Project Settings vs. Tools > Options – What’s the Difference?

I think one of the most confusing aspects in Studio is the way the basic settings are selected. Even some of the more experienced users have difficulties with this, not to mention those who are just starting to use Studio. Every time I train new individual users or teach workshops I think that I should write down the rules and exceptions and create a few screenshots not just to help me to explain the differences/similarities between Projects Settings and Tools > Options settings but also to help the students to see how these settings are connected. Believe it or not, there’s actually some “logic” in the settings, and understanding the logic will make it easier to find the right settings.

This ended up being a much longer article than I had planned, so if my explanations below are too much for you, see at least the summary at the end and the screenshots. That would be a good start.

Project settings

You can access Project settings in every Studio view via the Project menu (Project > Project Settings) and also in the Editor view via the Project Settings button which is above the Translation Results window. Project settings apply only to the active (current) project. Whatever you change here, won’t affect any of the future or other existing projects. (Note that “project” here refers to both “standard Studio projects” [= using the New Project command] and “single file projects” [= using the Open Document command] .) That’s quite simple and straightforward. However, there are two additional things to remember about project settings:

1. File Types: Most of the File Type settings control the conversion and extraction of source files to the SDLXLIFF format, for example whether comments, hidden text, worksheet names etc. are translated or how PDF files are converted, or how elements and attributes are handled in html files. In most cases the default settings work fine and you don’t need to worry about changing these settings. However, if any of these need to be changed it has to be done before the source file is converted (i.e. opened in Studio for the first time), otherwise they don’t have any effect. If you are creating a “single file project” you do this in the Open Document dialog box by selecting the Advanced button to access the File Type settings (see Figure 1 below).If you are creating a “standard Studio project” you do this on the Project Files page of the New Project wizard by clicking the File Types button (see Figure 2 below).

Note that when you select the Advanced button to access the File Type settings in the above example, it will take you to the Project Template Settings dialog box (which looks almost exactly like the Project Settings dialog box). Everything you change here will actually stay as part of your default project template and will affect all future projects unless you change the setting later in the Project Template Settings dialog box or in the Options dialog box. I’m not explaining the Project Template concept here but you can find more info about it here. Utilizing the templates can help you to streamline the process of creating projects, particularly if you have similar projects frequently.


Figure 1. Accessing File Type settings via the Open Document dialog box when creating a single file project.


Figure 2. Accessing File Type settings via the Project Files page when creating a standard Studio project.

So, what can you do if you have already created a project and then notice that you should have changed File Type settings? If you are working on a “standard Studio project” and need to change the settings, go to the Project Settings (> File Types), change the needed settings, and add the file again to the project (you might need to delete the previous file first or rename your new file in order to be able to add it to the project). Adding files to an existing project is another less than intuitive process but you can find the instructions here.  If you are working on a “single file project” and need to change the settings, you would need to create the project again and remember to change the settings when you are in the Open Document dialog box (Figure 1).

2. Language Pairs: The other source of confusion in Project Settings is the various language pairs listed under Language Pairs (see Figure 3). You should have there “All Language Pairs” and then at least one additional language pair. The settings under All Language Pairs are basically general settings that apply to all the language pairs of a project. If you want to change these settings independently for specific language pairs you would do it under the language pair in question. This way you could, for example, use different minimum match values or translation memory fields for different language pairs. However, since most of us are working with a single language pair per project, it’s simpler if you just make all the changes directly to the settings under your language pair (i.e. not the All Language Pairs option). That way you can be sure that they will take effect. Note, however, that the settings on the Translation Memory and Automated Translation page (i.e. TMs and their usage, such as Lookup, Concordance, etc.) can only be changed under All Language Pairs (they are grayed out under the individual language pairs). In addition, as you can see in Figure 3, Termbase settings are selected under All Language Pairs (because termbases are multilingual), and Auto-substitution and AutoSuggest Dictionaries settings are selected under each specific language pair only (because they are language-specific).

I could throw in a couple of other exceptions here but I’m going to spare you from that, and I’m not going to explain what happens if you have selected the Use different translation providers for this language pair option.

More info about Language Pair settings can be found here.


Figure 3. Comparison of settings under “All Language Pairs” and an individual language pair in Project Settings.

Tools > Options settings

The Options dialog box looks very much like the Project Settings dialog box which can be confusing but there are some clear differences when you look at them more closely. The Options dialog box navigation tree includes 12 setting categories. Three of them (File Types, Verification and Language Pairs) are the same as in the Project Settings dialog box. These are marked in Figure 4 with a blue frame. However, the difference is that if you change any of the settings under these three items in the Options dialog box, the changes will affect only your future projects – they do not have any effect on your current project. If you want the changes to apply to your current project you need to make the changes via the Project Settings page, as explained earlier. All the other nine items (i.e. Editor, AutoSuggest, Default Task Sequence, Translation Memories View, Colors, Keyboard Shortcuts, Automatic Updates, Home View, and Java Runtime Engine Startup) are NOT on the Project Settings page (as you can see in Figure 4) and will take effect immediately when you click OK, and will stay in effect until you change them. In other words, they will affect your active project as well as all future and past projects.

projsetting_toolsoptions - Copy

Figure 4. Comparison of Project Settings and Options settings. Identical parts are marked with a blue frame.


Confusing? Yes, but the short version of all this is actually quite simple:

1. Project Settings affect only your active project.
2. The three “shared” items in Tools > Options dialog box (File Types, Verification and Language Pairs) affect only future projects. These are your “global” settings for future projects. See Figure 4.
3. The other nine items in Tools > Options dialog box affect active, past and future projects. They are not really project settings but affect other, more general preferences, such as font sizes, color, spell checker, keyboard shortcuts, etc. that control how Studio functions, regardless of any project-specific settings.

