation,” tool. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! While a CAT tool is an advisable purchase and a time-saver in the long run, a number of other software tools exist that can be useful and beneficial to translators and interpreters. However, we’ll start with translation-specific software and work our way to other types of software you may not think to consider when equipping yourself as a translator or interpreter. The links included for each category are a non-exhaustive list—I’ve selected a few ideas to suggest based on what I have used myself and options that my colleagues and other Savvy team members have used.

Hardware: First things first! You need a device or devices you can trust. I personally prefer my ultrabook laptop over a desktop computer for quick, quality performance and mobility—be sure to select a machine with a strong processor and plenty of ram to handle many applications at a time and still operate quickly (8 or 16 GB is ideal). Other translators may use desktops and store their files securely in cloud-based storage so they can access them anywhere (say, from a tablet while on the road). Multiple monitors are also a good idea for translators, since much of our work involves comparing two documents (the source and target) or doing research in a web browser while working in a CAT tool. Having additional monitors helps reduce eye strain and the time it takes to open and close documents repeatedly, among a host of other benefits.

CAT Tools: A variety of vendors sell CAT tools from open-source to thousand-dollar project management versions, but the three I see most often are SDL Trados, MemoQ, and Wordfast. It’s important for beginner translators to be aware that a CAT tool is different from machine translation—CAT software helps you translate more efficiently and consistently by offering suggestions based on previously translated text from a “translation memory”. It can also aid your work by breaking down large chunks of text into more manageable pieces or sentences called “segments”. The makers of the various CAT tools available on the market will also offer terminology and localization tools, either paired with their main products or at an additional price.

Editing or QA Software: Editing software isn’t only for copyeditors and reviewers—it’s great for helping to check your own translation work as well. PerfectIt and Xbench are two favorites for proofreading and QA.

Invoicing: Some translators use a basic Excel spreadsheet to track projects and invoices, but you can also consider paying for an invoicing tool like QuickBooks, Translation Office 3000, or Xero to record your financial information, send invoices, and run reports.

Speech-to-text: Translators often find it useful to use speech-to-text or text-to-speech in order to dictate translations or proofread their own writing. Free versions of text-to-speech tools exist on most word processors, and Dragon Naturally Speaking is a popular speech recognition software that can help save time during translation.

OCR Software/PDF Editor: Clients will sometimes provide files in flat PDF format, which can make it challenging to estimate a word count or use the source file in a CAT tool. Software tools like Adobe Acrobat and ABBYY FineReader can help translators edit PDFs or run optical character recognition (OCR) in the course of their work.

Security: In order to comply with independent contractor agreements and government regulations, translators and editors should secure their files against viruses, hackers, and hardware problems. See this post on antivirus software for some helpful ideas. As for a backup solution to restore your data in the event of loss, options include cloud storage services, cloud backup software, and network attached storage (NAS) systems. Last but not least, don’t forget about encryption software.

Other Tools

Office supplies: Don’t worry about going to Staples and buying the latest standing desk right away, but make sure that you are comfortable in your office environment. You may not be concerned about health problems now, but if you plan to make a full-time job of freelance translation, you’ll want to invest in equipment that’s good for your health at some point! An ergonomic computer mouse and keyboard is a great addition to your office repertoire, and even if you aren’t ready to purchase an adjustable desk or exercise ball chair, you should be sure to elevate your computer screen(s) so that you won’t have to crane your neck to view it. Some companies, like Contour Design, for instance, will even offer a free trial so you can see if their products are right for you.

Then there is the matter of desk organization preferences. If your desk is too cluttered, invest in a file organizer. If you edit best by reading printed materials, buy a printer and some paper so you can make hard copies when reviewing documents. If you expect to be translating a lot of official documents that need to be notarized and mailed to clients, get yourself some stamps and envelopes. The bottom line is to purchase what you think you’ll need. Many office expenses are tax-deductible, so don’t stress over buying these small-ticket items for your office that make your work life easier or more efficient.

Print resources: Dictionaries may seem a thing of the past to anyone outside our industry, but they can be of great value for specialized translators in certain language pairs. You don’t need to have a library-sized collection when you’re just getting started, but keep an eye out for online sales or conference bookshops that offer the types of print resources you may want to reference depending on your specialty area and language.


