SDL Trados Studio TM isn’t updating! My translation memory is empty!

SDL Trados Studio Translation Memory

This post is addressed to new users who have started working on their first file in SDL Trados Studio and find that translated segments aren’t getting sent to their Translation Memory (TM). A segment comes up in the document that is identical to one you have already translated but there are no Translation Results in the top window, no signs of autopropagation and no 100% matches. So how can you solve this problem?

Before we look at some DOs and DON’Ts to troubleshoot the issue, you might like to read my post on How to translate your very first file in SDL Trados Studio.

OK, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

(Black font applies to Studio 2011; green font applies to Studio 2014.)


  1. Make sure you assigned a TM when you opened the document or created the project. Use the add or create buttons to do this.

    Click to enlarge

  2. Confirm segments as you translate.
    If you use Ctrl+Enter to advance to the next segment, the translated segment will be confirmed (notice the status icon changes) and it’ll be sent to your TM. Move the cursor back up to the previous segment after using Ctrl+Enter. The translation unit should now appear in the Translation Results window.
  3. Check you actually have a TM in your project.
    Go to Project settings>tools>options>language pairs>all language pairs>Translation memory and automated translation (Home tab>project settings>language pairs… in Studio 2014). Have you got at least one TM in this window? If you haven’t, then you need to add an already existing TM (click Add) or create a new one (click Create).
  4. After confirming that your project has got a TM assigned, make sure you’ve enabled the “update” box following the path mentioned in point 3. Depending on your Windows font settings, this dialogue window sometimes cuts off and the update box disappears.

    Click to enlarge

  5. Make sure that you are updating the TM in your general settings.
    Go to Tools>options>editor>automation (File tab>options…) and check that the “Update translation memory” option is selected.

    Click to enlarge

  6. Check whether you’re using a project TM without realising it.
    By default, a project TM is not used. If, however, you’ve been getting look-up results in the Editor window and then see an empty TM when you open it in the Translation Memories window, you may have opened the wrong TM, or you may have done the translation with a project TM.
  7. Try running one of these batch tasks: Update Main Translation Memories or Finalize. The difference between the two is that Finalize generates the target document as well as updating the main TM. Access Batch Tasks like this: Go to the Files View (bottom left-hand corner), select your target language, right click the translated file and select Batch Tasks. (If you’re in the Editor window, go to Home tab>Batch Tasks.)
  8. Enable the right boxes when you run a batch task. You’ll probably want to tick Translated, Translation approved, and Signed off.

And a big don’t:

Translation MemoriesDon’t confuse the Translation Memories window with the translation process itself. The Translation Memories window (bottom left-hand corner on the Home screen) is where you open a TM to see what it contains and to carry out maintenance on it. Don’t open a TM in the Translation Memories window if you want to translate a file. Assign your TM to the project you’re working on (or add it when you’re opening a document to translate).

If you have been through all the above points and your TM is still not being updated, as a last resort you can import your translated file into the TM. Go to Translation Memories, (bottom left-hand corner) then File>Open>Translation Memory (Home tab>Open) or simply click Alt+Shift+O from anywhere in Studio. Now go to File>Import (Home tab> Import) and select the translated sdlxliff file.
Hey! Your TM is now bang up to date!

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42 Responses to SDL Trados Studio TM isn’t updating! My translation memory is empty!

  1. Great article. Thanks!

  2. Reblogged this on O tradutor and commented:
    E ainda ontem isto aconteceu na minha aula. Aqui ficam as dicas da Emma Goldsmith.

  3. paulfilkin says:

    Really nice, clear and very helpful article Emma. I think I’ll be referring people to this whenever I see this issue raised in future.

  4. Pingback: (CAT) – SDL Trados Studio TM isn’t updating… my translation memory is empty! | Emma Goldsmith | Glossarissimo!

  5. Pingback: Weekly favorites (Mar 18-24) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

  6. Lucienne Parsons says:

    Thank you so much, Emma, I tried to solve this problem for hours, I was going in a “mad” circle” trying various options. It really got me down until I found your blog, it is so clear and so helpful (contrary to other support suggestions). Great. Lucienne

  7. Galina Fazio says:

    Thank you so very much, Emma! You saved a lot of time for me! (I had to check the update box when loading the TM with the file)

  8. Pingback: Helpful Trados Tips | Journal of a Chinese to English Translator

  9. Francisco says:

    Thank you very much. I did not know how to see what is stored in TM, and now I have got it.

  10. Lucienne Parsons says:

    If you have time, could you help with this one: how to align the segments on the screen while I am working on the document. I have to scroll up and down frequently to place the left-hand segment (in blue) opposite the right-hand one (in blue). Many thanks in anticipation. Lucienne

  11. Hi Lucienne. You may have activated auto-scroll by accident. Check out the paragraph on auto-scroll in this post:
    Hope it works!

