I have almost completed my first Drupal 7 multilanguage test site. As long as I'm not logged in, I can browse through all pages and switch languages. When logged in, my first issue was that the backend language would switch, when switching the frontend language. I.e., the admin menus are translated, but should stay English (or whatever the editors preferred language is).

Then I found that in Configuration > Languages > Detection and Selection, I can select how the language is chosen. So: User first, then the backend stays in the user language. Fine. But then, the frontend stays in that language, too! So when logged in, I cannot browse all pages anymore, only the English ones ...

There must be a way to select front and backend languages independently. How?

4 Answers 4


I know this post is getting old and the OP probably has this sorted by now but I came here looking for the same answer and thought I'd post a follow up for anyone looking for details. I've made this as easy and basic as possible in case you're new to Drupal.

My version is 7.21.

Ok, here's what I just did to get the back end in English and the site content in Spanish. I'm assuming you have all the translating modules installed and set up, etc.

Go to your admin profile and set your languages, for me its this:

Administration Language = Default administration language, currently English

Language Settings Language = English

Then go get the Administration Language module that Patrick linked to. (its currently the Dev version but works fine for me, look in the red area for the DL). Install and enable.

Then go to Administration > Configuration > Regional and language > Languages:

Scroll to the bottom and you'll have an option of "Use administration language in the administration menu". Set that to Enabled

Save it and now everything should show in what ever language while the back end stays in the language you set for your admin profile.

I hope this helps!

  • The OP has not really sorted this out. He quit his Drupal adventure, for this specific reason, the difficulties of setting up a multilingual site ... (not the only reason, of course, but the decisive one) It was the video that Patrick linked to. I watched the whole thing and got the impression that it was hopeless for the time being. Thanks, Rabid Apple, for presenting the solution. Either I didn't do it right last year, or the module has improved enough so that it works fine now.
    – Ralf
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 9:10
  • You're welcome Ralf, I'm glad you got it working :) Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 5:14
  • 1
    Thanks, this works for me too (7.x-1.0-beta1 version). Btw, on the 'admin/config/regional/language' an extra column is added to set the default administration language.. it took me some time to figure this out..
    – Watergate
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 16:43
  • Re. "Scroll to the bottom and you'll have an option […]": the admin_language module settings have now moved to their own tab "Administration → Configuration → Regional and language → Languages → Administration language" (/admin/config/regional/language/admin_language).
    – tanius
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 0:34
  • Also note that the admin_language module has permission settings (who can switch their own admin language, and to what languages). They are at /admin/people/permissions#module-admin_language.
    – tanius
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 0:38

There is an easier way to do this, if we say that the Admin language should be the same language, that the logged in user wants it to be.

This is how you do it.

  1. Go to » /admin/config/regional/language
  2. Choose the "Detection and Selection" tab » /admin/config/regional/language/configure
  3. Activate the "User detection" and drag it to the top of the detection methods.

OBS! It is important, that it is above the "URL detection".

Now login and go to your user account. Here you can choose which language, you prefer the site to be. And the admin pages will now show up in your language, even if you choose for the site content to change to let's say German, while your building your page.

  • 1
    This solution is limited. Just as Ralf states in his question about this method, the front-end is also provided in the user's selected language..
    – Watergate
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 16:28

There is the Administration Language module, though it doesn't even have an alpha release yet for D7 and I haven't used it on D7.

The difficulties in this kind of set up were also touched on in this Drupalcon Denver 2012 presentation by Suzanne Kennedy and Florian Loretan.

  • Thank you, Patrick. I'm surprised by these difficulties. That video is surely useful, and I'll watch it soon. And perhaps check out the module and let you know how it goes. Development seems to have stalled, though. No news since August 2011 ...
    – Ralf
    Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 6:10
  • 1
    Lots of D7 modules are still in dev/alpha/beta without updates since last year. Some work and some don't; the only way to find out is to try them. Unfortunately, there is no standard agreement on what constitutes a "dev/alpha/beta" release. Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 6:28

Maybe you could try using TranslateThis Button for your site. It uses Google translate which translates every page on load. Also you will not have to worry about the backend language.

  • 2
    Thanks, Ajit. Sounds like a "dirty" workaround, but perhaps an option to try. I'm only worried that it might translate everything, not only the admin specific links etc. My personal reason for keeping the admin side English is that I want to know the correct terms to search for in this and other forums, and to find the terms that are described in those forums, videos and books. I.e. for learning. Then, some of my clients will be surprised to find admin links switching languages ... I can get used to it, but how to explain such a flaw to a client?
    – Ralf
    Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 5:58

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