So you want to be a translator or interpreter…what do you think? Are you ready to take the plunge? We hope this blog series has helped to answer some of your questions about getting started and put you on the path to a successful career in translation and interpreting. Here are a few more ideas of steps to take as you get started:

  • Join ATA and get involved by attending the annual conference, joining divisions, etc.
  • Join your local professional association and attend their events
  • Take a course or courses (see GALA’s Education and Training Directory, one of the courses offered in the ATA Member-to-Member Program list, etc.)
  • Read blogs or books by translators and interpreters (The Savvy Newcomer is a great start!)

As you take your first steps into translation and interpreting, keep in touch with us at The Savvy Newcomer. We would love to hear your advice for newbies to this profession.

Image source: Pixabay

Computer-Assisted Translation Tools: A Digest

I recently asked the community of translators on ATA’s Business Practices listserv to weigh in on the pros and cons of the Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools they use. The question sparked a well-attended discussion, and brought helpful insight on using CAT tools in translation. I have compiled the conversation’s highlights here for the benefit of all.


Translators first adopted CAT tools—previously known as Translation Memory tools—as a way to efficiently catalog and retrieve their translations of technical words and phrases. These tools helped maintain consistency within a single document or across documents on a specific subject matter. They also saved the translator time by storing translations and supplying them on demand.

Today, CAT tools retain this fundamental memory function, and can further boost translator productivity and quality with the following features:

  • Autosuggest supplies recurring words and phrases and obviates typing them out each time they appear. One translator commented that, in some cases, she translates faster with autosuggest-assisted typing than by dictation using Dragon® software.
  • Quality assurance functions check the translation for omissions and numeral inconsistencies, and proof it using target language standards.
  • Side-by-side alignment of segments from the source and target texts helps maintain workflow by keeping the translator from getting lost while working between two documents.

Use with Caution

Several listserv members warned against allowing the tool to manipulate the translation through imperfect matches and suggestions. CAT tools are not translators, but tools that assist translation. The user should therefore always control the tool, and is responsible for reviewing the tool’s output with an expert’s eye. Furthermore, a tool’s original settings may not be the best; the user must be familiar with the software and be able to manipulate it to benefit his or her unique projects.


Most commentators agreed that CAT tools are most useful across technical documents in which subject-matter-specific terms must be consistent, and within documents with frequent repetitions. Creative works such as books or marketing copy benefit less from the tools’ memory function, since artistic expression is less repetitive and restricted than technical language. Nevertheless, a translator may leverage other functions, such as quality assurance checks and assisted typing, to efficiently process artistic translations. Again, the translator is ultimately responsible for the finished product. The skilled use of a CAT tool can help to create a better translation in a shorter amount of time, whereas an inept CAT tool user will waste time and produce substandard work.

Tool Choices

A few key considerations influence CAT tool choice. Several translators who responded to my question pointed out that, while direct clients may not care which CAT tool you use—and may not even be aware that you use a tool—translation agency clients often have tool preferences, and these preferences should guide your choice. You will attract more agency clients by having and being able to use a mainstream CAT tool, and can therefore reap dividends on the money and time you invest in buying and learning to use one. To a point, having and expertly using multiple tools will bring even more work, because you can target a wider segment of the agency market.

Cost may also influence your choice. Prices range from free to over $800; however, group buy discounts on can save you hundreds of dollars. You should also take advantage of free demo versions when they are available. Furthermore, keep in mind the frequency and price of updates and upgrades, which vary widely across tools.

Listserv respondents generally agreed that SDL Trados Studio is the CAT tool with the largest market share, followed closely by memoQ. Other tools that were mentioned (in no particular order) include Wordfast, Déjà Vu, OmegaT, and Across. Respondents recommended using the latest versions. Comments, some subjective, are given on each tool below.

  • SDL Trados Studio, widely used and demanded by many clients, is a feature-rich and powerful tool; nonetheless, it can be challenging to learn, has a congested interface, and is comparatively expensive, at $825 for the 2017 version. (The price, however, dropped to $575 on a recent group buy.)
  • memoQ, like Trados, is powerful and widely used and accepted, but it is nearly $200 cheaper. Some agencies lend a memoQ license, making purchase unnecessary in such cases. One user commented that the browser (online) version is not very useful.
  • Wordfast was described as not having as many features and options as Trados or memoQ, but, as a result, it is easier to master and still widely used. Like memoQ, Wordfast is cheaper than Trados, and was heavily discounted in a recent group buy.
  • Déjà Vu has strong segment assembly powers and is relatively inexpensive (listed at $450, and offered at 30% off on, but has weaker quality assurance features.
  • OmegaT is free and simple, and boasts a helpful support group online. One user complained that OmegaT does not segment Japanese very well.
  • Across: One respondent strongly discouraged using Across, as it apparently does not do much to assist translation. Corroborating this commentary, it has a rating of only two out of five stars on

