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The preferences dialog allows you to personalize some aspects of a MediaWiki wiki. They will apply only when you are logged in. (The link will appear at the very top of any page.)

Some MediaWiki projects form a family in the sense that one logs in into the family as a whole, and that common preference settings apply. Notably this is the case for the more than 1000 Wikia projects. On Wikimedia projects, logging in and setting preferences are currently done separately on each wiki. You may find it convenient to specify the same preferences on each wiki that you use. See also Single signon transition.

User profile

your account name
User ID
internal account id
Member of groups
group membership, see Help:Group rights
Number of edits
total number of edits, see Help:User contributions#Number of edits
Global account status
manage your unified account settings, see Help:Unified login
Real name
optional real name; if you choose to provide it this will be used for giving you attribution for your work. This field is disabled on Wikimedia projects
your e-mail address, this is optional and not required. If specified, it needs to be confirmed. Your e-mail address will not be shown publicly on the site, and will:
  • allow you to reset your password on the log in screen, if you forget it
  • allow you to use some options (listed in the #Email section below)
text that defines your signature, when you enter ~~~ or ~~~~.
If the following "raw signature" checkbox is not checked, then your nickname is applied as a label for a link to your user page, so your signature will be [[User:username|nickname]], although the exact expression depends on the system message MediaWiki:Signature. If you leave nickname field empty, your username will be used instead.
Neither wiki-code nor HTML code is interpreted in non-raw signature: the server passes the wiki-code on unchanged, while it converts the HTML in such a way that the browser effectively does not interpret it; for example, "<" is replaced by "&lt;" rendered as "<".
o Raw signatures
this option tells MediaWiki to interpret your nickname as a complete wikicode for your signature, see #Raw signature section below.
allows you to specify site interface language, see Help:System messages. There are some limitations:
  • If local MediaWiki:Sidebar contains literal labels, these are in effect for all interface languages.
  • Note that some contain internal links, with the name of a page in the interface language project but without the corresponding prefix; therefore these links in general do not work, unless redirects are made.
  • Note that using English as interface language in RTL projects shows "This is a minor edit" and "Watch this page" on the edit page with tick boxes reversed: the tick boxes do not belong to the nearest but to the other text.
  • Note that using Spanish as interface language in version up than 1.4.0 shows no Edit toolbar when editing articles (Mozilla browser, firefox as well).
  • The interface language does not affect namespace names, they are determined by the site language, which is the language with code $wgLanguageCode. However, in links and in page names entered in the address bar of the browser, English namespace names, being the generic namespace names, are automatically converted to the local names.

Change password

To change your password, enter your old password, the new password, and the new password a second time. If you're merely changing the other preferences, you do not need to enter your password.
Old password
New password
Retype new password
o Remember password across sessions
this feature will place a cookie in your browser's cache, which will allow MediaWiki to recognize you each time you visit the page. You will not have to log in each time you visit.
This option requires you to change your password if it was generated by Mediawiki and emailed to you. This is a security feature but very often causes trouble for new users.
Please do not try to change your password here; do so at preferences in the top right of the screen.


Beginning of this section shows the status of your e-mail: not specified / need to confirm / already confirmed.
o E-mail me when a page I'm watching is changed
o Enable e-mail from other users
o E-mail me also for minor edits of pages
o Enable e-mail from other users
this allows other registered users to send you an e-mail using "E-mail this user" link on your user page. Emails are sent from MediaWiki web interface, and your e-mail address is not revealed to a sender (that is, until you decide to reply by email).
o Send me copies of emails I send to other users

Several of these options are disabled on some Wikimedia projects for perfomance reasons.


O Chick
O Classic
O Cologne Blue
O Modern
O MonoBook
O MySkin
O Nostalgia
O Simple

A MediaWiki skin is a style of page display. There are differences in the HTML code the system produces (but probably not in the page body), and also different style sheets are used.

The default is the MonoBook skin; what was called Standard is here in the preferences called Classic (not to be confused with the even older Nostalgia), but the system uses "wikistandard" in the naming of css files.

Links at the edges of the page are in different positions. Some links are not present in every skin. In Nostalgia some links are in a drop-down menu instead of directly visible.

Cologne Blue has a fixed font size unless one specifies in the browser "ignore font sizes specified in the webpage"; even then the line height is fixed; therefore this skin is hardly suitable for a large font.

In MonoBook the width of the panel on the left is dependent on the font size. Therefore, with a large font, the width of the main part of the page is smaller than with other skins.

