How to use a custom language switcher with Transposh to build a multi-language Wordpress website

Marco GasiFreelancer
Freelance, I like to share what I know. Find out my articles in my learner-to-learners blog
Edited by: Andrew Leniart
How to build a multilingual website in Wordpress using the plugin Transposh and a custom language switcher. To do it, we'll have to use some plugins and learn how to load and use our custom javascript code.
All these plugins have a free version with relevant limitations: if you want a fully functional plugin you must buy the Premium version.

But this is not true for Transposh: Transposh is totally free, forever, without any limitation (in number of languages, number of websites or anything else). And it works great:

  • Install Transposh and activate it
  • Set your default language in Worpdress Settings->General section
  • Choose the languages you want to use in Transposh->Languages
  • In Transposh->Settings set who can edit translations (typically they will be Administrators and Editors)
  • Enable URL rewriting
  • Set Wordpress Settings->Permalink to Post name (/%postname%/)
  • That's all. Your text will be automatically translated in the selected language

In addition, Transposh let you fix any translation error in a quick and easy way! So I'll show you How to use a custom language switcher with Transposh to build a multi-language website with Wordpress.

But... There is always a "but" :)

First, to use the full widget you must upgrade to the full version: no problem, it's free.  

Go to Transposh section of the dashboard and choose Settings, then check the "Allow upgrading to the full version from, which has no limit on languages used and includes a full set of widgets" checkbox and click the Save changes button. After some time you'll be notified there is an update available for Transposh: update and you are ok.


Once Transposh has been updated to the full version, you finally get the widget and... As usual, it happens that the widget probably doesn't integrate into your website design, requiring a lot of work to add custom CSS, trying to style it in a coherent way with the rest of your styles. And last but not least, the English language is represented by the United States flag! Don't know why, after all, English is English and it was born in the UK. So, what to do? Well, we're going to build our custom language switcher.

What exactly do we need?

Let's see how Transposh works. When you click on the flag of a non-default language, Transposh reloads the page and changes its own aspect. As you can see, a checkbox appears immediately under the flags: checking it will reload the page in Edit mode. Depending on Transposh settings (leave them to default if you don't have any specific issue with this), every text in the page will have a small yellow button appended: clicking on that button will show a popup to edit the translation or just approve them (approved translations will have a green button instead of a yellow one)

So, summarizing, first, we have to provide our user with an easy and possibly beautiful way to switch between languages; secondly, we have to provide to administrators and editors a quick way to put the website in edit mode to fix translations' errors. To do this we will follow these steps:

  • we'll set some Wordpress setting
  • we'll upload to our Wordpress installation the flags' images we need
  • we'll install a couple of plugins
  • we'll write a bit of code

Custom language switcher step by step

Step 1: Wordpress settings

First, as I said before, go to Settings->Permalink and set it to Post name (%postname%).

Then, go to Appearance->Menus, open Screen options clicking on the top-right tab and check the CSS Classes checkbox as shown in the image below.

Step 2: The Flags

First, we need to get our flag icons. Just google a bit and you'll find a lot of free flag icons sets: choose your favourite one, download it and upload the flags to your website using the Media section of Wordpress dashboard. In this article, I'll use three flags, English, Spanish (because I live in Spain) and Italian (because I'm from Italy), but obviously feel free to use the flags you really need to use.

Step 3: Some Plugins

In order to use our flags, we're going to use a couple of useful plugins (even these ones are totally free).

Plugin 1: Menu Icon by ThemeIsle

This small adorable plugin ( allows you yo set any icon or image you want to associate it to a menu item. The plugin allows to choose if the menu item text must be visible or hidden, so we can add to our menu the 3 flags quickly and easily. That's all for now.

Plugin 2: If Menu

Now we have to add another menu item to switch on or off the option to edit the translation if we are not to happy with it. This function works out of the box with Transposh widget but since we're not using it we'll have to implement it manually.

Technically, the If Menu plugin is not strictly necessary: I use it because I don't want visitors to be able to change the website text as they want and I suppose that the majority of you will do the same. The "If Menu" plugin allows us to add a conditional logic so you can show or hide single menu items depending on the user's role.

Step 4: Building the Menu

Okay, now we're ready to build our menu. Go to Appearance->Menus.

Settings for the Menu Icon

When you are in the Menu section, you'll see a new element in Add menu items left sidebar: Menu Icon Settings. Open it, uncheck the pre-selected option Dashicons (we don't need it) and check the Images option like in the image below.

