Thursday, July 16, 2009

Using browser software in English in Thailand

Fix your Google boo boos

Published: 15/07/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Database

Recently I wrote about troubles with Google throwing Thai-language pages and menus at me - and many of you responded with similar complaints. Google looks at your IP address, figures out you're in Thailand, and wants to be helpful by giving you Thai pages. Every time I type in, I get sent to, the Thai version of the page. You have to fight with your web browser to get it to go to Also, there are some Google products like the photo program Picasa, that sometimes default to Thai language menus.

For an English version of Picasa, go to and click ‘‘Download’’.

If you were a Thai person, this would probably just exactly what you'd want. But many of surfing the waves in Bangkok are not Thai speakers and we can't even make sense enough of the menus to figure out how to switch them to English.

But, enough complaining. Many of you wrote, offering suggestions and ideas, so I thought it would be helpful to revisit this topic and share those suggestions with you.

If you can get to, you will see off to the right of the search area three links called "Advanced Search", "Preferences" and "Language Tools". Click on "Preferences". Google says: "Global Preferences (changes apply to all Google services)". The very first one is language. In English, it says: "Display tips and messages in ..." and then there's a drop-down box where you can specify the language. Once you've got it in English, click on "Save Preferences" in the upper right corner.

I've found that this will usually fix the problem - but not always.

Ian wrote to say: "I have come up against two of the problems you described in your column. First the matter of Google appearing in Thai. I have solved the problem by (in Firefox at least) going to Tools/Options/Privacy/Accept Cookies/Exceptions/ BLOCK and ALLOW. Make sure when you clear private data you do not clear cookies or you will be back to square one."

Andrew says: "Another case in point is Mozilla Firefox. Try to download the thing from Thailand and you will not only get the Thai web page, but it will default to the Thai language version for installation. Somewhere on the download page is a link (tiny and not very obvious) that says something about 'other systems and languages'. My wife recently wanted to install this on her computer, but didn't want the Thai menus. I had to spend about 20 minutes before I could actually get the program downloaded in English (using an English language web page).

"As for Google changing menu languages on you, I notice this goes on when I use Firefox and 'clear private data' on close. I think you are eliminating a cookie that Google puts on your machine."

I'm not one of those paranoid people who clear out their Internet history every time they use the machine, so it can't be the elimination of a cookie. But then, who knows? I do have various clean-up programs and one of them might have deleted all my cookies automatically.

Andrew goes on to say: "As a follow-up, I went back onto the Firefox download page and found that it has changed. In the upper right hand corner there is a link to in English. When you click on it, you go to the US website and a US English download.

"The problem is that the link itself is in Thai (except for Presumably they are using local website designers who haven't figured out the problem.

"I can't figure out the logic of putting a link to the English language website only in Thai. This also seems to apply only if one goes through a Google search to get to the download; other methods seem to start in the US website."

David says: "Save yourself from changing between languages all the time. Change your regional settings to an English country such as England, Canada, the US or Australia. Problem solved, happy surfing!"

Robert adds: "Using the URL of from Thailand or anywhere else always takes you to the English language page.

"Of course, you need to know how to use advanced search vs ordinary search but it is straightforward.

"Regarding the Google preferences not staying set, I find that if you stay logged into your Google or Gmail account and never log out, the preferences seem to stay as you set them up.

"Also, you can't use any non-selective cookie cleaners because the preferences are stored in cookies on your PC. Also the cookies expire after a few months so you have to use your Google or Gmail account now and then to keep them refreshed."

Ron adds: "I think the problem with the Google language switching is the cookies. I understand it looks first at the IP address and then reads the cookie and if your cookie has been deleted or somehow changed by something mysterious like perhaps a Google Thai search it will revert back to the IP address language which, of course, is Thai."

Colin wrote to say: "I've just been reading your article in the Post this morning regarding Google's Thai menus, and wonder if you're aware of their workaround for us expats. I contacted them some time ago about this, and was advised to use as the URL.

"It gives you a generic English search menu from any country, though I'm not sure how to deal with their other apps that use Thai by default. Enjoy!"

That remains one of the problems, those other applications, like Picasa. Sometimes it's just a matter of paying attention during the installation process, even during the downloading process. Click on the wrong link and you'll download the Thai version of the program instead of the English version.

In general, as far as menus are concerned, I agree with what was said above: go to "Regional Settings" under the Control Panel, and switch your country to an English-speaking one. That should clear up most problems.

'Til next time.

Interesting people may write to Gotfried K. at

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