How-To Mac Apps

Don’t waste precious disk space! Delete unnecessary language files with Monolingual

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When your Mac is running low on memory, you’ll do anything to free up some disk space, but have you ever considered deleting unnecessary language files?

Even if you’re bilingual, chances are you only ever use your Mac in one language, so why do you need to have a tonne of language files cluttering up your hard drive? If you’ve followed all of our advice on how to free up disk space, and you’re still getting low memory warnings, then in this article I’ll show you how to reclaim several hundred megabytes, by deleting unnecessary language files.


Meet Monolingual!

Monolingual is an application that can help you identify and remove unnecessary language files. By default, Monolingual checks your Mac’s ‘System preferences > Language & Region’ settings and then suggests you delete all the files associated with languages that aren’t marked as your ‘preferred languages.’ Before you begin, you may want to check your Mac’s Language & Region settings, just to make sure your preferred language settings are correct.

To install Monolingual:

  • Head over to the project’s GitHub. Monolingual is free to download, but if you enjoy using the app then you may want to consider donating to the developer.
  • Find the most recent release, and click its accompanying .dmg file.
  • Launch your newly-downloaded .dmg file.
  • In the subsequent window, drag the Monolingual icon to your ‘Applications’ folder.
  • Navigate to your ‘Applications’ folder, and launch Monolingual.

If you encounter a warning that Monolingual cannot be opened as it’s from an unidentified developer, then:

  • Select the ‘Apple’ logo from your Mac’s menu bar.
  • Navigate to ‘System preferences… > Security & Privacy.’
  • Click the little padlock icon in the bottom-left of the screen, and enter your admin password when prompted.
  • Read the warning, and if you’re happy to proceed then click ‘Open anyway.’

Do you use Adobe apps?

Before you start deleting language files, just be aware that Adobe’s apps have a self-heal feature that checks for the existence of certain files, and will refuse to launch if one of these files is missing – and this includes language files.

If you do use any Adobe apps, then you should explicitly instruct Monolingual to exclude these applications:

  • Launch Monolingual, if you haven’t already.
  • Select ‘Monolingual > Preferences…’ from the menu bar.
  • Click the little ‘+’ icon.

  • Navigate to the application that you want to exclude, select it, and then click ‘Open.’
  • Rinse and repeat for every application that you want Monolingual to ignore.

Reclaim that wasted disk space

Once Monolingual is up and running, removing unwanted language files is easy: simply work your way down the list, selecting or deselecting languages based on whether you want to delete the files related to those languages.

By default, Monolingual will select all the languages that aren’t listed in your Mac’s ‘System preferences > Language & Region’ section, but it’s still a good idea to review each language, as accidentally deleting the only language you speak can render your Mac unusable! Also, be aware that some language packs are a subset of other language packs, for example ‘English (United States)’ is a subset of ‘English.’

Once you’re happy with your selection, click the ‘Remove…’ button.

About the author

Jessica Thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Sheffield. She writes about Android, Java, Kotlin and all things Apple. She is the co-author of O'Reilly's "iWork: The Missing Manual," and the author of "Android UI Design," from Packt Publishing.

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