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This is a copy of the master help page at m:Help:Preferences. Do not edit this page. Edits will be lost in the next update from the master page. Either edit the master help page for all projects at Meta, or edit the project-specific text at Template:Ph:Preferences. You are welcome to copy the exact wikitext from the master page at Meta and paste it into this page at any time.


  1. Searching, Go Button
  2. What links here
  3. Random page
  4. Special Pages
  5. Printable Version

Tracking Changes

  1. Recent Changes
  2. Enhanced recent Changes
  3. Related Changes
  4. Watching pages
  5. Page History
  6. Diff
  7. User Contributions


  1. Logging in
  2. Preferences
  3. User Style

The preferences dialog allows you to personalize some aspects of a MediaWiki wiki. They will apply only when you are logged in.

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 500 projects of Wikicities. 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, but this is not necessary. See also Single signon transition.

User data

User data
Your email*: ...
o Register email
Your nickname (for signatures): ...
o Raw signatures (without automatic link)
Interface language: English
Change password
Old password: ...
New password: ...
Retype new password: ...
o Remember password across sessions 
* Real name (optional): if you choose to provide it this will be used
for giving you attribution for your work.
* Email (optional): Enables people to contact you through the website
without you having to reveal your email address to them, and it can be
used to send you a new password if you forget it.
  • Your e-mail: You may optionally register your e-mail address (it will not be shown publicly on the site). This will enable you to reset your password by clicking the "Mail me a new password" box on the log in screen, if you forget it. Additionally, it will enable other registered users to send e-mail to you from the "E-mail this user" link on your user page unless you've checked the disable box (see below).
  • Disable e-mail from other users: If you check this, users will not be able to send you e-mail by way of the "E-mail this user" feature.

Your nickname


Although your username is not necessarily your real name and could therefore be called a nickname, the term "nickname" is used here for a name you may optionally specify, different from your username, for when you enter your signature with ~~~ or ~~~~.

(If you use the edit toolbar for signing, remember that it gives two dashes before the four tildes.)

Raw signatures


However, there is even more versatility. You can use any text as your nickname.

From MediaWiki 1.5 the behaviour of signatures has changed. In older versions of MediaWiki, wiki and HTML markup could be entered in signatures, even without "Raw signatures" being checked. So entering "]] | [[User talk:Name|Talk" as your signature would have also included a link to your talk page in your signature, producing an effect similar to: "Name | Talk". This is now no longer the case.

If "Raw signatures (without automatic link)" is unchecked, then

  • The software enters "[[User:Name|" in front of, and "]]" after your nickname text.
  • Any characters in your nickname that would otherwise constitute Wiki markup and HTML markup are escaped as HTML character entities. A nickname of "]] | [[User talk:Name|Talk" will thus produce a signature of "]] | [[User talk:Name|Talk", which is probably not what you want.

If "Raw signatures" 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 are not escaped, allowing you to include links, font tags, images, and templates in your signature.

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|<span style="color:white">Example]]), you should close the tag (for instance: [[User:Example|<span style="color:white">Example</span>]]). It's also a good idea to put the tags outside the link if possible (for instance: <span style="color"white">[[User:Example|Example]]</span>).
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 <span style="color:'white'"></span> instead of <span style="color:white"></span>).
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.

Using images and templates in signatures


Note that changes in the images and templates are retroactive, which on one hand may be confusing, but on the other hand, to rectify annoying signatures, may be convenient. To avoid retroactivity, use a new image or template name. Do not create a signature template in the article or template namespace: instead use a subpage of your own userpage such as sig, and link it with "{{User:Name/sig}}".

In the case of a common signature on several projects, as in Wikicities, remember that templates are project-specific. Thus, if a signature contains a template call, to make it work in all projects, a template is needed in each (these may be copies, but the content can also be different for each project). Note also 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 use external link style, or make a redirect such that the final target of the link is always the same.

Signature content


Check the rules of your project (for example, for the English Wikipedia see w:Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages) 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 will fail
  • excessive signatures may clutter talk pages
  • drawing excessive attention to yourself may create the impression that you find yourself more important than other people



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.)

  • Remember password across sessions. Enabling this feature will place an HTTP 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.

If you want to use remember my password you have 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.

Interface language


One can specify an interface language. It shows the default messages, not those in the MediaWiki namespace. 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).

QuickBar settings



This selection only works in the Classic and Cologne Blue skins (see below). In Monobook there is a left panel anyway; in Nostalgia there is none.

This is the list of links to the various special pages. You may optionally have it appear at the right or left side of each page. There's no option yet to have it appear at the top or bottom of the page.

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



O Classic
O Nostalgia
O Cologne Blue
O MonoBook
O MySkin

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.


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. This option does not show a^{b^c} correctly! It shows the c at base level, which is not just a matter of being ugly, but it makes formulas wrong!. A workaround is to add "\,\!": a^{b^{\,\!2+2}}. With the current settings you get   and  
  • 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 format


The following is rendered depending on preferences:

 [[January 15]], [[2001]]
 [[15 January]] [[2001]]
 [[2001]] [[January 15]]
 [[January 15]]
 [[15 January]]

With your current preference setting on this project the seven are rendered as follows:

By default the rendering is as usual for links. However one can specify as preference that all of the first five are rendered the same, in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th way. If the 4th or 5th way is selected, the 6th and 7th line are not affected. If the 2nd or 3rd way is selected, the 6th and 7th line are rendered accordingly, without the year.

