|MediaWiki Handbook: Contents, Readers, Editors, Moderators, System admins +/-|
The preferences page, linked from the top of every page, and also at Special:Preferences, allows each user to personalize some elements of a Wikimedia wiki to suit.
Changes to your preferences will apply only when you are logged in.
User profile 
The User profile tab contains information and basic settings relating to your user account.
- The name of your user account. You cannot change this name yourself; see Changing username below.
- User ID
- Your internal account ID number on the wiki. A small number indicates that you were one of the first to create an account on that wiki.
- Member of groups
- The names of the user groups you belong to. These provide you with certain "rights" (powers to carry out certain actions). See Help:Group rights.
- Number of edits
- The total number of edits you have made on the wiki; see Help:User contributions#Number of edits.
- Global account status
- This section provides a summary of the status of your global account. The phrase "All in order!" appears when your global account is fully connected and working properly. See Help:Unified login for more information.
- This option allows you to select a gender (male or female), or unspecified. This option is designed for languages where, unlike English, the grammar of user interface text can change depending on your gender. As such, this option is not meaningful for English users at present. The gender you select is public, but not readily viewable.
- Click the Change Password link to go to a simple page where you can change your wiki password.
- Remember my login on this computer
- This option is equivalent to the "Remember my login" or "Remember me" option on the login page. You can use this option to create (if selected) or delete (if de-selected) a cookie that will remember your login details, so you do not need to log in every time you visit the wiki. The cookie expires automatically after 180 days, for security reasons. See Help:Logging in.
- Allows you to specify the language in which the site interface will be displayed to you. See Help:System messages. There are some limitations:
- If the wiki's sidebar contains hard-coded custom labels, these are in effect for all interface languages, and will not change according to this setting.
- The interface language does not affect namespace names; they are determined by the site's main language. 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.
- Preview of existing signature
- This shows how your current signature will appear whenever you sign with ~~~~ on a wiki page.
- Nickname/Signature text
- 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 "<" rendered as "<".
- Wikitext signature
- This option tells the wiki to interpret your nickname as wiki-code for your signature, instead of just a nickname. See the Raw signatures section below.
E-mail options 
Wikimedia wikis provide e-mail functionality, whereby forgotten passwords can be returned, and users can contact other users by e-mail without anyone having to reveal their address. Entering your e-mail address is entirely optional.
See Help:Email confirmation for more information about confirming your e-mail address.
- Your e-mail address. This is completely optional. Whenever you enter a new address, you will be required to confirm the change by responding to a message that is sent to that e-mail address.
- E-mail confirmation
- The status of your e-mail address: not specified, need to confirm (in which case you need the click the link in the confirmation e-mail message you were sent), or authenticated.
- Enable e-mail from other users
- This allows other registered users to send you an e-mail using "E-mail this user" link on the sidebar of your user page. Emails are sent using a web interface, and your e-mail address is not revealed to a sender (that is, unless you decide to reply by email).
- Send me copies of emails I send to other users
- This option is helpful for keeping track of messages you have sent using "E-mail this user".
- E-mail me when a page or file on my watchlist is changed
- E-mail me when my user talk page is changed
- E-mail me also for minor edits of pages
- Some of these three options are disabled on some wikis. Check your wiki to see if they are available.
A 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.
- Vector (default): A skin based on Monobook; as well as a new look, it adds a few new features to the wiki interface, particularly in the editing process.
- Cologne Blue: 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 not suitable for a large font.
- Monobook: The "classic" look that was seen on most wikis from 2005 to 2010. In Monobook, the width of the panel on the left is dependent on the font size. Therefore, with a large font or a small screen size, the width of the main part of the page is smaller than with other skins.
Links at the edges of the page are in different positions. Some links are not present in every skin.
Since April 2013 the following skins are no longer available in MediaWiki and hence on all Wikimedia wikis (zie Turning off outdated skins):
- Image size limit
- One can specify a limit on the size of images on image description pages. With a slow connection it is not practical to have to load a large image just to read image info. On the other hand, it may be practical if a large image at first is made to fit on the screen.
- Thumbnail size
- The width of thumbnails shown in articles and pages on the wiki. This will be used unless a specific image provides its own thumbnail size.
Advanced options 
- Link underlining
- Here, you can choose whether links will be underlined. the "Browser default" option means the site will honor your browser's setting.
