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Understanding .PO Files for Website Localization

If you're planning to translate your website and utilize a CMS and plugin for hosting translated content, this article is a must-read for you.

Once you've decided to target specific countries and expand your global audience, it's crucial to carefully plan your website translation process. Depending on your CMS, you may receive various file outputs to send to your language service provider (LSP) for localization.

What exactly is a .PO file? A .PO file, also known as a portable object file, is a text-based file commonly used in software development. It can be referenced by Java programs, GNU gettext, and other software as a properties file. Engineers and translators can easily view and edit these files in a text editor.


.PO Files Localization -  ITS Groups

The structure of a .PO file

The structure of a .PO file is organized into entries, each representing a specific string that requires translation. Each entry consists of two main components: the original source string (msgid) and its corresponding translated version (msgstr). The translator's task is to provide the translation in the msgstr section.

One of the advantages of the .PO file format is its human-readability and editability. Translators can easily work with .PO files using specialized editors or even a simple text editor. This flexibility allows translators to comprehend the content, make translations, and maintain the necessary formatting and context within the file.

But what about a .POT file?

A .POT file, or Portable Object Template, is a specific type of file used in the localization process. It serves as a template or blueprint for creating .PO (Portable Object) files. While .PO files contain the actual translations, .POT files act as the starting point for translation projects. They include the original source strings without any translated content.

.POT files are often used in software development and content management systems to streamline the localization process. Translators can take the .POT file, translate the source strings, and create corresponding .PO files with the translated content.

By using .POT files, organizations can ensure consistency and efficiency in translating their content while maintaining a centralized reference for all language versions.


Benefits of .PO Files:

  1. Correct Format for Localization: Working with .PO files ensures immediate file outputs in the right format for localization. Once translations are completed, no manual conversion is required, saving you time and money.

  2. Human Readable and Editable: .PO files are compact, human-readable, and editable without the need for specialized tools. While translators may prefer dedicated .PO editors, they can easily comprehend and work with the format.

How to open a .PO file?

To open a .PO file, you can use a variety of text editors or specialized .PO file editors. Here are a few methods you can try:

  1. Text Editors: .PO files are essentially plain text files, so you can use any text editor to open them. Common text editors like Notepad or Notepad++ (Windows), TextEdit (Mac), or Sublime Text are suitable options. Simply right-click on the .PO file, select "Open with," and choose the text editor of your choice.

  2. PO Editors: There are dedicated .PO file editors designed specifically for managing and translating .PO files. These editors provide advanced features and a user-friendly interface for efficient translation. Examples include software such as Poedit, or website such as Poeditor. You can download and install Poedit on your computer and then open the .PO file within the application.

  3. Translation Management Systems (TMS): If you're working with a translation agency or using a Translation Management System, they might provide an online platform for managing .PO files. In such cases, you can log in to the TMS, navigate to the specific project or file, and open the .PO file directly within the platform.

At ITS Groups Translation, we pride ourselves on utilizing a powerful combination of cutting-edge platforms to effectively manipulate, filter, and translate PO files. With our innovative solutions, we streamline the process of working with PO files, ensuring efficient and accurate localization. Whether your PO files contain a vast amount of information or require specific context translation, our knowledgeable team leverages advanced technologies to handle the complexities involved.


ITS Groups Translation possesses the expertise and capability to effectively handle .PO files and cater to the specific translation needs of companies. Many .PO files contain a substantial amount of information, making it challenging for some language service providers (LSPs) to filter and translate only the essential content. However, at ITS Groups, we are well-versed in navigating the intricacies of .PO files and providing translations that focus solely on the context you require.

Our skilled localization engineer understands that not all content within a .PO file may be relevant or require translation in some cases. With our in-depth knowledge and experience, we can accurately identify and extract the specific context that needs to be translated, ensuring that the translated content aligns precisely with your requirements.

By leveraging our expertise in handling .PO files, we streamline the translation process, saving you time and effort. Our linguistic professionals possess a keen eye for detail, ensuring that the translated content is accurate, consistent, and maintains the intended meaning. We are committed to delivering high-quality translations that capture the essence of your content while maintaining the integrity of the original context.

Transform your website into a multilingual powerhouse. Contact us today.


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