The setting also affects what wikitext the signature of the user produces. Since dates in signatures are not linked, this determines how the date is rendered for everybody, and this can not be changed retroactively, except by editing the pages with the signature.

Note that using this date formatting feature in section headers complicates section linking: a link to a section with a variable date format has to be set in a fixed date format, which works only for users for whom the formats match. Thus, if you want to be able to use links like w:November_2004#November_1.2C_2004, in the calendar at the upper right of the month pages on Wikipedia, or links elsewhere to the section about a particular day (if they also use the default format), you cannot use the date formatting feature.

See also m:Dynamic dates and w:en:Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Dates.

Time zone

Time zone
Server time is now: 06:34
Local time display: 08:34
* Enter number of hours your local time differs from server time (UTC).
  • Time diff. This is the number of hours to be added or subtracted from UTC to find your time zone. This time zone is used when calculating displayed page update timestamps, and 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.) A scattering of typical (and possibly incorrect!) time diff values are below. If yours isn't listed, try this link or add and subtract a few hours as needed.

The time is displayed in local time, according to the set preferences, in:

The UTC time is applicable:

  • In the signing of Talk pages
  • In the Upload log
  • In referring to non-localized events, including things that happen on the wiki.

Keep this in mind when copying an excerpt from Recent Changes, a revision history listing, etc. 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.


Rows:           Columns:  
o Edit box has full width
o Show edit toolbar
o Show preview on first edit
o Show preview before edit box and not after it
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
  • Rows, Columns. Here you can set up your preferred dimensions for the textbox used for editing page text.
  • 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.
  • Show preview before edit box and not after it. 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 you edit to your watchlist. If this option is selected, any pages that you create or 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 Help:External editors.
  • Use external diff by default. (New to 1.5) Changes diffing from online version to external program. See Help:External editors.

Recent changes and stub display

Number of titles in recent changes: 
o Hide minor edits in recent changes
o Enhanced recent changes (not for all browsers)
Threshold for stub display: 
  • 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, but not to the watchlist.
  • Threshold for stub display: see Stub feature.

Search result settings

Hits to show per page: 
Lines to show per hit: 
Characters of context per line: 
Search in these namespaces by default:(Main) Talk User User talk Meta
Meta talk Image Image talk MediaWiki MediaWiki talk Template Template
talk Help Help talk Category Category talk Hilfe Hilfe Diskussion Aide
Discussion Aide Hjælp Hjælp diskussion Helpo Helpa diskuto Hjälp Hjälp
diskussion Ayuda Ayuda Discusión Aiuto Discussioni aiuto ヘルプ ヘルプ‐ノート
NL Help Overleg help Pomoc Dyskusja pomocy Ajuda Aju
  • 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.

Misc settings

Show hoverbox over wiki links
Underline links
Format broken links like this (alternative: like this?).
Justify paragraphs
Auto-number headings
Edit pages on double click (JavaScript)
Enable section editing via [edit] links
Enable section editing by right clicking
on section titles (JavaScript)
Show table of contents
(for pages with more than 3 headings)
Disable page caching
  • Show hoverbox over wiki links. This option determines whether a link title is put in the HTML code. The result depends on the browser: putting the mouse pointer over a link often displays this title in a hover box. However, some browsers show the URL anyway, so a link title may be superfluous. If enabled, the link title is the page name in the case of an internal link, the page name with prefix in the case of an interwiki link, and the URL in the case of an external link.
  • 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. There is some discussion of changing the default here: see m:Link style vote
  • Format broken links 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: The weather in London?. The appearance of the link is further determined by the style specified for css selectors "" and "" (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: the weather in London. 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.
  • Edit pages on double click. If this box is checked, you can double-click on a page to edit it. This option requires JavaScript to be enabled in your browser.
  • Enable section editing via [edit] links. Shows or hides the [Edit] links on section titles.
  • Enable section editing by right-clicking on section titles (JavaScript). Note that in the case of a header with a link (which may occur, although it is not recommended in some projects) this disables opening the link in a new window through right-clicking (an alternative way such as shift-clicking may work). Also other right-clicking functions, such as "Properties", are disabled.
  • Show table of contents (for articles with more than 3 headings)
  • 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.



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 developer 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.)

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.

Wikiquote-specific content

Help contents - all pages in the Help namespace: Meta b: c: n: w: q: wikisource wiktionary

Reading: Overview | Go | Search | URL | Namespace | Page name | Section | Link | Backlinks | Piped link | Interwiki link | Redirect | Variable | Category
Tracking changes: Recent | (enhanced) | Related | Watching pages | Page history | Diff | User contributions | Edit summary | Minor edit
Logging in and preferences: Logging in | Preferences | User style
Editing: Overview| New page | Images/files | Image description page | Special characters | Formula | Table | EasyTimeline | Template intro | Renaming (moving) a page | Automatic conversion of wikitext | Talk page | Testing | rlc
Projects: Meta (master page) | Wikibooks | Wikicommons | Wikinews | Wikipedia | Wikiquote | Wikisource | Wiktionary
For other languages see Meta.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: