Best Translation Software in 2021 You Can Use Right Now

by Shu Ni Lim 8 minutes to read

the best language translation software for your team

You want to conquer the foreign markets, but first you must choose your weapons wisely. How can you translate documents and webpages effectively to communicate with your multilingual audiences?

In this case, a good translation software is mightier than the sword.

Whether you are a global enterprise or a language service provider, the best translation software for your business should elevate your work quality, consistency, and productivity. In other words, don’t Google Translate your files.

With all the advanced translation tools available today, you can easily find a solution that fits your niche. In this article, we round up the best translation software of 2021 that have helped professionals like you speed up their multilingual workflow.

  1. 5 Things to Consider before Committing to a Translation Software
  2. List of Best Translation Software 2021
  3. A Quick Overview

5 Things to Consider before Committing to a Translation Software

First, let’s talk about essential features. Here are 5 questions that you must ask yourself before making a choice.

  1. CAT or Machine?

CAT, short for computer-assisted translation, is different from machine translation tools like Google Translate where artificial intelligence does all the work.

CAT involves the use of a software by a human translator to expedite the translation process. It’s much cheaper than hiring a person to translate a file from scratch. These software come with special features, such as allowing you to store and access past translations of commonly used terminologies.

While machine translation is generally cheaper, CAT is more nuanced, accurate and consistent, while providing versatile functions for management and collaboration. Thus, no matter what the nature of your business is, the choice between CAT and machine translation should be clear (here is even more detailed explanation about what are cat tools and their 6 essential features).

Let’s say you need to translate a PDF file for work. How you should go about it depends on several factors as detailed in this article. Or, needing to translate Office documents - here are detailed instructions about how to translate Excel and Word accrodingly.

  1. Cloud-Based or Desktop?

Cloud-based translation tools are accessed online through a web browser like Chrome or Firefox. You can use them on any computer and even collaborate remotely with others on translations. Since they are web-based, you can also enjoy regular upgrades and bug fixes by the developer (usually at no extra cost).

However, as with anything that is stored online, there is always a risk that your data may be erased or stolen. Before committing to any web-based translation tool, make sure to
read their security policies on data protection.

On the other hand, desktop translation software must be downloaded and installed on your computer. While most do not require an Internet connection to be functional, you need to free up space on your computer for the installation. This also means that you can’t seamlessly switch between different devices to manage your translations.

Thus, when choosing between translation tools for PC and cloud-based translation software, you need to ask yourself 2 questions. Do I have internet access while working? Do I need to access the program from multiple computers? If your answers are “yes”, go cloud!

  1. Is it easy to use?

The right translation software should help you allocate your time and resources more efficiently. If it’s not easy to use, you and your team would need to undergo intensive software training, which… surprise surprise... takes time and money.

Luckily, you can try out most online translation software to see whether you feel comfortable with their interface. Even the paid ones offer
free trials where you will have access to their full range of features.

  1. Free or Paid?

Free is good, but free almost always comes with strings attached. Want an ad-free workspace? Want to translate more than 5 pages a month? Want to save your files? Yeah, those are going to cost you extra.

You can always opt for a paid software where all the essentials and extras are bundled under a single price, which is more cost effective in the long run. Additionally, your workspace won’t get bombarded with messages asking you to “upgrade” this or that.

  1. Does the software provide technical support?

If translating documents is part of your daily work routine, the best translation software must not only be a convenient tool but a reliable system. When technical issues occur, having a responsive and dedicated support team can really enhance your productivity and user experience.

Thus, before choosing the best translation tool for yourself, remember to consider the accessibility of its support team. Do they have live support? What is the coverage of said support? With some desktop translation software, this may be limited to certain aspects of the product, such as licensing, whereas free translation tools may not even have proper support teams.

An ideal software support team should be able to guide you through procedures, updates, and everything in between.

List of Best Translation Software in 2021

Now that we’ve established the key features you should look for in the best translation software for business, let’s dive into the top translation tools in 2021!

  1. Redokun (Cloud-Based)

Redokun translation software
  • Very easy to use
  • Smart revisions
  • Supports various file types
  • Imports and exports data seamlessly

Having started off as a platform used to translate InDesign files, Redokun has crafted an intuitive translation experience. Now they are bringing their expertise to a wider variety of file types, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and many more.

Redokun preserves the layout and design of your documents, ensuring that the translated copy is ready for circulation and publication. Even if you make changes to the original file, you only need to upload the new revision. Redokun will automatically retain what is unchanged and highlight the new information that needs to be translated.

More importantly, Redokun offers many data export and import options, making it easy for you to work within the larger translation ecosystem. You can export the text in your document to a XLIFF file, which you can then send to a translator who can process it on their preferred CAT software.

