Wikipedia, as a website powered by MediaWiki (a wiki software), is a skinnable website, which means the presentation (look and feel) of the pages can be changed. As of February 2022 there are five available skins: Vector 2022 (default on desktop), Vector 2010, Minerva Neue (mobile), MonoBook, and Timeless. The following screenshots show the current skins along with preview links that allow anyone to load this page using them:

Vector 2022 (preview)
Vector 2010 (preview)
MonoBook (preview)
Timeless (preview)
Minerva Neue (preview)

How to change the skin Edit

Once you have an account and logged in, go to Special:Preferences and the "Skin" section of its Appearance tab. With the default skin, the Preferences page can be accessed at any time from the links placed in the top right corner. Choose your skin and then click Publish changes. Then, all pages will be loaded with the new selected skin.

If you are not logged in, you can only use the default skin (Vector 2022) normally, however, any user may change the skin of one page at a time by adding ?useskin=skinname to the end of the URL, or &useskin=skinname for page URLs which already include a ? (e.g., ?useskin=vector or ?useskin=vector-2022).

Skin selection bookmarklet Edit

You may want to create a bookmarklet in your local web browser in order to easily switch skin of any page (including articles and pages without {{select skin}} templates) with the click of a button.

For example, to create a bookmark to change the current page to MonoBook:

  1. Create a bookmark in your browser
  2. Edit the bookmark (or change its so-called properties) so that the address field reads this exactly:
    javascript:var url = new URL(location.href); url.searchParams.set('useskin', 'monobook'); location.href = url;
  3. Use the apostrophe found on your keyboard (not typographer's quotes)

This works whether you are logged in or logged out; it works even if you don't have a user account at all. If you have any questions or suggestions related to this, the correct venue is WP:VPT. Be sure to link to [[Wikipedia:Skin#Skin selection bookmarklet]] in your request.

Limitations Edit

You must click it again each time you navigate to another page (if you would like to view the page to which you navigated in that special skin). Nevertheless, various browser add-ons allow you to circumvent this issue (a list of these add-ons and how to use them is however out of scope of this page).

Customisation Edit

Default Wikipedia skins are defined in several CSS and JavaScript files. Some of them are only editable by people having write access to the Wikimedia Foundation servers, and some are simple wiki pages belonging to the MediaWiki namespace. These wiki pages can be seen directly on Wikipedia, but to prevent vandals from breaking the whole website appearance, they are fully protected, hence making them only editable by administrators (however, any changes can be suggested on their talk page). See Wikipedia:Catalogue of CSS classes.

Users can customise the way default skins appear using specific subpages of their user page. These subpages are viewable by anybody but can only be edited by the user that the subpage belongs to and by administrators. Modifying these wiki pages only affects their owner.

Customisation may involve one or both of

  1. Cascading Style Sheets or "CSS" (found in the user's ".css" files)
  2. JavaScript (found in the user's ".js" files)

There are two ways to apply customisation:

  1. Using Special:MyPage/common.css and Special:MyPage/common.js links, which point to a location which applies to all of a user's skins.
  2. Using Special:MyPage/skin.css and Special:MyPage/skin.js links which point to a location which applies only to a user's current skin. For example, if you're using the default Vector 2010 skin, Special:MyPage/skin.css takes you to Special:MyPage/vector.css, and if you switch skins to MonoBook, its contents will no longer apply.

You can use both the common and the skin-specific files; if you do this, the common file is loaded before the skin-specific one.

Note: these links are redirects to your own customisation subpages; Special:MyPage is an alias for your userpage (try it and see). For example, when your username is Example, Special:MyPage/common.css will direct you to User:Example/common.css.

After you have edited your personal skin files, if the changes do not appear right away, you may need to wait 30 seconds or more for the servers to update, then bypass your browser cache to see the change.

See also How to import MonoBook settings into Vector. For the list of all CSS and JavaScript files involved in the rendering process, see Wikipedia:Catalogue of CSS classes.

CSS Edit

The CSS files can be used for all manner of customisation for those fluent in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). A common use which is relatively straightforward is hiding a system message or template you don't wish to see; see Wikipedia:Customisation#Hiding specific messages.

JavaScript Edit

On Wikipedia, JavaScript can be used to add new features such as add find/replace textboxes or give advanced rollback options. There are scripts to customise everything, from default font style to custom buttons.

Many script pages can be imported and used. Different scripts can also be used in conjunction with each other to accomplish several tasks at once. Some scripts are available as "Gadgets", which means they can be installed by simply ticking a box in the "Gadgets" tab of Special:Preferences.

In order to add pre-existing scripts to your JavaScript page, add {{subst:js|name of script}} to the file. More detailed instructions can be found at the Wikipedia:User scripts/Guide.

"Global" CSS and JavaScript Edit

Additionally to the above, you can also create files at meta:Special:MyPage/global.css and meta:Special:MyPage/global.js. These will then be loaded on all Wikimedia wikis.

Deprecated skins Edit

Modern (preview)
Cologne Blue (preview)

The Modern and Cologne Blue skins are deprecated. They can no longer be selected as default skins, but users who had previously selected them can still use them, and they can still be viewed temporarily using the ?useskin URL parameter. They are no longer maintained, so some features may not work on them and any bugs in them will probably not be fixed.

Cologne Blue was created in 2002 and deprecated in 2019; see Tech News, discussion on Wikipedia, and Phabricator. Modern was created in 2008 and deprecated in 2021; see Phabricator, Wikipedia discussion #1, Wikipedia discussion #2, Wikipedia discussion #3.

If you absolutely must use either of these skins, you can enable them by viewing Special:Preferences in the relevant skin:

Removed skins Edit

The Nostalgia skin, which was the original Wikipedia skin c. 2001, is only available on the Nostalgia Wikipedia.

The following skins were removed in 2013 due to low usage numbers and lack of support:

  • Chick
  • MySkin
  • Simple
  • Standard (AKA Classic; the default skin c. 2002)

External links Edit