For Classic with a quickbar and a large font a CSS setting to reduce the size of the quickbar text may be necessary. This depends on the project, specifically on the length of the longest word in the quickbar. If that does not fit in the designated width, there are complications depending on the browser. In Internet Explorer the quickbar overlaps the main text and a vertical line which is intended to separate the two, crosses the main text. In some other browsers the problem does not arise if the quickbar is on the right.

Since there is word wrapping but no wrapping within a word, the longest word and not the longest full label is the criterion:

  • "contributions" - English and French Wikipedia and Meta - short, large font is possible
  • "Beobachtungsliste" - German Wikipedia - long - large font is hardly useable
  • "Foutenrapportage" - Dutch Wikipedia - ditto
  • "Gebruikersbydraes" - Afrikaans - ditto

To use the full width of the screen for the main text, use Classic without quickbar or Nostalgia. The drawback is that links are missing to the special pages and your user page, respectively. With the skin "Chick", all links are grouped at the end of the page.

This page in various skins:

In some cases a skin gives problems changing it. In that case, use e.g. //simple.wikiquote.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Preferences&useskin=monobook and save the desired skin while using the Monobook skin.

See also Help:User style, and for developments and discussions, Skins.

Rendering math

Rendering math
o Always render PNG
o HTML if very simple or else PNG
o HTML if possible or else PNG
o Leave it as TeX (for text browsers)
o Recommended for modern browsers
o MathML if possible (experimental)

MediaWiki allows you to enter mathematical equations as TeX code. These options let you control how that code is rendered into PNG images.

  • Always render PNG: Always make a PNG image from the TeX code.
  • HTML if very simple or else PNG: If the TeX code is very simple, like "x = 3", render it as HTML. For more complex code, render as PNG.
  • HTML if possible or else PNG: This option tries really hard to use HTML, but if it's too complicated, then it renders it as PNG. Warning: some browsers incorrectly render the markup generated for the formula a^{b^c} in this mode as abc: the symbol c is at base level, which is not just a matter of being ugly, but it makes formulas wrong!. A workaround is to add "\,\!": a^{b^{\,\!c}}. With the current settings you get Failed to parse (SVG (MathML can be enabled via browser plugin): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle a^{b^c}} and Failed to parse (SVG (MathML can be enabled via browser plugin): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle a^{b^{\,\!c}}} .
  • Leave it as TeX: Don't convert the TeX code, just show it. This is primarily for text-based browsers like Lynx.
  • Recommended for modern browsers. If you use a web browser that was released in the past year or so, use this option.
  • MathML if possible (experimental)


Limit images on image description pages to:  320x240

(Prior to version 1.5, this is under "Recent changes and stub display".)

One can specify a limit on the size of images on image description pages.

The large limit 10000x10000 means that one gets the full image.

With a slow connection it is not practical to have to load a large image just to read image info. Also, it may be practical if a large image at first is made to fit on the screen, in the case that the browser does not do that itself. If the image has been reduced there is a link to the full image.

From MediaWiki 1.5 the default thumbnail width can be set in the preferences; this can be overridden by an image width specified in the image tag; the latter is typically not advisable, in order to respect the users' preferences.

Date and time

Date format

o No preference
o 16:12, January 15, 2001
o 16:12, 15 January 2001
o 16:12, 2001 January 15
o 2001-01-15T16:12:34

This setting affects the appearance of timestamps on all special pages. They appear just like shown here, except that in Recent changes etc. date and time are separate, without separator "," or "T". Note that the last option, although inconvenient for many users, provides the only way to see seconds.

This setting also affects the appearance of links produced by wikitext for which the date formatting feature applies:

  • Option "default": the appearance of links is as without the date formatting feature, except:
    • the wikitext [[2001-01-05]] gives the same appearance as [[2001]]-[[01-05]]
    • if the day is in the center, a comma is put at the year side, if it is not there yet
    • otherwise, if there is a comma it is removed
  • Option "mdy": format [[m d]], [[y]] or [[m d]]
  • Option "dmy": format [[m d|d m]] [[y]] or [[m d|d m]]
  • Option "ymd": format [[y]] [[m d]] or [[m d]]
  • Option "ISO 8601":
    • format [[y]]-[[m-d]] with numeric m, and m and d with leading zeros.
    • without year: appearance as without the date formatting feature
    • This does not convert historic dates given in the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The assumption that ISO dates will be Gregorian will therefore be wrong for almost all articles dealing with times before 1582, and many articles before 1752. Use at your own risk.