As these tools have progressed, so has compatibility among them. A translator may be able to open in his or her favorite tool a translation memory file made with a different tool; or, an agency’s project manager may be able to open a translation in Trados that was completed in memoQ. Some respondents, however, still reported problems with compatibility, even among the mainstream tools. The shrewd translator who is aware of this pitfall will use caution when working across multiple tools. Nevertheless, once one has learned to skillfully use one CAT tool, the next should be much easier to master.

As the listserv discussion died down, I downloaded and began to use OmegaT (it’s free, after all). I had missed the first SDL Trados Studio 2017 group buy of the year in January, so I got the free and fully functional 30-day trial instead. When Trados was offered on discount again in February, I made sure to sign up, and have since purchased a full user license. Now the real work begins!

Header image credit: StockSnap

Author bio

Paul Froese is a freelance Spanish to English translator specializing in scientific translation. A native of Walla Walla, Washington, he holds an undergraduate degree in plant science and biotechnology, and a graduate degree in crop science focused on plant breeding and genetics, both from Washington State University. Though a linguist since his late teens, he only began his translation career in 2016, and sees himself very much as a newcomer to the profession.

Visit Paul’s website at and his blog about trends in Latin American agriculture at E-mail him with ideas or suggestions at

Tech Talk: Software and Tools for Translators

Tech Talk: Software and Tools for TranslatorsIn 2014, I made two life-changing decisions: I committed to working as a freelance translator, and I purchased a PC after years of Apple use. I bought a cheap Lenovo, and told myself that, if I wanted to make money (which I wasn’t, then), I needed to spend it. Simple enough.

Then I tried opening a Microsoft Word file, only to learn that MS Office shipped separately from the computer itself. It might as well have come without a screen. What good was a laptop if I couldn’t even write something on it? On top of which, I’d have to pay a subscription for the privilege of downloading MS Office?

You cannot be a good, efficient, professional translator without the right technology, but professional-level software can be expensive, presenting a challenge for some first-time translators.

If you are looking to cut costs in at least one area, take heart: the web is full of free and open-source software that translators can use. Here are five programs I’ve found invaluable, not only because they literally have no price tag.


OmegaT is a free, open-source computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool in the same model as such proprietary CAT tools as memoQ or Trados. It takes up comparatively little space on your hard drive and is easy to learn to use: it comes with a preinstalled guide for getting started, making it ideal for new translators. OmegaT lets you create, manage, and import translation memories and glossaries, breaks text into easily translatable segments, and allows for easy insertion of previously translated terms, which will reduce your translation time enormously. A perk of its being open-source is that independent developers have written scripts and plug-ins, making it more customizable than other tools on the market. Speaking of which, you may wonder why, if there’s a free, customizable CAT tool available, a market for paid ones exists at all. First, OmegaT is not the industry standard. Most translation companies and freelancers use a proprietary CAT tool. For compatibility reasons, especially if you access the company’s TMs through the cloud, you may have to use the company’s CAT tool.  Second, open-source software is not known for its polish. OmegaT’s interface looks like it was designed by someone with Windows 95 nostalgia; personally, I’ve found its layout confusing, especially when looking for other segments. Nevertheless, it’s the quickest, cheapest way to introduce yourself to an essential translation tool.

Google Drive and Google Docs

You generate a lot of files when you translate, and they take up space. They’re also troublesome to search through. Enter Google Drive, a cloud-based (read: not on your computer) storage system for nearly anything with a file extension. Google Drive lets you create as many folders as you need to organize your materials and gives you 15 GB of storage for free. For $1.99 a month, you can increase that to 100 GB. You can use Drive to create any kind of document or file you might create using Microsoft Office with the benefit of instant saving and the ability to revert to previous versions very easily. It’s also portable: files can be converted to Drive format easily, meaning you can take an MS Word file and edit it from anywhere with an Internet connection. Searching for files on drive is also easier than on your computer, for the simple fact that you’re using Google’s search function, and not Microsoft Explorer’s. When was the last time you Binged something?

