[Mac OS X] Easily switch between the alphabets of different languages with Transliteration

Screen shot 2013-05-18 at 9.39.22 AMI took two semesters of Japanese in college, and it was so much fun. But one thing that was challenging was getting used to an entirely new system of writing. I was big into Japanese pop music back then, even before I took the class, so I would find transliterated lyrics online so I could sing along. Even though it sounds like a made up word to most people, transliteration is a great way to bridge linguistic and cultural gaps. Not everyone has the time, inclination, or ability to master an entirely new alphabet. If you have the need to transliterate some foreign text, the app called, concisely enough, Transliteration, can help you out of a jam.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Transliteration is an automated system for inputting a word in one language, and receiving the word back in an alphabet that you can read. This is a great way to figure out how to pronounce words in a language with an unfamiliar alphabet.


  • Super-simple user interface
  • Takes up very little space on your hard drive
  • PLIST-files with simple syntax allow defining your own rules


  • Lacks support for any Asian languages whatsoever (Note: the developers state on the App Store page for this program that they will make updates in the future editions of this app.”Just e-mail us your PLISTs, and we’ll include them in future versions of Transliteration.”
  • Hasn’t been updated since 2012
  • Currently only supports Russian-Latin, Serbian-Latin, Hebrew-Latin, Ladino-Hebrew, Greek-Latin, Georgian-Latin and Julius Caesar rules
  • You can make the window bigger, but not the text itself: a problem because the default font size is kind of on the small size, and would be especially hard for some older users/visually impaired users to parse out


mzl.iglnwptz.800x500-75Transliteration works great for the most part.  The interface is super simple, and the output is pretty accurate. Here are there (particularly in Greek), you might get a few characters that don’t get properly transliterated because they include “superscript” characters like diacritic marks or accent markings. If you have a passing familiarity with these languages, you may know how to account for these characters and their pronunciations.

Overall, I think the UI is to be commended. One thing that I would like to see improved is the ability to change the size of the fonts being displayed: you really do need to squint at times to get the full picture. However, the window can be resized, which is great if you’re trying to transliterate large blocks of text.

Now, the developers do state they they offer PLIST-files with simple syntax allow users to definite own rules. A user could then, in theory, email those PLIST files to the developers, who would then upgrade the app to the benefit of everybody else. But considering the app is coming up on one full year since the last update, it’s not clear whether people could actually send in these PLIST files and see an updated version of the app.

Conclusion and download link

If you need transliteration support for Greek, Hebrew, Russian, or Serbian, this app can help! It has a simple interface, and is pretty easy to use. Give it a try!

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 2.3.0

Supported OS: OS X 10.6.6 or later

Download size: 0.3 MB

Transliteration on Mac App Store

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