Time zone

Server time: 08:34
Local time: 06:34
Offset: -2 

"Offset" is the number of hours to be added or subtracted from UTC to find your time zone. It may become temporarily incorrect from time to time if you observe daylight saving time -- don't forget to update it to match your local time, because the Wiki doesn't know where you are or precisely when you celebrate DST. (Also, the server's clock may be slightly offset from reality, much as Wikipedia articles may be.) Try this link if you are not sure what is your time zone.

This offset is used to display your local time on all special pages, i.e. the pages that are generated by MediaWiki and cannot be directly edited:

On the other hand, site time is always shown in the timestamps on all Talk pages (and also used in referring to non-localized events, including things that happen on the wiki).

Keep this in mind when copying an excerpt from any special page to a Talk page. Convert manually to UTC or temporarily set the preferences to a zero offset before producing the revision history etc. to be copied. Many experienced users prefer to keep offset as 0 all the time.

Typically on international wikis the site time is UTC. For sites where most users live in one time zone the site time may be set to that, and follow a possible DST. Note that a user who changes his preferences according to the starts and endings of DST still sees a difference if in summer looking at a date/time in winter in a page history, and comparing that with the time in a talk page signature, etc.


Rows:           Columns:  
o Enable section editing via [edit] links
o Enable section editing by right-clicking on section titles (JavaScript)
o Edit pages on double click (JavaScript)
o Edit box has full width
o Show edit toolbar
o Show preview on first edit
o Show preview before edit box
o Add pages I create to my watchlist
o Add pages you edit to your watchlist
o Mark all edits minor by default
o Use external editor by default
o Use external diff by default
o Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary
o Show hidden categories
  • Rows, Columns: Here you can set up your preferred dimensions for the textbox used for editing page text.
  • Enable section editing via [edit] links: An edit link will appear to the right of each sub-heading to allow editing of that subsection only.
  • Enable section editing by right-clicking on section titles (JavaScript): In compatible browsers, if this option is checked, a right-click on the section title will bring up the edit box for that section only.
  • Edit pages on double click (JavaScript): In compatible browsers, if this option is checked, a double click anywhere on the page will bring up the edit box for the entire contents of the page.
  • Edit box has full width: If this box is checked, the edit box (when you click "Edit this page") will be the width of the browser window, minus the quickbar width.
  • Show edit toolbar: In compatible browsers, a toolbar with editing buttons can be displayed.
  • Show preview on first edit: When pressing the edit button or otherwise following a link to an edit page, show not only the edit box but also the rendered page, just like after pressing "Show preview": This is especially useful when viewing a template, because even just viewing, not editing, typically requires both. Switch this off to see and/or edit the wikitext of a page for which rendering is slow or even timing out. This option can be overridden by &preview=yes / &preview=no URL parameter.
  • Show preview before edit box: If you select this option, the preview will be displayed above the edit box when you click the "Show preview" button while editing a page.
  • Add pages I create to my watchlist: If this option is selected, any page you create will automatically be added to your watchlist.
  • Add pages you edit to your watchlist: If this option is selected, any pages that you modify will be automatically added to your watchlist.
  • Mark all edits minor by default: This option automatically selects the "This is a minor edit" checkbox when you edit pages.
  • Use external editor by default: (New to 1.5) Changes editing from online version to external program. See mw:Manual:External editors.
  • Use external diff by default: (New to 1.5) Changes diffing from online version to external program. See mw:Manual:External editors.
  • Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary: If selected, the editor will display a warning message when no edit summary is added to the edit summary box, after the "Save page" button is pressed.

Recent changes

Days to show in recent changes:
Number of titles in recent changes: 
o Hide minor edits in recent changes
o Enhanced recent changes (not for all browsers)
  • Number of titles on recent changes: You may select the number of changes which will be shown by default on the Recent Changes and Watchlist page. Once on those pages, links are provided for other options.
  • Hide minor edits in recent changes. Registered users may choose to mark edits as being minor (meaning fixes too trivial for trusting users to check up on). It applies to Recent Changes and Enhanced Recent Changes, but not to the Watchlist. It also affects Related changes, but currently in an odd way: if the last edit of a page linking to the current page was minor, then neither that nor the last major change is shown.
  • Enhanced recent changes (not for all browsers). Group recent changes per day by article, display the titles of the changed articles in order from new to old latest change, or in the case of hiding minor edits, latest major change. This feature applies also to Related Changes, and, in the case that "Expand watchlist to show all applicable changes" has been selected, to the watchlist.