Similarly, you can import your translation data from another platform and immediately start processing them on Redokun. This is useful if you want to bring over your past translations, or Translation Memories (TM), which are usually encoded in TMX files.

Try Redokun for free today and access its full range of features. No credit card necessary!

  1. Pairaphrase (Cloud-Based)

Pairaphrase
  • Simultaneous translations
  • Supports audio translations
  • User-reported formatting issues

Pairaphrase offers swift and simultaneous translations while promising priority customer support. As with any web-based platform, the localization of projects enables your team to work together from different locations.

The platform’s services even extend to voice-over translations, where you can upload a script file and then receive an audio translation in 18 different languages. This certainly saves you the hassle of sourcing a professional voice-over artist yourself.

However, in terms of text translation, some users have reported formatting issues with the translated documents, such as changes in spacing, and poor detection of bullet points and numbered lists. Subscription starts from $2,199 per year.

  1. Memsource (Cloud-Based)

Memsource translation software
  • Mobile and desktop app available
  • Offers terminology management
  • Slight learning curve

Another well-known online translation software is Memsource, which you can also download onto your desktop or mobile device. Perfect for those who want to check up on their projects while on the go! However, some users experienced some complexities while setting up certain tasks, which might take some time to get used to.

Subscriptions start from $27 per month for one account.

  1. Smartcat (Cloud-Based)

SmartCat translation software
  • Free for basic features
  • Access to network of translators
  • Expensive for premium features

Smartcat is one of the best translations tools online that covers your basic file formats from Word to PDF. At an additional cost, you can even translate the contents of a scanned document or an image through optical character recognition (OCR).

The platform also has a built-in marketplace where you can readily connect with freelance translators and agencies. If you don’t have an in-house translator already, this is a time-saving feature! You can create a project and then invite the right candidate to complete the translation – all without leaving the platform!

Although Smartcat offers a free for life package, there are limitations on your access to completed projects and your use of translation memories on new projects. Paid packages are on the pricier side, starting from $249 a month.

  1. SDL Trados Studio (Desktop)

Trados cat tool
  • Supports various file types
  • 30-days free trial
  • Steep learning curve
  • Lack of collaboration tools

Looking for a dedicated desktop translation software for PC? SDL Trados Studio is a popular choice among freelancers and companies. Like its cloud-based counterparts, the software uses translation memories and glossaries to speed up your translation process.

More importantly, you can enjoy a really long free trial period of 30 days to familiarize yourself with the interface. And you’ll probably need it because according to reviewers, SDL Trados is relatively complex and requires some training before you can fully appreciate its features.

  1. OmegaT (Desktop)

OmegaT cat tool
  • Completely free
  • Supports Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Lacks basic project management features
  • Clunky interface

OmegaT is a completely free, open-source translation software that won’t surprise you with any paywalls. While its interface is not as advanced or aesthetic as other CAT tools, OmegaT gets the job done for simple translation tasks. You can make use of translation memories and translate as many files as you need.

However, like any open-source tools, you can only depend on community support when it comes to technical issues. This is not ideal for the security and productivity of businesses operating on larger scale.

  1. CafeTran Espresso (Desktop)

CafeTran Espresso cat tool
  • Suitable for freelancers
  • Supports Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Difficult to use with other CAT tools
  • Slow updates

Developed by a translator for other translators, CafeTran Espresso is geared towards freelancers who want to optimize their workflow. While the free version limits your use of translation memories and glossaries, the paid version is one of the most affordable CAT software in the market. With an annual subscription of €80 or a one-time payment of €200, you can have unlimited access to its features.

A setback is that it rolls out updates relatively slower than its competitors. Reviewers also reported difficulties in importing files generated in another CAT software. This is crucial if you work with an agency or a translator who uses a different platform.

  1. memoQ (Desktop)

memoQ cat tool
  • Supports various file types
  • Online integration
  • Supports Windows only
  • Steep learning curve

Similar to SDL Trados Studio, memoQ is a desktop translation tool that is integrated with an online server for collaborative work. You can expect to find all the basics you need in a translation management system… plus handy little features like live preview and real-time spell checking.

However, you will need some technical background to reap the full benefits of memoQ’s features. The stability of its servers also seems to be an issue for some people.

A Quick Overview

That was a lot of pros and cons to digest in one list, so here’s a summary:

Best Translation Software

Ultimately, no amount of research and reviews can beat your own user experience. All the translation software we covered today can be tried for free, so you should make full use of that!

Try Redokun for free today and access its full range of features. No credit card necessary!

Shu Ni Lim
Shu Ni Lim

Shu Ni has worked as a marketing executive for global brands like Tronsmart, Ausdom, and IDMIX.

Now at Redokun, Shu Ni hopes to create meaningful content for multilingual needs by utilizing her expertise in linguistics and graphic design.

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