Setting text language in Office Online

Some people don’t wish to use the default English (U.S.) as their preferred language for Office Online when they create new documents there. Interestingly, you can change the option but it doesn’t seem to work for all languages. Here’s how to change the setting, but it has limitations.

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In my case, my production tenant is set up in Australia. The language I use everywhere is English (Australia). You would think that this applies to any new document created using Office Online. Not so, it seems. If I create a new Word document using the web interface as shown above, I get:

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but if you look in the lower left you see:

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If you click on the language text you get:

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Here I can select English (Australia) as my language. Now my document reports:

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All good right? Sure, until you create a new document using Office Online. You are then back to original language. In my case  English (U.S.) not English (Australia)! I don’t want to be changing the language manually for every new document I create with Office Online. How do I therefore make my preferred language ‘stick’ with Office Online?

As far I can tell, to make a different language ‘stick’ for a user when they use Office Online they will need to do the following:

1. Login to the Microsoft 365 portal (https://portal.office.com) with their own credentials.

2.  Select their Account Manager icon in the top right of the portal window like so:

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3. From the menu that appears select My Office profile like so:

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4. Select the Update profile button the Delve page like so:

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5. On the Update your profile page, locate and select How can I change language and region settings? as shown:

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6. This reveal a new line that includes a hyperlink on the word “here” as shown below, which you need to select. Note the additional instructions it also gives you – click the ellipse (…) and then choose Language and Region.

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7. As the previous instructions detailed, on the Edit Details page select the ellipse (…) like so:

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8. From the items that are displayed, select Language and Region as previously directed:

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9. Select the option to Show Advanced Language Settings as shown:

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10. Select the Pick a new language for both of the selection boxes displayed like so:

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11. It is at this point that not all options are accepted it turns out. In my case if I select English (Australia), the Office Online documents continue to open with English (U.S.). As it turns out, the best I can do in my case is set the language to English (United Kingdom) and then select the Add button like so:

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If you want another language, you’ll probably have to try a few to see whether they ‘stick’.

12.  My end result looks like:

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You’ll also need to either remove the existing language (as I have done, so English (U.S.) no longer appears) or change the priority of the language added, via the up/down arrows on the right of the language, and place it at the top of list to make it the default.

13. Scroll to the bottom of the page and make sure you select Save all and close to update your preferences:

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14. Lastly, you’ll need to wait about 15 minutes or so it seems for this to take effect.

If you now open a new Office Online document, you should now see the selected language as default like so:

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Phew, that’s a lot of work isn’t it? It may not be English (Australia) but it is now much closer to that than what it used to be. Remember, that each individual who wants their language changed for Office Online will need to complete these steps.

Next challenge, how to script it with PowerShell for bulk deployment? Not sure I want to go down that rabbit hole. We’ll see. Let me know if you’d find value in a script to make these changes across your tenant.

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