- Having underlining on means you can differentiate between two links side-by-side, like p q and p q. However, underlining means underscores (_) may get lost in the underline, which can pose a problem, particularly with URL links.
- Threshold for stub link formatting (bytes)
- See Stub feature.
- Show table of contents (for pages with more than 3 headings)
- You can use this option to switch off the table of contents on all pages that you visit. See table of contents.
- Disable browser page caching
- This turns off page caching. Use this option only if you know what you are doing - it puts unnecessary strain on the Wikimedia servers.
- Show hidden categories
- Shows categories which are normally hidden, at the bottom of the page.
- Enable "jump to" accessibility links
- Provides two links "Jump to: navigation, search" at the top of each page. These links are normally hidden, except under the Myskin, Chick or Classic skins; they are displayed in browsers lacking CSS support (or with CSS disabled), or read out by screen readers for low vision users. The navigation ("portlet") panel, at the left of the page in Monobook, is at the bottom of the page in these "flat-format" browsers.
- 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.
- Enable collapsing of items in the sidebar in Vector skin
- If you would prefer to see all links on the left sidebar at once, without having to open the different sections, you can turn this option off.
- Exclude me from future experiments
- This option appears on Wikimedia wikis only.
- Don't show the Article feedback widget on pages
- Use this option to hide the Article Feedback display ("Rate this page", "Did you find what you were looking for?", etc) that appears at the bottom of some pages.
- Enable font embedding (Web fonts)
- On some wikis, "downloadable fonts" are used to provide a better appearance for text in the project language. If you don't want this, you can turn off this setting.
Some wikis provide the functionality to include mathematical (TeX) formulas in wiki pages. These options let you control how you see those formulas.
- Always render PNG
- Always display formulas as an image.
- Leave it as TeX
- Don't convert the formula, just show the mathematical TeX code. This is primarily for text-based browsers like Lynx.
Date and time 
On this tab, you can control the appearance of some dates and times, and you can select your time zone.
- Date format
- This setting affects the appearance of timestamps on all special pages, including page histories (as listed below). They appear just like shown here, except in Recent Changes and your watchlist, where date and time are shown in different places. Note that the last option, although rather arcane, 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.
- Time offset
- "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 observe DST. Try this link if you are not sure what your time zone is.
These two options are used to display your local date and time on all special pages, i.e. the pages that are generated automatically and cannot be directly edited:
- Recent changes, Related changes, Watchlist
- Special:Log, Special:Newpages, Special:Imagelist
- Page history, image history, Diff, User contributions
- "This page was last modified" at the bottom of pages
On the other hand, UTC 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.
The options on the Editing tab can fine-tune the process of editing.
- Size of editing window
- Here you can set up your preferred dimensions for the textbox used for editing page text. "Rows" refers to lines of text (height), and "Columns" means the number of characters that will fit across the box (width). The exact size will vary depending on your browser's font size, screen resolution, and other factors. The default is 80 cols x 25 rows.
- Note that, by default, the "columns" setting is ignored, and the edit box will scale to fill the whole available width. If you want your setting to be honored, use a skin such as Chick or Simple.
Advanced options 
- Edit area font style
- You can change the font family of text in the edit area. The browser will determine exactly which font to use, depending on which fonts are available on your computer. "Browser default" will normally provide a
- Show preview before edit box
- If you select this option, the edit preview will be displayed above the edit box when you click the "Show preview" button while editing a page.
- Show preview on first edit
- When pressing the edit button or otherwise following a link to an edit page, a preview will appear, just like after pressing "Show preview".
- Enable section editing via  links
- An edit link will appear beside each sub-heading on a page to allow editing of that subsection only.
- Enable section editing by right-clicking on section titles
- 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, just as if you had clicked the small  link beside the heading.
- Edit pages on double click
- 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, just like what happens when you click on the "edit" tab at the top of the page.
- Show edit toolbar
- In compatible browsers, a toolbar with editing buttons can be displayed. The exact contents of this toolbar will vary, depending on the wiki. See Help:Edit toolbar for detailed help.
- Mark all edits minor by default
- This option automatically selects the "This is a minor edit" checkbox when you edit pages. This option is not available on certain wikis, including the English Wikipedia .
- Use external editor by default
- This feature allows you to edit pages in an external program, rather than using the wiki editing form in your web browser. It requires a special set-up on your computer. See mw:Manual:External editors on the MediaWiki web site for information and setup instructions.