Number of days to show in watchlist: 

o Expand watchlist to show all applicable changes
Number of edits to show in expanded watchlist: 

o Hide my edits from the watchlist
o Hide bot edits from the watchlist
o Add pages I edit to my watchlist
o Add pages I create to my watchlist
o Add pages I move to my watchlist
o Add pages I delete to my watchlist


Hits to show per page: 
Lines to show per hit: 
Characters of context per line: 
Search in these namespaces by default:
o (Main) 
o Talk 
o User
o User talk
o Meta
o Meta talk
o Image
o Image talk
o MediaWiki
o MediaWiki talk
o Template
o Template talk
o Help 
o Help talk
o Category
o Category talk
  • Hits to show per page: You may choose the number of results returned on each page of search results.
  • Lines to show per hit is somewhat cryptic; specifying a number n means: "do not show any context if the search term occurs beyond line n in the page"; here a paragraph, as well as the blank line between two paragraphs, each count as one "line"; line breaks in the source, even when not affecting the lay-out of the page (and even when not directly visible in the edit box of the article), affect the line count. Setting the parameter to 5000 or more gives context for every occurrence.
  • Characters of context per line: the number of characters of context per occurrence; however, the context is anyway restricted to the "line" (see above) it occurs in. To get the whole line, put a large number like 5000.
  • Search in these namespaces by default: shows a list of all namespaces (not the same in all projects; for older MediaWiki versions, which do not have Special:Version, this is also a useful indicator what version is used; for even older versions that do not have this item in the preferences, see the list after performing a search), allowing one to select which ones are searched by default; see also Namespaces searched.

Administrators: See also mw:Manual:$wgNamespacesToBeSearchedDefault for information on how to change the default preferences.

Misc settings

Threshold for stub link formatting (bytes)
See Stub feature.
Underline links
Normally, link text will be underlined. Optionally, you may request that links not be underlined, although your browser may not respect this setting. Normally links that are not underlined can still be recognized by color. However, one can then not distinguish between two consecutive words being a single link or two links, without pointing at the words with the cursor, compare p q and p q. With underlining there is, depending on the font, less (an underscore may be wider than an underlined space) or no distinction between a blank space and an underscore (p_q); for internal links this may be an advantage (for reading, not for editing) because they are equivalent; for external links with underscores it may also be an advantage because it looks better (http://www.example.com/p_q) while the underscore is implied by the fact that the q is part of the link. In a piped link one may want to distinguish between underscore and space (p_q r) but this is very rare. For an old discussion of changing the default here, see m:Link style vote. For further choices of style of links in general and/or types of links one can use CSS (site-wide for all skins, site-wide per skin, user-specific per skin, or web-wide, user-specific)
Format broken links like this (alternative like this?)
An internal link to a non-existing pages is automatically a link to the edit page. By default the link label of [[b]] and [[a|b]] is "b", just like for links to existing pages. Alternatively the link label is a question mark inserted after "b", like this: A red link?. The appearance of the link is further determined by the style specified for css selectors "a.new" and "a.new:hover" (the example on the preferences page wrongly uses class="internal" for the question mark). Internal links to pages which do not yet exist currently appear on your browser like this one. Normally, this is underlined and in red. With the trailing question mark link one can then not distinguish between a single word being linked or a phrase of more than one word, without pointing at the question mark with the cursor. Also, remember that the question mark does not mean that the information is uncertain.
Justify paragraphs
If set, article paragraphs will be formatted to avoid jagged line endings. If unset, the paragraphs will be formatted as-is.
Auto-number headings
This adds hierarchical outline-style numbering to headers in articles.
Show table of contents (for pages with more than 3 headings)
See table of contents.
Disable page caching
This turns off page caching. This is useful if you're experiencing problems of seeing outdated versions of pages, but this comes at a cost of longer loading times.
Enable "jump to" accessibility links
Provides two links "Jump to: navigation, search" at the top of each page, to the navigation bar and the search box. These links are visible in Myskin skin, hidden in Monobook, Simple, Chick and Modern skins (can be made visible by site or personal CSS) and are not present in 3 other skins.
Don't show page content below diffs
This option helps save traffic if you check out a lot of diffs. Might also be useful to see changes in a page for which rendering is slow or even timing out. Option can be overridden by &diffonly=yes URL parameter.
Show hidden categories
(New to 1.13) shows categories which are normally hidden from viewers.


See mw:Extension:Gadgets.


This preferences section only appears in the Classic and Cologne Blue skins (after #User Profile section).

This selection allows you to choose the position of the Quickbar, which is a list of links to the various special pages, similar to Monobook sidebar.

The "fixed" quickbar will appear at the top corner of the page, while the "floating" quickbar will appear at the top corner of the browser window instead of scrolling with the article text. Floating quickbars may not float correctly on old or mobile browsers.

