Working in different languages in Office 365

Sometimes, there's a need to work in a different language.  Often, the driving factor is to support  users in different locales.  So, how do you configure the language in for your favourite Office 365 apps?  Turns out the answer is not so simple.

In my tests, I have narrowed down the language configuration to four areas:
To see where things are set, I have configured my environment as follows:
  • Operating System - English
  • Browser - Spanish
  • Office 365 - Hebrew
  • Delve - German
While not exhaustive, I have summarized my findings of which configuration sets the language for which app below.

App OS Browser Office 365 Delve
Admin Center Yes
Delve Yes Yes
PowerApps Studio Yes
PowerApps Language() Yes
SharePoint Site Collections (Default) Yes Yes
SharePoint sub sites (default) Yes Yes
Excel Online Intro Page Yes
Excel Online Workbook Yes
Word Online Intro Page Yes
Word Online Document Yes
Yammer Yes
Teams Online Yes Yes
Teams App Yes
OneNote Online Intro Page Yes
OneNote Online Document Yes
Outlook Online Yes Yes
OneDrive for Business Yes
Flow Studio Yes Yes
Planner Yes
Calendar Yes
Staffhub Yes
My Analytics Yes


There are a few considerations to mention around the language selection that may impact how you manage languages for your needs.

SharePoint Site Languages

When you create a new site collection, by default, no languages are selected and the site defaults to the Operating System language.  However, when a sub site is created, all languages are by default selected.

Cascading Settings

In some cases, setting more than one configuration can impact the language in which an app is displayed.  For SharePoint-based apps (SharePoint sites, Groups, OneDrive for Business), the language is controlled by two settings - Office 365 and Delve.  In the case, where both are set, these apps will take the Delve language configuration.  When not set, the apps will revert to the Office 365 language.  So, in my case, the Site Collections were showing up in English (operating system language), while the sub sites were showing up in German (Delve language).  Once I enabled the alternate languages in the site collections, then those sites also appeared in German.

Delayed Settings

Some settings don't take effect immediately.  In my test, it took as long as 15-20 minutes in some cases to see these changes.  So, when you're making changes and want to see if it works, give it some time. 

The order in which you set the language also matters.  In my testing, when setting the Office 365 language after the Delve language, I noticed that the Delve language is overwritten by the Office 365 language.

Conflicting Settings

In some apps, I noticed that different language configurations were impacting the apps at once.  In the case of Sway, the browser setting was taking over the general UI, while some of the default content was appearing using the Office 365 language.

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