  12. Ziva says:

    Thank you! Your explanation is very clear and to the point.
    This information is exactly what I was looking for, and it was very helpful.
    Also a big thank you for explaining what the Translation Memories window is used for, and the differnece between that and the Project Settings dialog box.

  13. Reblogged this on How Transcription Services Work and commented:
    Starting translators and having problems with SDL Trados Studio? This blog post will help you, thanks to Emma Goldsmith.

  14. migueldelavegaipt1 says:

    Reblogged this on translation services.

  15. Q says:

    Just want to say thank you so much for this post! I have followed every steps in Do list, no changes happen until I read the Don’t list, I opened my TM while editing my translation! And, yes, I am a first time user doing my translation in Trados :p

    Have a good day!

  16. Olga says:

    God!!! What I would be doing without this blog?! Each time I’m stuck with Studio 2011, google takes me to your blog, and to the answer that solves the problems in seconds.
    Thank you for writing these clear, detailed and extremely helpful entries!

  17. Brian says:

    Thanks Emma for your helpful article,

  18. Evelyna says:

    None of these, and I mean none! (I had tried them all before getting to the article, but it was nice to see that I hadn’t missed anything) works. I have been a Trados user since 1998, and I want to scream and bang my head against a wall!!!

    • Sorry to hear you can’t update your TM, Evelyna. Have you tried creating a new TM, to see if that works? If it does then maybe your TM is corrupted. And have you tried creating a new project from scratch with your current TM and a different file, to see if that works? And a new project with the problem file and a new TM? I think that’s what I’d do: try to exclude possible culprits, one by one.
      Good luck and I hope you solve your problem!

      • Evelyna says:

        Hi Emma, thank you for your reply and suggestions. It was a new project and an empty TM, which was why the problem was so baffling. I also forgot to mention that, in addition to a power user for a number of years, I trained as a Trados trainer, so I am quite proficient in the old (and oh so great!) Trados 2007. Unfortunately, I hate Studio with a passion even though I have been using 2011 for a couple of years and recently upgraded to 2014 (a slight improvement, if it weren’t for this weird bug).

        I did manage to solve it by disabling the project TM and restarting Studio (it took me a while). I discounted it as a fluke, and kept working without a project TM (as a matter of fact, I may be wrong, but I believe I had specifically prepared my files WITHOUT a project TM – I always do). Then, a couple of hours ago, I added a new file to my project. Studio refused to pre-translate the file while the project TM was disabled (even though I used “Prepare without project TM”), so I re-enabled the project TM. And again, a bit later, I noticed that my TMs – neither the main nor the project – were getting updated with the new translations! Again, it took disabling the project TM (this time without restarting) for my main memory to start getting updated (I have screenshots showing confirmed TUs not appearing in my main TM and my project TM, still empty). All the options and settings are as they should be.

        I don’t know what to make of it. Any ideas?

        • The only thing I can think of is starting a completely new project using default Studio settings (if you’re like me, I always base my new projects on ones that I have previously created).
          If that doesn’t work, I hope you’ve got a PSMA, because it sounds as if you need a session with SDL remote support. Good luck!

  19. Brigith Guimaraes says:

    Thank you so much, Emma! Crystal clear and simple, I’ve been spending hours trying to figure it out. Brigith – Portugal

  20. Very clearly explained, I have read it and now I know what to do. Thank you. At the beginning I was confusing the TM window with the TM that should be opened while opening a file to translate silly me.

  21. Yuki says:

    I did No. 7 with No. 8 above. I was hoping that my TM was updated with translation from the sdlxliff file, with each segment “Translated.” However, this did not happen. When I “Confirm” segments one by one (Ctrl+Enter), TM is updated and the status changes to “Translated” all right. Am I doing something wrong in batch task? (I use 2014 but I think it was the same with my 2011.)

    • Hi Yuki. It sounds as if you’re doing it right, so I don’t know why the batch task “update main TMs” isn’t working for you. I’d open the TM in the translation memories window afterwards to check that the segments aren’t there as you say. As a workaround, I’d use the same window to import the .sdlxliff (see very end of post) if the batch task described in point 7 doesn’t work for you.

  22. Dobrochna says:

    Hello, tahnk you for explaining everything with details. I have a problem only with the last step: ” Now go to File>Import (Home tab> Import) and select the translated sdlxliff file.” I have the 2014 version. I can’t find the Import button. I have only the Import filters button.. could you please help me with that?

    • Hi Dobrochna. You have to go to the Translation Memories view first (click down in the bottom left-hand corner to get there). Then open your (empty) translation memory, and then click on Import. Hope it works now!

      • Dobrochna says:

        Thank you very much for your quick reply! Does it have to be an epmty TM? Can I update an existing TM? And where is the magic Import button, because I can’t find it (wchich corner, side of the program layout)? I can’t see it, really!