The QuickBar must be enabled to allow you access to some features such as moving (renaming) a page, and in the case of Classic, also to arrive at the Special Pages, unless you type the URL.

From MediaWiki 1.5 This has been removed in 1.5


If you want to change your username, it is recommended that you do this retroactively in the sense that your previous user contributions are recorded under the new name. Users and sysops cannot do this, one can ask a bureaucrat to do so. Signatures are not changed and therefore will no longer match page histories of the talk pages concerned. However, you can edit signatures manually. Also other occurrences of your name on talk pages are not retroactively changed. The deletion log and the upload log are not altered.

Account deletion is not possible.

You cannot indicate personal information (such as your real name) here, but you may do so on a page named after your username in the User: namespace. (That's available as a link on the line which says "You are logged in as user WhatsYourName" above the preferences panel. Feel free to start your own page with anything you want to say about yourself on it.)

Raw signatures

If "Raw signature" is checked, then:

  • Nothing is added to the text that you specify. What you specify is what is used between the two dashes and the timestamp.
  • Wiki markup and HTML markup (as far as allowed in general in wikitext) can be used: the wiki-code is processed, and the HTML is passed on, allowing the browser to interpret it. However, templates and parser functions are not expanded, and images are not allowed. The maximum length is 255 characters.

In the case of a common signature on several projects, as in Wikia, note that links may lead to a different page, depending on the project in which you put the signature, even if you use interwiki link style. For example, India:User talk:John leads to the page User talk:John on India, except from the India project, where it leads to India:User talk:John in the India namespace. Therefore you may want to make a redirect such that the final target of the link is always the same.

Invalid raw signatures

You may find the following message displayed in your user preferences:

Invalid raw signature; check HTML tags.

This means you are using invalid HTML markup on your signature. Some possible causes with their corresponding solutions:

Unclosed tags
If you are opening a tag without the corresponding closing tag (for instance: [[User:Example|<font color="white">Example]]), you should close the tag (for instance: [[User:Example|<font color="white">Example</font>]]). It's also a good idea to put the tags outside the link if possible (for instance: <font color="white">[[User:Example|Example]]</font>).
Mismatched or incorrectly nested tags
If the tags are mismatched (for instance: ;<s><u>hi</s></u>), fix them (for instance: <s><u>hi</u></s>).
Unquoted attributes
It's also recommended to use quotes on all attributes (for instance, use <font color="white"></font> instead of <font color=white></font>).
Unclosed entities
If you have a HTML entity which is lacking the final ;, you need to add it; if you have a bare &, it must be replaced by &amp; (a bare & is always a mistake in either HTML or wikicode).
Unescaped special characters
If you are using one of &, <, or >, and want it shown as text, it must be escaped as &amp;, &lt;, or &gt;, respectively.

Former use of images and templates in signatures

In the past images and templates were allowed. Thus they can still be present. Changes in them are retroactive, which on one hand may be confusing, but on the other hand, to rectify annoying signatures, may be convenient.

Signature content

Check the rules of your project (for example, for the English Wikipedia see w:Wikipedia:Signatures) and note that:

  • using another nickname than your username is confusing (the page history shows your username, not your nickname)
  • if you show your username as an image, or with letters replaced by special characters, even if the name is still readable, searching a talk page for your username with the search feature of the browser will fail
  • excessive signatures may clutter talk pages and their wikitext
  • drawing excessive attention to yourself may create the impression that you find yourself more important than other people

A wiki can designate a CSS class like "excess-sig" for non-essential parts of the signatures and request users to specify this class in their signatures where applicable, and/or each user can use a user-specific class, such as "excesssigAbc" for user Abc. Thus the signature is e.g. <span class="excesssig excesssigAbc">[[Image:...]]</span>[[User:Abc|Abc]]. This allows a user to hide for themself non-essential parts of the signatures of all or specific users, and/or to highlight for oneself one's own signature.

Browser preferences

Browsers usually also allow you to specify preferences, e.g. font size and font type. The standard skin is compatible with your browser setting of font size and font type. The Cologne Blue skin has most text in a fixed font size, ignoring your browser setting. Some browsers, e.g. IE, allow you to specify that font size specified in the web page is ignored. In that case the font size in Cologne Blue is as specified in the browser, but with the line height not adjusted accordingly. Therefore a large font gives a messy result.

Providing your own CSS

Cascading Style Sheets are used to configure MediaWiki's visual appearance. You can specify your own CSS definitions and overwrite the default settings. See Help:User style.

See also