The Translorial Tool Kit

By Jost Zetzsche © 2007 International Writers’ Group, compiled by Yves Avérous

The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season. If you would like to subscribe to The Tool Kit, visit and mention Translorial during the subscription process; Jost will put your name in a drawing for one free Tool Box book per edition.

Time to explore

Anne Vincent reminded me that I haven’t encouraged you lately to spend a few minutes every day in your program of choice, clicking through menus (and the ever-present Options dialog box) to learn some new techniques and tricks. Thanks for reminding me, Anne. Note to everyone: Consider yourself encouraged!

Most of us can’t sit for eight or ten hours straight doing translation, and while it may be a very good idea to do something computer-unrelated during your breaks, a five-minute break to find something intriguing about your current application might actually end up saving you ten or more minutes at the end of the day.

And, yes, of course, there are some of us who tend to go off the trail when one thing leads to another, and we waste a lot of time in the process. But if you’re one of those already, then I assume you don’t have to be encouraged in the first place!

Interesting contrasts

And while we’re talking about Windows, is a great site where you can compare all kinds of things regarding Windows with their counterparts on the Mac. Though it’s not 100% objective (it tends to be Mac-biased), it is still an interesting site. I don’t need to mention that this site does not deal with translation-related issues, such as support for TEnTs (the very reason why I mostly deal with Windows), but still it’s fun and interesting to walk through.

Office wars intensify

It looks like more and more companies are trying to challenge Microsoft’s dominance in the Office market, including some companies that you wouldn’t have really expected to enter the field.

I mentioned in my newsletter that IBM had released its free and elegantly styled Lotus Symphony office suite (, after Google had already released StarOffice, the commercial counterpart to the suite. (By the way, I did find two drawbacks with Symphony: It installs a “pre-launcher” for its productivity tools every time you start Windows, which is not a very polite thing if you intend to only use the suite every once in a while. Fortunately you can turn it off under File> Preferences> Productivity Tools. In addition, it also overwrites the default associations of .odt, .odp, and .ods files from OpenOffice to its own program—also not a nice thing to do without first asking the user’s permission.)

More recently, Adobe—yes, the Adobe of Acrobat, FrameMaker, Flash, and InDesign—announced that it has pur-chased Buzzword, an online word processor for collaboration purposes. This, by the way, in the same week that Microsoft announced that it also has extended its online collaboration for corporate versions of MS Office. I personally think that these competitive releases are much more interesting than, let’s say, the “browser wars,” which in effect have very little to do with our daily work routines as translators.

And just to make sure that you don’t misunderstand what I’m saying—this newsletter is being written in MS Word, and I have nothing against Microsoft Office in principle. In fact, I think it’s an admirably customizable suite of programs. It’s just that I think that competition is a very good thing.

Some helpful tools

Several months ago, Lee Wright sent me the link to which contains a list of a number of helpful freeware tools. For each of these features there are also a great number of other tools with similar functionality or completely different approaches, but these still look like great free tools.

PrintFolder is a little tool that allows you to print or save a list of files located in any folder. This is nice if you need to verify a list of translatable files, or if you would like to have a hard copy of a list that you can manually check off file by file.

SetFileDate can be used to alter the time and date of one or more selected files or folders — great if you would prefer your clients not to know that you worked on their files until the early morning.

And ScreenGrab is a screenshot program. There are many, many other programs that do the same thing—and possibly in a more advanced fashion—but this one is for free and that’s hard to beat.

Here is another tool that is also free and really saved me recently: The Windows Installer Clean Up utility is a free download from Microsoft that fixes errors that may have been caused by an erroneous installation which could, for instance, result in your inability to uninstall the application again. You can find good information and the download links at