        • You won’t see the import button on the Home tab of the ribbon until you activate a TM, either by clicking it in the list on the left-hand side or by opening it. Until you do that, the icons on the home tab, from left to right, are: Project settings>Open>New>Upgrade TMs>Align docs… But when you open a TM, you’ll see Project settings>Open>New>Import>Export>batch settings…
          And, no, the TM doesn’t have to be empty.

          • Dobrochna says:

            Thanks a lot! I didn’t know there was a list of TMs to be opened on the left. Yes, I needed to click on it:) the other way seems complicated, at least I can’t find it. I still have so much to learn! Importatn thing is now I know at least one way to find the “Import” button and use it:) Thanks again!

  23. Lianne says:

    Thank you for your great blog with really helpful information! I have run into it multiple times over the past year when getting my feet wet with Trados. However, I am really puzzled by this issue of (lack of) “Translation Results.” I struggled with this in my previous project on my windows 7 system and now again. I am NOT getting a result for a (short) phrase, but when I use F3 (concordance) for that very same phrase, I have around 30+ matches in the 80% to 87% range. Unless I am not understanding what to expect from Studio 2011, this seems ridiculous to me. In a previous project, I tweaked the settings under “search” (under Translation Memory and Automated Translation) and lowered the minimum match value to 50, which seemed to help getting results (in the 80% range). I increased penalties for a TM that was not priority, I have quit Studio, I have re-analyzed files to “wake up” the translation results window, but today, nothing is working. I have 3 active tm’s, two of which are supposed to update. They DO update, and I do get translation results for very high matches (near 100%), but nothing in the 80% range as with concordance. I have been a Wordfast Pro user for the past 6 years, and never had any problem with this function. Am I still missing something? It is very frustrating and discouraging…. Thanks for any suggestions. I am going to reboot now. Maybe it is a java thing, although MultiTerm (finally) runs just great.

    • Hi Lianne,
      I think you’re confusing % matches or results from a TM look-up (Studio automatically does this when you move to the next segment) with the % match that you get from the concordance look-up. If you get an 80-87% match from F3, this is an indication of how the concordance has performed.
      So it’s not surprising that you don’t get results for a short phrase, while you do from concordance for the same whole phrase.
      Sometimes matches are surprisingly low (and frustrating) when you can see that a short sentence is very similar to a previously translated one. In fact shortness is a disadvantage here, because one different word will alter the % match substantially. Tag differences will also be penalised in a match.
      This has nothing to do with Java, by the way.
      To make sure you’re doing it all right, I suggest you create a source doc by hand from a few segments in your TM, and change a couple of words here or there, to see if matches come up as expected. Maybe worth a try?

  24. Lianne says:

    I think I found the solution under “search both project and main translation memories” – a setting that did not transfer to the new project, even though I used the template of the previous project where I had this enabled. I am not sure what the difference is between “project tm” and “main translation memories”. I simply have a list of tm’s, one of which is empty, and which I created specifically for just the project. So that must be the “project tm” even though I designated several tm’s “as project tm’s”.
    Wordfast automatically searches in all activated tm’s and would consider all of them “project tm’s.” At any rate, this must be a crucial setting when you have multiple tm’s activated… Thanks 🙂

  25. Sandra says:

    Thanks, Emma, you saved me a lot of frustration and time today! The import did the trick.
    Much appreciated!

  26. Jane Phillips says:

    As a brand-new and rather floundering Trados user I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time with you – seriously glad to have met you and a very big thanks !!! Jane

  27. Jason Raff says:

    Hi Emma, great article, but I’m having some strange issues.

    When I load my general TM in a project, the Results window in the Editor view consistently shows matches from the current translation, meaning TUs are updating to the TM as I confirm. However, when I open the same TM in Memory view, those TUs are not visible. I have enabled all the relevant options, disabled Project TMs, and run an Update Main TM batch task, all to no avail.

    Now the weird part: in Memory view, my Import button it not available even with an open TM. Out of curiosity, I created a new, empty test TM from scratch, and sure enough, the Import button came back. I opened my actual TM and the Import button remained. Then I closed Studio and tried opening both the real and test TM again, and now the Import button is missing again. Any ideas of what could possibly be going on? Thanks in advance!

    • One reason why you can’t see the TUs in the the Translation Memory view is that you may only be displaying the first 50 or 200 entries. Click the blue arrow in ribbon (“next page”) to see more TUs. If that’s not the problem, then you must be updating a different TM. Check that you’re using the right path to browse to your TM, and also that it isn’t a Project TM. If not, then I’m sorry, I’ve run out of ideas.

      Re. the missing Import button in Translation Memory view. That’s a mystery. It only appears when you have a TM open in that window, but then it must be shown. Sorry, I can’t help on that one.

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