Drive isn’t the only cloud-based storage system: Dropbox is also free, and you can use Apple’s iCloud or Microsoft’s OneDrive. Still, Google Drive integrates directly with other Google software, notably Gmail. You can add Drive to your desktop as well, making it easyto transfer materials from your computer to the web. As more and more companies move toward cloud-based storage systems, using and understanding Drive will make it easier to collaborate with potential employers.

However, it’s important to realize that the cloud is not completely secure, and someclient contracts stipulate that translators not store any files associated with the translation on cloud-based servers. Nevertheless,many translators still use Google Drive or one of its competitors for collaboration with other freelancers or to have personal documents within easy access, and not all clients are as sensitive to the cloud


For all its convenience, Google Drive is useless without an Internet connection. OpenOffice, a free version of word processing tools similar to the Microsoft Office suite, works offline like any regular piece of software, and isn’t subject to the connectivity hiccups that can slow down Google Drive. LibreOffice is another free word processing alternative to Microsoft Office many people use. For my purposes, the best thing about OpenOffice is that it’s intuitive: if you can use Microsoft Word, you can use OpenOffice Writer.

OpenOffice’s great shortcoming, which it shares with Google Docs, is that it doesn’t create the same type of files as Microsoft Word. This can lead to compatibility issues and inconsistent formatting. A Word document won’t necessarily retain all its features when you open it in OpenOffice, and vice-versa, meaning you must be ruthless in checking that you send a properly formatted document to clients. The consequence is that many translators do purchase Microsoft Office by the time they work with paying clients.


Evernote is a sort of notepad that syncs across devices. It allows you to create checklists, take notes, and collaborate with other users. You can also use it to bundle notes together, making it a great tool for tracking clients and keeping client-specific information within easy reach. Instead of, say, keeping one spreadsheet for client contacts and a separate text file for notes taken at conferences, you can create and link two notebooks in Evernote, making useful information much more easily obtainable. And unlike Drive, it runs without an Internet connection.


I’d had no idea I might need to use a file-renaming device until Jost Zetzsche’s most recent Translator’s Tool Box came out and featured ReNamer at the top. (Are subscribed to the Tool Box? It’s a stream of tech information specifically for translators from one of the most successful translators in the industry, and there’s a free version.) It only takes a few email exchanges with a client to learn just how quickly different versions of documents can accumulate, all of them with the inevitable _proofread_edited_re-edited attached to the end. Say you have a naming system for your files that your client is disregarding, and you want to keep your records consistent: ReNamer allows you to rename files without opening them or using any of the clunky techniques you’d have to use in Windows Explorer, and it can do it in bulk. Ten different files that you’ve translated and want to label as such? ReNamerinserts_translated to all of them with one click of a button.

A good rule for anything software-related is that if a proprietary version of something exists, a free version does too. It takes very little searching and tenacity to derive as much utility from free software as from paid, which can make a big difference if you’re a first-time freelancer looking to move up from living on cheese sandwiches. And these are only five examples; what do you get for free that the rest of us pay for?

Header image credit: Picjumbo
Header image edited with Canva

Author bio

Dan McCartney

Dan McCartney is a freelance French and Spanish to English translator based in Chicago. Before translating, he worked as a consultant, instructor, and freelance math problem writer.

15 FREE Tools for Translators (and Not Only) that You Might Not Know You Need

By Flo Bejgu
Reblogged from Inbox Translation blog with permission from the author (including the images)

15 FREE Tools for Translators (and Not Only) that You Might Not Know You NeedThe advancements in technology have made it possible for people of different languages, traditions and customs to come into contact. As was expected, translators and interpreters quickly became essential for society, because they are the only ones who can make conversations between foreign individuals possible. Every translator in the twenty-first century will tell you that it is impossible to get the job done without appropriate tools for time management, productivity, organisation and even translation. Nevertheless, it is not enough to simply purchase an overly-priced product.

One must invest wisely in the right tools, because as any good craftsman can tell you, owning the best one doesn’t mean that you will get the job done: you must also know where to start. After scouring the Internet far and wide, we have found the best tools for managing time, increasing productivity, tracking efforts and all in all, reducing workload. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to purchase proprietary software at obscene prices, because the Internet is teeming with free, open-source software (FOSS) and reasonably priced tools which can be used to make translating easier.

