How to localize an iOS app programmatically (made easy)

Federica Benacquista
5 min readJun 9, 2021

Sometimes we want our apps to support multiple languages to reach a higher audience.

This is when we turn to localization.

Localization vs Internationalization in CS

  • Localization is the process of adapting the software to support different languages, time zones, and respect laws and cultures of different regions and locales
  • Internationalization is the process of designing a software that meets the needs of the users all around the world, for instance: designing an app that adapts to the RTL languages.

Localization is about the content.

Internationalization is about the UI.

Localizing our app

Localizing our app consists of 2 basic steps:

  • Creating strings that can be localized (NSLocalizedString);
  • Physically localizing and translating our strings;

Creating strings that can be localized

In order to localize strings, we have to use NSLocalizedString.

We declare a NSLocalizedString like this:

let hello = NSLocalizedString("hello", comment: "greeting")

Where the first string (hello) is the one we want to be displayed and the second (“greeting”) is the description of the first.

It’s clear that when we have a medium/big sized project the process of writing all those NSLocalizedString s is so ANNOYING! Especially when the meaning of the string is so obvious or we just don’t care about giving it a descriptive comment.

So, in those cases I like helping myself by using the following String extension :

localize is an attribute we can call on String instances to transform them in NsLocalizedString with both content and comment set to self , therefore, set to the string we call it on. What I just said, translated to code is much easier. It looks like this:

let helloStr = "Hello!".localize //helloStr now contains…

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Federica Benacquista

I’m a self taught iOS developer and soon to be entrepreneur. I like to explain tricky concepts as easily as possible and it’s exactly what I do here.