Help:Preferences

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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.

Logging in and setting preferences are 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.

QuickBar

Prefs help - quickbar.png

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 anyway.

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.

Password

Prefs help - password.png

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.)

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 causes very often trouble for new users.

Skins

Skin
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 new 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.

Screenshots:

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

Rendering math

Prefs help - rendering math.png

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.
  • 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.

Miscellaneous options

Prefs help - misc.png

  • 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 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 "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: 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.
  • 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 (send ideas for improvement to Magnus Manske, the author of this feature).
  • Auto-number headings. This adds hierarchical outline-style numbering to headers in articles.
  • Show edit toolbar. In compatible browsers, a toolbar with editing buttons can be displayed.
  • 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
  • Enable section editing by right clicking on section titles (JavaScript)
  • Show table of contents (for articles with more than 3 headings)
  • Remember password across sessions. Enabling this feature will place a 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.
  • 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.
  • Add pages you edit to your watchlist. If this option is selected, any articles 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.
  • Show preview before edit box and not after it. If you select this option, the preview will be displayed above the exit box when you click the "Show preview" button while editing a page.
  • 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.

Textbox and Time

Prefs help - text time.png

  • Textbox dimensions. Here you can set up your preferred dimensions for the textbox used for editing page text.
  • 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.

User data, search, etc.

Prefs help - misc 2.png

  • 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: You may optionally specify a nickname that is different from your username when you enter your signature with ~~~ or ~~~~. However, there is even more versatility. The software enters [[User:Name| in front and ]] in the back of your signature. So entering ]] | [[User talk:Name|Talk as your signature will also include a link to your talk page.
Also you can add a separator, so that the signature looks something like this: — Name | Talk. The code [[User:Name| in front of whatever you put in this box can be effectively cancelled putting <nowiki></nowiki>]] at the front of your nick. Thus you can put e.g. <nowiki></nowiki>]] &mdash; [[User:Name|Name]] | [[User talk:Name|Talk. If you use the edit toolbar for signing, remember that it gives two dashes before the four tildes.
  • 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.
  • Threshold for stub display: Links to articles (i.e. pages in the main namespace which are not redirects) with fewer characters than the amount you may specify here (e.g. 500, 1000, etc.) will be displayed in a different color (according to css-class 'stub'). Helpful for identifying stubs.
  • 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 paragrahs, 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.

Notes

You cannot change your username yourself, but you may ask a developer to do so. 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.

Specifying that the colors specified in the web page are ignored is not recommended, because they are useful in the diff.

Providing your own CSS

Cascading Style Sheets are used to configure MediaWiki's visual appearance. When using the MonoBook skin, you can specify your own CSS definitions and overwrite the default settings.

If you e.g. want to change the background colors of the diff page, these are the rules to edit in your user stylesheet (User:Yourname/monobook.css):

/*
** Diff rendering
*/
table.diff {
   background:white;
}
td.diff-otitle {
   background:#ffffff;
}
td.diff-ntitle {
   background:#ffffff;
}
td.diff-addedline {
   background:#ccffcc;
}
td.diff-deletedline {
   background:#ffffaa;
}
td.diff-context {
   background:#eeeeee;
}

The font size in the edit box is independent of the font size of the other text. It can be changed with something like:

textarea {font-size: 100%}

See also User styles.