FOSS is very useful, especially since most translators are self-employed. If you are translator struggling with an unstable budget, or simply trying channel work efforts in a positive direction, you will want to know all about these 15 tools, organised in four handy categories: Productivity & Collaboration, Blogging and Social Media, Design, and Security.

productivity collaboration for translators

 1. Google Drive

google drive translationsGoogle Drive is one of those tools that freelancers and entrepreneurs simply cannot live without. It’s like Google Docs on steroids, because it provides a hefty 15GB space, for free. In addition to this, it has a plethora of features which are extremely useful for business. This cloud storage service can be used for different purposes, especially since it integrates so well with other Google products (such as Google Apps).

Why it is useful for translators:

Besides its organisational and management capabilities, Google Drive can also be used as a collaboration tool. Several people can work on the same document, at the same time, without having the file crash (useful if you have a project with a tight deadline and need to work with someone else). This can significantly speed up the work, and make tracking tasks easier (each action performed by a collaborator is tracked by the software). There is also a handy chat function integrated.

But this is not all, probably the best way is to use it as a very inexpensive (free for up to 15GB) and simple backup tool, you do backup, don’t you? To take advantage of this, all you need is to install it and put your most precious files inside the folder that it creates and you are good to go. This way, those files are also copied in the cloud creating a backup. Pretty neat, I’d say! Last but not least, Google Drive is an invaluable tool in a translator’s toolbox because it makes sending large attachments (over 25 MB) a breeze, organising data easy, and accessing documents from any location with internet access, possible.

Pricing and plans:google drive pricingOut of all the cloud storage units out there, Google Drive is arguably the best. Recently, prices for the tool dropped dramatically. This basically means that you can get ten times the storage that you would get from a competitor, for the same price.

Where to start

First, you will have to register an account with Google, unless you already have an account with YouTube, Google+, Gmail or any other Google services, in which case you already have one.

There are no payments included, and you will gain instant access to all the Google services. Once you have signed in, you can download the desktop version of the app.

Recommended read: Get started with Google Drive: Overview

2. Evernote

evernote for translatorsEvernote has the power to give you your life back, if you only let it. There is no questioning its usefulness as a note taking and productivity tool, but most people don’t use it at its full potential. Evernote is so much more than a simple note-taker: it is an overall superb tool, and the more you add to it, the smarter it becomes.

Why it is useful for translators:

The volume of information that translators must remember on a daily basis will eventually become overwhelming. Luckily for us, Evernote can store all of it, have it indexed and searchable across a single platform. A word of advice would be to use all of its features, not only the ones that you feel comfortable with, to become even more organised.

Interesting features you may not know about:

–          Presentation mode –  you can turn your notes into a presentation
–          Handwriting supported (for Android)

Pricing and plans:

There are three price plans available for Evernote.

  1. Evernote Free: with limited features
  2. Evernote Premium (approx. 4.99$/month):offline notebooks, passcode lock, note presentation, smarter search, more storage.
  3. Evernote Business (approx. 13.75$/month/user):4GB of storage, better collaboration, centralised administration and billing, business and personal note-books etc.

Where to start:

Simply download the app on your smart-phone, PC or tablet and register a free account with your e-mail.

Recommended reads: Getting started with Evernote & How to Use Evernote Correctly

 3. Podio

podio logo translationsPodio is a superb tool that every freelancer/small team should be using. Two years ago it received 9/10 stars from Web.Appstorm. Today, their words still stand, and for good reason. Its key features include customisable project management for teams, content sharing and feedback workflows for clients, email and webforms integration, simple CRM and sales tracking, 24 hour personal support(paid version only), file-sharing integrated with DropBox and Google Drive, mobile capabilities and automated progress reporting and calculations.

podio screenshot

Why it is useful for translators

Podio is the ultimate tool for managing time and organising stuff. It is the workspace app-market that makes it shine. Each website or project has its own workspace. In it you can download apps, keep track of ideas and collaborate. As far as the built-in app market is concerned, it has a tool for absolutely everything. If you are working for home, but have to share data with different people, it is very convenient to have all of it in one place.

One thing we use Podio for in our team is to keep all the ideas in one place and share them with team members. Sure, there’s email, but eventually they will get buried in a pile somewhere and will be forgotten. Sure, you can use spreadsheets, but can you share them? You can via Google (see above), but in Podio you can easily share and organise them, you can label them and approve/dismiss them accordingly, add a date to review them, you and your collaborators (or just you) can write comments, add pictures etc. It’s brilliant.

Pricing and plans

You can opt for the free version (up to 5 users) or, if you have a larger team, Podio for teams is available for $9 per month/user.