- Use external diff by default
- This is an advanced feature that requires a special set-up on your computer. See mw:Manual:External editors for information and instructions.
- Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary
- If selected, the editor will display a warning message when no edit summary is provided. This can help you remember to provide edit summaries, as they of great use to other editors.
- Use live preview
- This is an experimental feature that speeds up the retrieval of edit previews. When you click the "Show preview" button, the browser will retrieve a preview from the wiki server and display it above the edit box, without needing to reload the page. This is only an experimental feature for the time being.
- Warn me when I leave an edit page with unsaved changes (Vector skin only)
- If you use the Vector skin, this option will give you the chance to go back and save your work if you accidentally close or leave an editing page.
- Enable input method
- Available on certain wikis.
Beta features 
- Enable enhanced editing toolbar
- In compatible browsers, the enhanced toolbar developed as part of the Usability Initiative will be displayed.
- Enable dialogs for inserting links, tables and more
- When inserting some types of content, a dialog box will allow you to customize the content before it is inserted.
Translation options 
On wikis with the Translate extension installed, you can change these options to allow you to translate more efficiently.
Recent changes 
On the Recent changes tab, you can choose what appears on your Recent Changes page (linked in the sidebar, and available at Special:RecentChanges). Some of these options also affect Related Changes, at Special:RecentChangesLinked.
Display options 
- Days to show in recent changes
- The number of days' worth of changes to show in the Recent Changes list. The default is 7 days; the maximum is 30 days. On busy wikis (like English Wikipedia), you will usually only see changes from the last few hours or minutes, regardless of this setting.
- Number of edits to show by default
- You may select the number of changes which will be shown by default on the Recent Changes page, all page "history" tabs, and on some log pages at Special:Log. Links are provided for other options on those pages. The default is 50.
Advanced options 
- Hide minor edits in recent changes
- Hide patrolled edits in recent changes
- Use these options to filter out unwanted changes from the recent changes and related changes pages.
- Hide patrolled pages from new page list
- This option affects Special:NewPages on some wikis. When it is set, all patrolled pages are hidden by default. You can easily show or hide patrolled pages (highlighted in yellow) from the New Pages page.
Note: to enable the "enhanced watchlist", select "Expand watchlist..." on this tab, and then "Use enhanced recent changes" on the Recent Changes tab.
Display options 
- Days to show in watchlist
- The number of days' worth of changes to show in your watchlist. Maximum 30 days (depending on the wiki).
- Maximum number of changes to show in expanded watchlist
- This controls how many recent changes to show for each watched article when "Expand watchlist" is switched on under "Advanced options". Maximum 1000 changes.
Advanced options 
- Expand watchlist to show all changes, not just the most recent
- This option will expand the watchlist to include all changes made to an article within the time-frame of your watchlist, up to a maximum number (as set in "Display options"). Normally, only the most recent modification is shown.
- Hide minor edits from the watchlist
- Hide bot edits from the watchlist
- Hide my edits from the watchlist
- Hide edits by anonymous users from the watchlist
- Hide edits by logged in users from the watchlist
- Use these options to filter out unwanted revisions from the watchlist.
- Hide patrolled edits from the watchlist
- Use this option to filter out patrolled edits (edits made by administrators and so forth). This is particularly useful when monitoring vandalism, as patrolled edits can only be made by trusted users.
- Watchlist token
- If you want an RSS feed to be generated from your watchlist, you can input a secret token here. Anyone who knows this token can use it to access your watchlist. You don't actually need to store this value; when you subscribe to the RSS feed, the browser will store it for you. A randomly-generated token is provided below the text box if you need inspiration.
- Add pages and files I edit to my watchlist
- Add pages and files I move to my watchlist
- Add pages I create and files I upload to my watchlist
- Add pages and files I delete to my watchlist
- Automatically select the check box to "Watch this page" when performing any of these actions. You can de-select the check box on a page if you do not wish to watch that particular page. The final option is only available to users that have the ability to delete pages, such as administrators.
Search options 
The options on the Search options tab let you control how searches are conducted, and how search results appear. The default values of these options may differ on some wikis.
Display options 
- Hits per page
- You may choose the number of results returned on each page of search results. The default is 20.
