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August 3, 2020

Assisting users with non-English Windows 10

When assisting Windows 10 users, regardless  of whatever localized language version they are using, it’s good to remember that core Windows is always in English. That includes all system folder names, all native Windows applications and all tools. Localized folders, for instance in the user profile are in fact not folders but rather, they are symbolic links to folders with English names.

Here’s an illustration: in the following screenshot a user profile folder is shown for Swedish Windows 10:

Click screenshots to open them enlarged in a new tab.

Each of those folder names is a symbolic link. For instance, you do not need to know that Desktop is Skrivbord in Swedish; if you want user to open the Desktop folder, you can tell him / her to write C:\Users\Username\Desktop in the File Explorer addressbar and press Enter. You do not have to know and tell the user that you mean C:\Användare\Username\Skrivbord (Användere = Users, localized symbolic link to Users folder).

This is quite practical when assisting users who run Windows in some language other than English. You do not need to know what Downloads is in Serbian or Korean or Russian. Assisting a user with Japanese Windows, you do not need to know and tell to open folder ダウンロード. It’s OK, and enough, to tell the user to write C:\Users\Username\Downloads in the File Explorer addressbar, and hit Enter. Or, if you want a Japanese user to open Notepad, you do not have to tell him / her to type メモ帳 in Windows Search; instead, you can tell user to type Notepad and hit Enter. メモ帳 is just a symbolic link to notepad.exe.

For Windows 10 Settings it is also quite easy to use and tell a user what to do, no matter what language version that user is running. On the main Settings page, everything is in same order. For example, I’ll show first the Settings home screen in English, then the same in Swedish:

If a user wants to add an additional language, you can tell that person to  click the 8th object on the Settings home screen, counting  right to left and top to bottom, from the item at the top left.  That’s Time & language, or in Swedish Tid och språk. You can then tell the person to open the third item from the top in the left navigation pane, and then click the + sign on the right-hand pane.

These are just simple examples. What’s important to remember is that because the Windows core is in English, you can always find a way to get any user you might be assisting to do what you need them to do. Regardless of the Windows language, the core and commands to control it remain the same.




Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

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