Where to start

Sign up and you are good to go.

Recommended read: Podio basics

4. Explain and Send Screenshots Extension for Chrome

explain send screenshotsThe most effective way of building authority online is by sharing secrets of your trade valuable information via blog posts or social media networks. Lots of people do this by taking screenshots and saving them via Paint. Not anymore! Hailing from the world of literally-named-extensions, Explain and Send Screenshots Extension for Chrome is a simple tool that will help you grab and share screenshots directly from your Chrome browser.explain send

Why it is useful for translators

As I have already mentioned, you can make your life a whole lot easier by saving screenshots via the Explain and Send Screenshots Extension for Chrome. You can also share them on Twitter or Facebook directly. There is an editing feature that enables you to add arrows, circles, text and lines to the screenshot. When translating websites this tool will help you quickly show your client various issues that you encounter while testing the translation and this will save you a loooooot of time.

Pricing and plans

The tool is completely free.

Where to start

Download it from the Google store, install and start using it.

5. Gmail

gmail translatorsGmail was released as a beta service back in 2004. Since then, it has revolutionised the concept of webmail through a small, compact interface, aggressive spam reduction tools, extensive mail storage space and fast operation. At the moment, it is the service of choice for tech enthusiasts. Although Yahoo and Hotmail also offer interesting features, many people prefer Gmail. This is mainly because it offers some handy features that freelancers need.

Why it is useful for translators

One of the best things about Gmail is the fact that it offers continuously growing storage, POP access and free IMAP. The advertisements were cut to the minimum and the interface is rich and fast. Nevertheless, it is the integration with other Google tools that really gives it the edge. First of all you can connect to Google Hangouts to chat with clients or colleagues (up to 10 people).google hangouts

You can also use Google Calendar to create events or send invitations. If you are active on Google+ you can even follow other people’s comments and check for updates. Lastly, an offline version which uses HTML5 was released. This will enable freelancers or translators to send emails while offline.

Pricing and plans

The service is free.

Where to start

Register and verify an account on Gmail.

Recommended read: 10 Ways to Use Gmail Like a Pro

6. Skype

skypeSkype is one of the most popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) web services available and it couldn’t simply be off this list. I’m sure many of you use it on a regular basis, but I added it for the few not yet familiar with it. It enables people, thousands of miles from each other, to communicate effectively using voice or video calls. There is a reason why Skype dominates the world of VoIP and holds the largest user base of its kind: it offers the best voice and image quality (except for that of Apple’s Face Time). But how exactly can it help freelancers and translators?

Why it is useful for translators

Skype is an excellent tool for communicating with clients and other freelancers. There are several ways to maximise its use, especially as a translator. First of all, you could offer free consultations for prospects. All you have to do is engage in a voice/video call, and share a small part of your knowledge. Another idea would be to schedule consultations/meetings with your clients. You could also use it to make the collaboration between team members easier. You can organise your contacts into groups (translators, Twitterers, agencies, clients etc.). Another nice feature is that you can have several people invited for a call to organise a conference.

The Share screen option is quite handy to either help someone or get help – a lot easier to explain the issue without having to describe it. Sending documents is easy: you can either drag and drop them into the chat box or use the Send file option.

You can also record a 3-minute video to send.

Skype has lots of features, but most people use just a handful of them. You should play with it a little and see all it has to offer.

Pricing and plans

You can use the basic version of Skype for free, or you can choose a premium plan (which starts at £0.69/month). Connecting landlines with Skype also costs. Additionally, you could purchase Skype Credit.

Where to start

Download the kit from the official page, install and use.

One more tip: if you love using emoticons, Skype has plenty. But you can access even more here.

blogging social media for translators


wordpress blogging is without a doubt the go-to free blogging service for the vast majority of writers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, business people and freelancers. The service was inspired from the, which requested an easy to use, hosted blog service. With the help of, one can create a website (even without HTML knowledge) and monitor traffic. It has an intuitive dashboard and lots of plugins available (Akismet is a great one to use to avoid spam comments).wordpress dashboard translators blogging

Why it is useful for translators

Blogging should be part of any freelancer’s online marketing strategy, no matter his or her specialisation. It is the only reliable way of creating a solid voice. will give freelancers and translators deep control over their websites even if they do not grasp the basics of web design.