- Enable simplified search bar (Vector skin only)
- If this option is turned off, the Search box reverts to its traditional look, with separate "Go" and "Search" buttons. Search no longer automatically redirects sometimes to a page. "Go" is the way to do that. When this option is turned on there is only a text-less search button. One is automatically taken to a page in some cases. Also, the search suggestions in the dropdown list are different (on Wikimedia Commons, for example) than the ones presented when this option is turned off.
- Disable AJAX suggestions
- The search box will normally provide a pop-up menu of search suggestions whenever something is entered into the box. The process of retrieving these suggestions can slow down the system on older machines, and it may waste Internet bandwidth. If you don't need this service, you can turn it off.
Advanced options 
- Search in all namespaces
- Search in these namespaces by default
- Shows a list of all namespaces (not the same in all projects), allowing one to select which ones are searched by default; see also Namespaces searched.
This tab contains other options that don't belong anywhere else.
See Help:Diff for general information on diffs (what a diff is, etc).
- Do not show page content below diffs
- Normally, when viewing a diff, the page content as of the second revision is presented. You can turn off this display using this option, to allow for faster loading of diff pages.
- Omit diff after performing a rollback
- When rolling back edits (available on some wikis to some users only), a confirmation page containing a diff will be shown. This option will prevent the display of that page.
The Gadgets tab allows you to enable small add-in features written by users on a particular wiki, which enhance your wiki browsing experience in some way. (This tab requires that the "Gadgets" extension be installed, which is the case on Wikimedia wikis. For technical information about the Gadgets extension, see mw:Extension:Gadgets.)
Each wiki has its own selection of gadgets, and there will often be a page on each wiki containing information about the range of gadgets available.
Pending changes/Edit review 
This tab goes by several different names, like Pending changes and Edit review. It appears only on wikis with the Flagged Revisions or similar system enabled.
Basic interface 
- Use detailed boxes to show review status of pages
- This option displays the review status of pages (accepted, pending, etc.) in a wide banner across the top of the page. Unmissable, but distracting.
- Use small icons and minimal text to show review status of pages
- This option displays the review status of pages in a small box in the top-right of the page content area. More information can be seen by moving the mouse over the box. This is the default.
Which revision to show by default 
- Use the default settings for each page
- Not sure. Documentation needed
- Always show the stable version (if there is one)
- Always show the latest version
- You can choose which revision to see upon visiting a page with Flagged Revisions/Pending Changes turned on.
Threaded discussion 
The Threaded discussion tab appears only on wikis with the LiquidThreads discussion system installed.
- Maximum reply depth to show
- Documentation needed
- Maximum number of replies to show
- Documentation needed
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, but 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:
- Mismatched or incorrectly nested tags
- If the tags are mismatched (for instance:
;<s><u>hi</s></u>), fix them (for instance:
- Unquoted attributes
- It's also recommended to use quotes on all attributes (for instance, use
<font color="white"></font>instead of
- 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
&is always a mistake in either HTML or wikicode).
- Unescaped special characters
- If you are using one of
>, and want it shown as text, it must be escaped as
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.
Providing your own CSS 
See also 
- Special:Allmessages - see terms starting with "tog"
- mw:Manual:Parameters to index.php#Preference overriding
Links to other help pages 
- Help contents
- Meta · Wikinews · Wikipedia · Wikiquote · Wiktionary · Commons: · mw: · b: · s: · mw:Manual · Google
- Versions of this help page (for other languages see below)
- Meta · Wikinews · Wikipedia · Wikiquote · Wiktionary
- What links here on Meta
- Go · Search · Stop words · Namespace · Page name · Section · Backlinks · Redirect · Category · Image page · Special pages · Printable version
- Tracking changes
- Recent changes (enhanced) | Related changes · Watching pages · Diff · Page history · Edit summary · User contributions · Minor edit · Patrolled edit
- Starting a new page · Advanced editing · Editing FAQ · Edit toolbar · Export · Import · Shortcuts · Edit conflict · Page size
- Style and formatting
- Wikitext examples · CSS · Reference card · HTML in wikitext · Formula · List · Table · Sorting · Colors · Images and file uploads
- Advanced functioning
- Expansion · Template · Advanced templates · Parser function · Parameter default · Variable · System message · Substitution · Array · Calculation · Embed page
- Special characters · Renaming (moving) a page · Talk page · Sandbox · Legal issues for editors