WordPress: How To Stop Unused Language Updates

A screen clipping showing the WordPress toolbar and Dashboard menu, with updates available indicated. An excited nerd emoji has been overlaid.

Do you frequently notice the update indicators in your WordPress interface and hurry over to apply the latest fixes… only to find that the update is actually a only yet another translation update for a language you don’t even use at all?

Clipped screen shot of a WordPress dashboard highlighting the "Update Translations" option in the Updates screen

After a flurry of updates this week for Russian, Romanian and other language packs that don’t impact my use of WP in any way, I decided to check out how to nullify these frequent translation updates. As with many aspects of WordPress, it’s pretty easy and file-based.

The Fix

To prevent this, you just need to remove the unused language packages in

in your WordPress install. In this folder, you will find Portable Object (.po) and Machine Object (.mo) files for the languages that are included with WordPress by default.

Simply delete the language files for any languages you don’t use, and WordPress will not continue to attempt these extraneous translation updates!

If you manage your WordPress files via Bash it’s easy to delete all languages using


$ cd ~/path/to/wordpress/

$ find wp-content/languages -type f \( -name \*.mo -o -name \*.po \) -delete

Find comes in handy again if you wanted to, say, remove all translation packs except for a certain language. In this example, I’ll keep Canadian English but remove all other translations:

$ cd ~/path/to/wordpress/

$ find wp-content/languages -type f ! -name "*-en_CA.*" -delete

Once that’s done, WordPress will no longer try to bring down updates to these files every time the community publishes improved phrase sets in these languages.

Reversing Course: Adding Languages Back

Decided you do want some of those language packs after all? No problem!

Starting with WordPress 4.1, it’s very easy to add languages to WordPress that aren’t currently installed. In the WordPress Dashboard, the Settings > General screen shows an option for Site Language. The accompanying menu will show the Installed language(s) up top, followed by a long list of available language and dialect packs. Pick any of these from the list, and WordPress will download the latest available translation files.

Additional Resources

For more information about (or to help with) WordPress community translation efforts, check out the WordPress Translation Portal on WordPress.org and learn how to contribute.

Even if you don’t love the frequency of language updates that you don’t personally use, you have to appreciate how much work the WordPress community puts in to make WordPress available and up-to-date in so many languages and dialects.

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