Pricing and Plans

–          Free (for a blog hosted on
–          Paid (various plans available)

Where to start

Simply sign up for a free account, and create a website. If it has the extension ‘’ at the end, it will be free, but you can also purchase your own domain (‘.com’, ‘.org’, ‘.net’ etc.).

Side note ( vs There is also which enables you to download the WordPress software (for free) and host it with your chosen hosting provider (instead of using hosting from

Recommended reads: WordPress How-To For Beginners & Over 200 WordPress Tutorials

8. HootSuite

hootsuiteHootSuite is the ultimate social media dashboard, and the ideal Twitter client. Its major selling points are the extremely simple and intuitive interface, speed, mobile capabilities and support. The concept of HootSuite is extremely simple: you add your social accounts to it, and monitor their activity in different tabs, at the same time. You can also share links, photos and statuses via Hootsuite.

Why it is useful for translators

Freelancers, translators, business people, interpreters, and pretty much anyone who has an online presence will love HootSuite. You have no idea how much time you can save by correctly monitoring feeds from it. Additionally, you can share files supported by Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), Adobe Suite and RTF, TXT, ODF and MP3 extensions.hootsuite social media management system

Although Hootsuite does a brilliant job on Facebook and LinkedIn, it truly shines with Twitter. You can open up to 10 streams at the same time, manage retweets, schedule new tweets and even repost content on all your other social networks. Of course, you should not rely solely on its automation capability, you are human after all and this needs to come across.

One downside: it does not yet support Google+ profile (it does support business pages however, which is great).

Pricing plans

hootsuite pricing

Where to start

Hootsuite is extremely convenient because you can log in with one of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter or Google+). You don’t even need to install it. Simply go to the homepage after you have logged in, and customise your dashboard.

Recommended read: HootSuite Quick Start Guide

design tools for translators

9. Canva

canva logo design translation blogsMost graphic design tools overwhelm the user with a plethora of options that he or she probably does not understand. Canva is amazing for the clueless because it makes designing extremely simple, without compromising on performance. The software is tightly integrated with stock photo image banks, ideal for beginners, and extremely intuitive.


Why it is useful for translators

If you are thinking of promoting yourself online, with the help of a blog, but have no idea how the design process works, you will probably need some help. Canva is a simple design service which will enable translators (and not only, of course) to create beautiful presentations, invitations and website graphics in the blink of an eye. It is the perfect shortcut for those who are not graphically inclined because it mostly operates with the help of drag and drop tools and user-friendly controls.

Pricing and plans

Canva is free if you use your own photos or choose from the multitude of free backgrounds, layouts, stickers and images. Stock images must be purchased, but they only cost $1 each.

Where to start

Simply register your account and enjoy!

Recommended read: Else Gellinek’s post on this tool.

10. Pixabay

10 pixabayNot a tool per se, but useful nonetheless. Designers and bloggers are always on the hunt for good pictures, free of copyright. There are certainly many repositories available online, but most of them are not very affordable. Pixabay is a fresh new resource, with a growing selection of excellent imagery (over 40,000 intuitively organised photos and a handy search function). The great thing about it is that all photos are free, and no licence conditions apply to them as the pictures are bound to Creative Commons Deed CC0.  

Why it is useful for translators

WordPress bloggers will be thrilled to hear that Pixabay Images is also available as a WordPress plugin which enables them to pick public domain pictures with only one click. So if you want to enhance the overall appearance of your blog and pages, you can use Pixabay images, without paying attribution or linking back to the source.

pixabay translation search

Pricing and plans

Pixabay is free.

Where to start

Download and install the WordPress plugin or visit the official website.

11. Piktochart

11 piktochart blogHere’s another FOSS that freelancers should consider using: Piktochart. It is basically free, online infographic creator software which can be used to add a little pizzazz to a boring-looking website. It combines graphs, text, and charts which can be easily assembled using a drag-and-drop interface. This innovating service can be used by students who are learning the basics of visually representing pieces of information, teachers who want to make their lesson more exciting, and professionals who are trying to make information easier to understand.

piktochart theme

Why it is useful for translators

While it is essential to promote yourself online, doing so through written content will not get you very far. According to recent statistics, platforms and websites which rely heavily on imagery and videos are more successful. This is why you should consider alternative content to spruce up your blog. If you wish to explain the secrets of translation and interpretation in a more visually appealing manner, we advise you to use Piktochart.

Pricing and Plans

You can use the free version (limited themes) or you can opt for one of the payment plans available:

piktochart pricing

Where to start

Register your account and create your infographics.