Then switch to the Current Menu tab and set Hide Label to Yes. Finally, just Save Settings!

Once we have completed these preliminary tasks, we can start to add menu items to our menu.

Adding the language switcher's menu items

We'll add 3 menu items with the flags to allow users to switch between our three supported languages. Then we'll add a fourth item to enable/disable translation editing (for this menu item we'll use the conditional logic offered by the If Menu plugin. For each menu item, we'll use Custom links.

The image below shows you how to set the menu item for your default language (in our case it will be English). Choose Custom links as Menu item type, type the base URL of your website as URL and 'en' (without quotes) as the Link text.

Yes, it's true! I'm implementing a multilanguage feature for this blog writing this article: thrilling, isn't it? Okay, now the menu item should look like this:

There is a row which says Icon: Select. Click on Select to upload your flag (or to select it from you Media library if you had already uploaded it).


Do you see the Union Jack? Now, in the input box CSS Classes (optional) type 'no_translate' (again, without quotes).

Do the same for each language you want to use. The only thing you have to change is the URL in your Custom link: add '/it' for Italian, '/es' for Spanish and so on...

Save your menu and take a look at your website: it is already a multi-language website!

Creating the "Edit mode" menu item

But automatic translations are often poor, so we need a way to change and correct them. To do this, we'll add a new Custom link to our menu: I called it Edit on/off. We won't put anything in URL field and we'll have to check the ' Enable visibility rules ' checkbox to make this item visible only to Administrators and to Editors. In addition, we have to add the class '.edit-translation' which we'll use to handle the click event and enable the edit mode.

Note: This menu item will appear only when you browse the website in a secondary language: Transposh is smart enough to know that there is no translation to fix for the default language.

But this item has no URL, so it won't do anything... To make it works we have to write a bit of javascript.

Step 5: A bit of coding

So we have our main menu with 3 flags (that already work fine: just give it a try) and the Edit on/off item to enable the manual editing of the translated text; this last menu item will only be visible if the user is logged in as Administrator or Editor.

But in order to make this menu item work correctly, we need to add some javascript. Run your editor code of choice and create a new file; then write in this code:

jQuery(document).ready(function($) {    
    var urlParam = function (name) {
        var results = new RegExp('[\?&]' + name + '=([^&#]*)').exec(;
        return (results !== null) ? results[1] || 0 : false;

    $(document).on('click', '.edit-translation', function(e){
        var currentOrigin = window.location.origin;
        var currentPath = window.location.pathname;
        var param = urlParam('tpedit');
        var newUrl = '';
        if (param === false){
            newUrl = currentOrigin + currentPath+'?tpedit=1';
            $(this).attr('href', newUrl);
            newUrl = currentOrigin + currentPath;
            $(this).attr('href', newUrl);
        window.location.href = newUrl;

Quick explanation: when the user clicks on our menu item 'Edit on/off', first we prevent the default event, reloading the current page. Then the code uses window.location.origin and window.location.pathname to get current base URL and current path.

For instance, if we are in currentOrigin will be whereas currentPath will be /how-to-use-custom-flags-languages-switcher-with-transposh/. But if we were in, currentPath would be /es/how-to-use-custom-flags-languages-switcher-with-transposh/.

Once we have the components of the current URL we check if the string 'tpedit' is present in the URL as a parameter.

This parameter is used by Transposh to enable edit mode for translations: when you use the widget and check the Edit translation checkbox the page is reloaded with the param 'tpedit=1' appended to the URL. So we have to check if we are in edit mode: if we are, we create a new URL using only currentOrigin and currentPath and we redirect the browser to this URL (that is we reload the page removing the param 'tpedit'); otherwise, we build the new URL appending the param 'tpedit=1' and reload the page in edit mode.

Now save the file with the name you prefer: I'll use the name 'myscript.js' because I've no time to waste thinking to a nicer name :)

Now we have to upload this file into our theme folder, preferably in a subfolder called 'js'. By the way, I strongly recommend you to use a child theme because any change you do to the theme files will be lost when the theme will be updated (if you don't know what is a child theme you can read this: Beginners-Guide to Wordpress

 To easily create a child theme from your current theme you can use the plugin Child Theme Configurator).

Step 6: Loading our script

Now we have to modify the file functions.php in order to load our script. The code to be used is slightly different depending on whether you use a child theme or not.

