Change Languages in Windows 8 on Surface Tablets

How many languages do you speak in your home? For Joanna and I the answer is 2 1/2ish. She was born and raised in Poland and we’re both trying to learn Spanish. So, we’ve been occasionally changing the language and location settings on our Surface tablets.

We thought it might be good to share what we’ve learned about changing languages on the Surface tablets in case others needed to do the same thing. In general, it’s pretty simple but there are a few gotchas and things you probably need to know about before you start.

Change Languages in Windows 8: Important Notes

Before we get into how to change the languages, there’s a few things you probably need to know.

  • The language will change only for the user who makes the change, not for all users of the Surface. This means each user can have a different language. It also means that if you want to change the language for all of the users, you’ll have to do it for each of them but any installs after the first for a particular language won’t have to re-download the files (hope that all made sense)
  • Each language you install will take up disk space. Korean, for example, takes up about 700MB of space. Also, simply removing a language from the language options doesn’t delete the files. So you probably don’t want to install a dozen languages just because you can

Change Languages in Windows 8: Video Walkthrough

If you’re the type that would like a video to show you the steps in action, this part is for you. After viewing it, you can find the step-by-step instructions below.

Change Languages in Windows 8: Step-By-Step

OK, now let’s change the language of your Surface. In this example, I’m going with Ecuadorian Spanish (we’re planning a trip) but, you could use a different language as the steps are pretty much identical.

  • Log into the Account where you want to change the language
  • Go to PC Settings (bring up the charms bar, tap Settings then, Change PC settings at the bottom of the screen)
  • On the PC Settings screen, select Time and Language

  • Select Region and language then Add a language from the Time and Language settings page

  • Select a language from the list. When you do so, you may get another page (like below) of regional selections.

  • You’ll be brought back to the Time and language page. You might have thought that would install the language files but it doesn’t. To get the language pack to install, you need to select it from the list then tap Options

  • On the Language Options page, tap Download. This will take a while to download and install. Perhaps as long as 10 minutes depending on your connection. Once it’s done, you’ll see the screen below

Tap the back arrow in the upper left corner to get back to the time and language screen.

  • Tap the back arrow in the upper left corner to get back to the time and language screen.
  • Select the language again then tap Set as Primary

  • To get the change to take effect, you’ll need to either sign out and back in or restart your Surface

That’s it. when you get logged back into your Surface, many things will be in your new language. For example, here’s my new Metro home screen. Notice “Start” has been replaced with Incio, The date and Charms menus are now in Spanish as well.

Change Languages in Windows 8

I hope this post helps you easily change the language settings on your Surface. It’s really kind of a cool thing to be able to do in the event you are an international traveler.

As usual, if you have questions or comments, please let me know.


Kent Beck

Kent Beck link to his wiki

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