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Useful German Words for Computer Use

If you find yourself on a German website or even a computer with German settings, knowing some computer-related vocabulary might help you avoid needing to immediately translate the webpage or find a new computer. You may be surprised that you already know quite a few words for using a computer in Germany, even if you’re never done so before. Take a look at these and see how many you recognize:

Apollo next to my computer

der Browser
Bcc
CC
das E-mail
das FAQ
die Homepage
das Icon
das Internet
der Internetprovider
der Links
der Monitor
der Text
die Website
das (World Wide) Web

I assume these are all words and abbreviations you’ve seen before in English, and they’re all the same except that some of them have a gender and some are one word that would be two words in English. [Note: Although some of these may appear the same for computer use, there may be a different way to refer to them when speaking German. For example, the CC and Bcc are used in German email, and these stand for carbon copy and blind carbon copy, respectively, but the actual German words for these are die Email-Kopie and die Blindkopie. Similarly das World Wide Web might also be called das weltweites Netz.]

Beyond the words that are exactly the same, there are also some that are quite close. In this list below I’ll write the German word with the English equivalent in parentheses, but I would be surprised if you even needed the English to understand most of the words.

Internet/surf/chat/mail

chatten (to chat)
die Datenbank (databank)
das Datum (date)
der Favoriten (favorites)
klicken (to click) and doppelclicken (to double click)
die Maus (mouse)
das Menü (menu) [Note: only used when referring to a computer menu. A restaurant menu is die Speisekarte.]
das Passwort (password)
senden (to send)
surfen (to surf [the Net])
die Webseite (web page)

That’s actually a pretty good base, right? Here are some more words that might not be as familiar but which you may see on your screen:

Gmail login screen. Password/Sign in/Do you need help?/Sign in with another account

der Benutzer (user) or das Konto (account)
anmelden (sign in) or abmelden (sign off)
einloggen (log on) or ausloggen (log off)
suchen (search) on die Suchmaschine (search engine)
weiter (forward) or zurück (back)
an (to) or von (from)
fertig stellen (done/OK)
der Fehler (error) or Zugriff verweigert! (access denied!)
die Hilfe (help) or fehler beheben (troubleshoot)

Here are some actions you might want to take, listed with the English word first and then the German:

cut (ausschneiden) or paste (eifügen)
download (herunterladen) or upload (hochladen)
print (drucken) [Note: You make also recognize this as the word for press/push at crosswalks and on doors.]
replace (ersetzen)
reply to sender (antworten), reply to all (allen antworten), or forward (weiterleiten).
save (speichern)

Here are some things you might want to look for or refer to on the computer, listed in English with the German translation.

An open Papierkorb (recycle bin) with the icon for it down in the corner.

attachment (die Anlage)
file (die Detei)
folder (der Ordner)
new message (die Neue Nachtrich)
recycle bin (der Papierkorb)
tools (das Extras)
word processing (die Textverarbeitung)

This is far from an exhaustive list of computer-related words, but hopefully knowing these things will help you feel more comfortable the next time you find yourself on a German website or using a computer with German settings. If you’re on a German site you just can’t navigate, first see if you can change the language. This is usually denoted by flags in a corner of the screen (often in the top right). Sometimes you’ll see an American flag, but most often you’ll need to click on the United Kingdom flag. If that’s not an option, you might use a site translator. I find GoogleTranslate is decent most of the time.

If it’s a site that you’d normally visit in English (like Google.com) and you have automatically been taken to the German version, look for an option to go to the English site. With Google.de, that’s in the bottom right corner. If you can’t find it, sometimes it works to change the site address. For example, when making a purchase using paypal.com I was directed to paypal.de. Rather than start my whole purchase over, I swapped out the de for com and hit enter. It switched my order to the English site without losing anything and has taken me to the English site since. If that doesn’t work, try a different browser. Even though Firefox took me to the the German site when I typed Paypal.com, it went to the English one when I started from a shop on an English site. Bis später!

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2 Thoughts on “Useful German Words for Computer Use

  1. This really is helpful! 🙂 I have some German programs on my laptop and David never knows what to do with them. 🙂

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