Recommended read: Getting started

12. translators may have begun as a Microsoft-sponsored replacement for Windows’s built-in image editor, but it has grown to become one of the best free photo editing packages available. Granted, it may not be able to hold a candle to Photoshop, which is clearly more advanced, but considering that it is an open-source freeware editor, it will definitely not disappoint.

Why it is useful for translators

The question remains: should freelancers and translators use it? Absolutely! is incredibly easy to use, and it will enhance the overall appearance of your blog, articles or presentations in no-time. The software can rotate, crop, resize images, create collages and adjust colours. It also supports TIFF, GIF, PNG and JPEG formats. For the most part the interface is extremely straightforward, but it also has some sophisticated selection and retouching tools.

Here is an example of what you can easily do in

picmonkey collage

Pricing and plans is a free photo-editing program.

Where to start

Download from the official website, install and use. Check out the plugins while you’re there.

Video Tutorial:

13. PicMonkey

13 picmonkeyYou should know from the start that PicMonkey is the first photo editor of its kind. The interface is extremely easy to use and very intuitive. With this tool you can tweak your photos, add banners, symbols, text etc. The great thing about it is that the free version offers enough tools for the clueless, while the Royale subscription offers enough bling.

Look what we did with the logo with just a few clicks:

picmonkey in use

Why it is useful for translators

Just like the previously mentioned tools in this category, it will help you spruce up your blog with its editing capabilities. . Here are some of PicMonkey’s main features:
–          Cropping and resizing
–          Filters and effects
–          Text tools (sizing, transparency, colouring)
–          Frames and textures
–          Editing (including airbrushing, wrinkle removing, teeth whitening etc.)
–          Collages (chose from various layouts)

Pricing and plans

The software is free but you can upgrade your account to Royale, for an additional 2.75$/month or 33$/year. This will give you access to primo effects, overlays, fonts and textures.

Where to start

Sign up for the free version (you can still use it without having to create an account if you want to test it first) and watch a few tutorials to get your creative juices flowing.

security for translators

14. TrueCrypt

14 truecrypt toolTrueCrypt is one of the most powerful encryption programs which enables you to encrypt your information in virtual ’safes‘. It is also an open source program (free/donationware) which can create hidden volumes, or hide an entire operating system. TrueCrypt will render your data unreadable, unless the user has the proper key.



Why it is useful for translators

It keeps your data safe, enough said. Here are some of its main features:
–          Creates virtual encrypted disks within a file, which can be mounted as real disks
–          Can encrypt an entire partition or storage device (the recommended way of using it)
–          Encrypt is automatic, real-time and transparent
–          Uses pipelining and parallelization to read data as if it were not encrypted

Pricing and plans

The software is free.

Where to start

Download the software from the official page, install, and use.

Recommended read: Guide to Getting started with TrueCrypt

UPDATE: Thanks to Shai for pointing this out, a day after this post went live the development of TrueCrypt ended. For those interested to read more about the subject, a good read can be found at

15. LastPass

lastpass logo shadowAs a freelance translator or interpreter you most certainly have dozens of passwords from your emails, PayPal, blogs, and other tools. Wouldn’t it be swell if you didn’t have to memorise all of them? The LastPass password manager was designed for this exact purpose. You can use this tool to generate and store passwords and automatically log into any site once you have saved your details.

lastpass features strong password

Why it is useful for translators

If you are having trouble remembering all your passwords, LastPass is definitely a tool you will want to have in your toolbar. Besides its obvious use, it can also be integrated with Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer. You can install it with the universal kit, or use a specific one, according to your browser. The interface is extremely intuitive and user-friendly, which makes storing, managing, generating strong passwords and accessing log-ins a breeze. In this way you don’t have to remember 8 characters and a capital :).

Pricing and plans

There are three plans available at the moment:
–          Lastpass for free: protect, manage and optimise your passwords
–          Lastpass Premium (12$/year): unlimited use of LastPass mobile apps, multifactor authentication options, no ads, tools for locked computers
–          Lastpass Enterprise ($18-24$/year/user): a convenient package which can be used by all employees

Where to start:

Create a new account during installation, and think about your master password (it should be really strong). Import your passwords and you are all set.

Recommended read: Getting started

What about you? What’s your favourite tool that should be on the list? Or are there any features of the featured (the love for language plays is contagious, as you can see) tools we have missed? Let us know in a comment below (you have noticed the rhyme, right?).