Chrome icon on a Windows desktop

Google Translate makes it easier to peruse the web without running into the language barrier, but sometimes the all-or-nothing approach of Google Chrome’s built-in Translate integration can be the wrong way to handle it. Now, Google Chrome is preparing the ability to translate selected text.

As spotted by Leopeva64 on Reddit, Google Chrome is currently testing out a new ability to translate “partial” text on a webpage. Specifically, it will be able to translate text highlighted on the page by the user.

Today, Chrome has built-in translation, but it applies to the page as a whole, rather than just bits on the page. This generally works out fine, but may not be ideal for pages that only have certain portions in another language.

It also only works in a single language, translating pages from whatever language is displayed to the user’s preferred, but single language.

A new “bubble” UI in Google Chrome appears in the omnibox (address bar) and can translate text as it is selected on the page. This can be accessed either by pressing that button in the omnibox, or right-clicking the text and pressing “translate to.” The new UI also has an option to “translate full page.”

Right now, this isn’t a functional feature, as it doesn’t actually translate the text, but we can see where Google is going with this.

google translate partial chrome bubble

The other big perk to this revamped translation experience is that you can more easily switch between languages. As it stands today, changing the translation language requires digging into settings and adding more languages.

With this new experience, Google Chrome will present alternate languages front and center, with a full list of everything Google Translate has to offer in a scrolling list.

This feature is live – but not functional, as mentioned – in the latest Chrome Canary update. It should make its way to stable builds over time, but it remains to be seen exactly when.

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Ben Schoon

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