When you add the language pairs to the mixture, it gets a bit more confusing:

1. Memories and their usage (Lookup, Concordance, etc.) are selected under All Language Pairs.
2. If you are working with just one language pair, it’s simpler if you make all the other TM-related changes (i.e. Search, Penalties, Filters and Update) under your language pair (rather than under All Language Pairs).
3. Termbase settings are selected under All Language Pairs (because termbases are multilingual). See Figure 3.
4. Auto-substitution and AutoSuggest Dictionaries settings are selected under each specific language pair (because they are language-specific). See Figure 3.

And some of the File Type settings add their own dimension to this confusion as well:

1. Most of the File Type settings control how source files are extracted and converted to the SDLXLIFF format, so if you want to change the conversion you need to change the settings accordingly beforehand. It’s too late after the file has already been converted (i.e. opened in Studio).

Still unsure about all this?

1. Go to Tools > Options. Review all the settings and change them so that they would be the most useful “global settings” for your work in general.  For example: Editor > Spelling, Font Adaptation, Auto-propagation, Languages; Verification > QA Checker 3.0; Language Pairs > All Language Pairs > Translation Memory and Automated Translation and select the TMs that you usually want to use. All the Editor settings will take effect immediately and the Verification and Language Pairs settings will take effect when you create the next project (single-file or standard).

2. If you need to modify any of the Verification or Language Pairs settings for an individual project, do that via the Project Settings dialog box.


13 Responses to “Project Settings vs. Tools > Options – What’s the Difference?”

  1. Reino Havbrandt Says:

    Thanks for the interesting blog posting! I have been planning to do a settings table for a long time, and now you gave me inspiration to do that! See:

  2. Luca Tutino Says:

    Thank you Tuomas! And also you Reino! I wish I had your contributions in 2010 when I had to sort it all out by myself as a proud early Trados user, without a decent User Manual around, and with the disturbance of Studio’s countless glitches and bugs!

    I still wonder if SDL created so much confusion just to put translators in jeopardy (after all the new Trados owners, as translation providers, are also our competitors), or because their programmers where not able to do some better planning in advance.

  3. yuzhi Says:

    very helpful, much appreciated!

  4. Sylvia D. Filipova Says:


    • Tuomas Says:

      What gets translated and what doesn’t is usually controlled via File Type settings, so it’s file type specific. However, there’s no setting there to exclude figures/graphics for any file types, as far as I know. If you have a Word file, then the best option would probably be to format all the non-translatable content in advance (in Word) with the Hidden font effect because all the content in a hidden font will be excluded from translation in Studio. Then you just change the font back to a normal font after translation.

  5. Those Project Settings! | multifarious Says:

    […] Project Settings vs. Tools > Options – What’s the Difference? […]

  6. Claudio Says:

    I have just installed Studio 2011 (I know, I’m a late buyer…). It works for everything I need, except the No bold, No italics and No underline buttons don’t appear on the QuickInsert bar. I know I can perform these actions by clicking the “Insert the QuickInsert items” button on the QuickInsert bar, and choosing one of these three items in the resulting menu, but I want to have them on the bar. I have read countless info on-line but I cannot crack it. When I am told to go to Tools, Options, File Types the information stops there. Can anybody please tell me each one of the steps until the last one? No need to spend too much of your time explaining the technical aspects around this issue. Many thanks.

    • Tuomas Says:

      Hi Claudio,

      Yes, you are a somewhat late buyer. 😉 Anyhow, the basic formatting buttons are in the toolbar which you probably have hidden right now. Otherwise you would have noticed it. The Studio interface has changed since the 2011 version but I dug up an old handout where I can see the toolbar. You should go to the View menu and select the formatting toolbar from there. Then it should stay visible.

      Or are you saying that you see the toolbar but some of the buttons are missing?

  7. Claudio Says:

    Thanks Tuomas.
    Yes, I see the toolbar (as shown in your picture) but the “No-bold”, “No-italic” and “No-underline” (those buttons crossed with a red line) are missing. I had them in my ‘ancient’ Studio 2009. After reading all that there is in Studio Help, I suspect that it has to do with the Files Types I am working with, I don’t know. There are very detailed instructions of how to insert buttons in that bar but the instructions don’t correspond to my Studio 2011 as I cannot find what they say. For example:
    1. Open the document in the Editor view.
    2. Click inside the target language segments to activate the toolbar.
    3. Click to display the QuickInsert settings.
    4. Click Add. [FROM HERE ON IT DOESN’T WORK, AS THERE IS NO “ADD” BUTTON IN MY BOX. INSTEAD, I SEE A BOX WITH FILE TYPES AND THE BUTTON “IMPORT SETTINGS” They also talk about the bar not having space for more than 10 buttons, etc.].
    But, as I am planning to install Studio 2014 soon (which I am supposed to have received for free when I purchased Studio 2011, that’s what SDL promised me), I may decide to give up on this issue about Studio 2011, then install Studio 2014 and see what issues I will have. My worry was to go from Studio 2011 to 2014 with a “problem”. But I may be wrong. I may need your help later (with Studio 2014), so, for the moment many, many thanks for your help.

    • Tuomas Says:

      Ah, I see. I have to admit that I don’t really remember how this worked in Studio 2011 and since I don’t have it installed anymore I can’t even try it. Is there enough space for all the buttons to show in the toolbar; can it be resized? (I have a faint recollection that this was an issue but it could have been in Trados Workbench.) Anyhow, a wise move to upgrade, though 2015 would be even better… Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

      • Claudio Solano Says:

        Great Tuomas – I’m trying to get to Studio 2014 and then 2015. Slow process…
        Many thanks again.

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