1.2. How to start and manage documents

To start ELAN, do the following:

  1. Double-click on the ELAN icon (on your desktop, in the Start menu or in the Dock).

    The initially empty window is displayed in which you can open different kinds of documents.

  2. Click on the File menu (see Figure 1.1).

    The main options in the File menu for creating or opening a file are:

    File menu

    Figure 1.1. File menu

  3. Click on:

    • Open... in case you want to open an ELAN file (*.eaf) (Section 1.2.5)

    • New... in case you want to open a media file in ELAN (e.g. *.mp4, *.mpg, *.wav). This is not for opening an existing annotation file (*.eaf) (Section 1.2.2).

    • Import and then on one of the formats listed in the submenu (Section 1.4.2).

    Other dialog windows will appear and prompt you to enter the names and locations of the different files. Then the ELAN window appears and displays the selected files.

Once you have started ELAN and opened a document, use the File menu to open, create or import a second document. When done with a document use Close (Section 1.2.21) to close it or Exit (Section 1.2.22) to close all files and exit ELAN.

1.2.1. Selecting a user interface language

Elan supports various user interface languages. You can set an interface language at any given time. To do so, choose Options > Language and select one of the available languages.


The selected Language does not influence the content of the produced or edited *.eaf files in any way.

At present Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, English, French ,German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Korean language modules are available. However, new languages can be easily added. If you want to provide a translation for a different language, please contact the ELAN development team.

Alternatively, you can immediately incorporate a new translation as follows. In the directory locale under the directory where ELAN is installed, you will find the files ElanLanguage.properties and SearchLanguage.properties. These files can be used as a basis for your translation. Copy the files to the directory .elan_data (Linux and Windows) or Library/Preferences/ELAN (on Mac OS) in your home directory and simply edit the entries in the files. To view the result of the translation, click Options > Language and select Custom.