If you are using a child theme (recommended) you have to add to you functions.php the following code:

function load_custom_javascript() {
     wp_enqueue_script( 'myscript', //script name
        get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/js/myscript.js', //complete path to the file
        array('jquery'), //array of dependencies
        '', //version number
        true //put script in footer
 add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'load_custom_javascript' );

If you love to live dangerously and you're not using a child theme, just replace get_stylesheet_directory_uri() with get_template_directory_uri().

One step more…

Currently, when the user clicks on a flag to change the language, our code will load the home page in the selected language. What about if we wanted to reload the current page, giving our visitor a better browsing experience?
To achieve this we have to make some changes to both our menu and javascript code.

a) The menu
In the Wordpress dashboard go to Appearence→Menus and expand the menu item we use for the default language. First, replace the URL with the hashtag symbol #: we’ll write some javascript code to set the new url the user will be brought to. Then we have to add a couple of classes to manage the click() event; in the CSS class box, where we had added the no_translate class, add these 2 classes: flag and flag_en. Actually, we could skip avoiding the latter for the default language, but… Okay, I love the symmetry, so I added that class to the default language item too 😎

Do the same for any other language switcher item you have in your menu. In our example they were Spanish and Italian: to the former add the classes flag and flag_es, for the latter add the classes flag and flag_it.
Don’t forget to replace each URL with the hashtag symbol.
With the menu we have done. Let’s going on!

b) The javascript

Now we have to add an event handler to our script in order to manage the click() event on our language switchers.
Here there is the fully commented code you have to add to your script:

jQuery(document).on('click', '.flag', function (e) {
  //first we prevent the default click event 
  /*next we declare the variable selectedLang and we give it a value 
  accordingly to its CSS class*/
  var selectedLang = '';
  if (jQuery(this).hasClass('flag_es')) {
    selectedLang = 'es';
  } else if (jQuery(this).hasClass('flag_it')) {
    selectedLang= 'it' 
  /* the variable newUrl will hold the url the user will be redirected to*/
  var newUrl = '';
  /*in the supportedLang we put supported languages except the default language: this because for the default language no prefix is added to the URL by Transposh. We also add a final slash but don't worry: I'll explain why soon :)*/
  var supportedLang = ['es/', 'it/'];
  /*in currentUrl variable will put the full url of the current page
  var currentUrl = window.location.href;
  /*window.location.origin give us the base url, in our example
  var currentOrigin = window.location.origin;
  /*window.location.pathname gives us the rest of the currentUrl,
  i.e. /it/how-to-cook-fried-eggs*/
  var currentPath = window.location.pathname;
  /*the second and the third character of the currentPath will but we want event the fourth to be sure it be a slash. Why? Okay, suppose we are in our default language and we are reading an article called "estimation-of-non-liear-equation-system". The currentUrl would be and the currentPath would be /estimation-of-non-liear-equation-system; so, if we used only the second and the third character to get current language we'd get 'es' while we are in the English section of the website! So we take even the fourth character and then we'll use this value to see if it is in the supported languages array*/
  var currentLang = currentPath.substring(1, 4);
  /*then we want to save in a variable the current page without any language prefix*/
  var currentPage = jQuery.inArray(currentLang, supportedLang) != -1 ? currentPath.substring(3, currentPath.length) : currentPath;
  /*finally we can build the url the user will be redirected to checking currentLang and selectedLang values; this code is quite self-explanatory*/
  if (jQuery.inArray(currentLang, supportedLang) !== -1 && jQuery.inArray(selectedLang +'/', supportedLang) !== -1){ 
    newUrl = currentOrigin + '/' + selectedLang + currentPage; 
  } else if (jQuery.inArray(currentLang, supportedLang) !== -1 && jQuery.inArray(selectedLang +'/', supportedLang) === -1) {
    newUrl = currentOrigin + currentPage;
  } else if (jQuery.inArray(currentLang, supportedLang) === -1 && jQuery.inArray(selectedLang +'/', supportedLang) !== -1) {
    newUrl = currentOrigin + '/' + selectedLang + currentPage; 
  } else if (jQuery.inArray(currentLang, supportedLang) === -1 && jQuery.inArray(selectedLang +'/', supportedLang) === -1) {
    newUrl = currentUrl;
  window.location.href = newUrl;

This way, when the user will click to a flag to change the website language, the current page will be reloaded in the selected language instead of redirecting the user to the home page.

That's all. Hope this tutorial will be helpful for you.

Marco GasiFreelancer
Freelance, I like to share what I know. Find out my articles in my learner-to-learners blog

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