Setting the language on a iPad to UK English

Out of the box the iPad is configured to display in English. Sounds reasonable for an iPad bought in an English speaking region. And considering it was bought in the UK I would have assumed that the simple language moniker of “English” meant actual, well, English… as in the language from England, spoken in England, written in England, etc.

It turns out that it doesn’t mean that at all. It means American English. If you want actual English, you have to go through a hierarchy of settings menus to find it hidden way down near the bottom of a list and find the entry called “British English”… No mention of any of the other variants of English, incidentally.

I wouldn’t have minded so much, even although I tend to think of actual English as being “UK English” or “English (UK)” when talking in an international context, but to have “English” mean “American English” seems a bit of an affront…. And I’m not even English!

Anyway, if you want your iPad to display stuff in English (as in British, Commonwealth, or just plain English English) then here’s what to do:

Click the Settings icon, unless you’ve moved it it’s on your home screen. Once in the settings app, select General:

iPad General Settings

Down near the bottom of the General settings you’ll see a button marked International, press it.

iPad International SettingsThen at the top, you’ll see a setting called Language, which is probably displaying “English” as the language at this point. Press the Language button.

iPad Language dialog (English... as in American English)Now you will see the Language pop up and “English” (as in American English) will be ticked. To get to British/Commonwealth/UK English scroll the list all the way to the bottom.

iPad Language (displaying British English)You can now tick “British English”. When you press “Done” the screen will go black and a couple of seconds later it will show your app icons again… This time, your iPad is now displaying actual English.

Interestingly, it looks like Apple have also taken an Amero-centric view of Portugues too. It displays “Português” (which I assume is Brazilian) and “Português (Portugal)”… It’s all a bit like walking up to your parents and giving them a big slap in the face really.


  1. Jdmichael says:

    I changed my language settings to UK English on my ipad right now. I too had some colourful (no red lines under that as I typed that last bit :-)) thoughts about it. I’m South African English and it’s essentially the same as (British) English. It’s almost racist that “English” is not at least called “American English” let alone be regarded as “the” English

  2. Jdmichael says:

    O sh!t. I only realised this article is 4 years old. Why haven’t more people found this strange. This is literally the only match on google.

    I’ve also realised that realised autocorrects to realiZe even with the language changed. Damn you Apple. Damn you to hell! 🙂

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