10 Wikipedia Encyclopedia Usability Userscripts

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 11, 2010
Updated • Nov 28, 2016
Firefox, userscripts

Wikipedia: almost every Internet user has heard that name before and chance is they have been - intentionally or not - on the website of the popular online encyclopedia at least once. Wikipedia is a good starting point to find information about a topic on the Internet. Most users access the site through web searches or from sites linking to it.

Wikipedia is on the other hand a rather messy site with lots and lots of links, menus and information that are often not related to the topic the user is researching.

Userscripts are small scripts that change the information that are displayed on a website they have been configured for.

They can change, remove or add information to those pages. Userscripts are supported natively by the Google Chrome browser. Firefox users need to install the Greasemonkey extension first. Classic Opera users might want to take a look at Greasemonkey in Opera and Internet Explorer users at the plugin Trixie.

10 Wikipedia Encyclopedia Usability Userscripts

The following list informs you about ten userscripts to modify Wikipedia in several ways.

Update: Please note that some of these user scripts have not been updated for years. They will likely not work anymore.

We have added a selection of working userscripts to the end of the article to make up for that.


If you think that Wikipedia is too crowded and filled with unrelated information then Simplepedia is for you. The userscript removes much of the excess on the pages turning Wikipedia into a simple but effective information powerhouse. The starting page has been redesigned to only provide access to a search form, much like Google does with Google Search.

The individual pages on Wikipedia have also been redesigned. Away with all the information in the header and sidebar. Only the relevant information, a search form and the footer information are displayed so that it becomes much easier to access the information on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia Inline Article Viewer

Wikipedia uses a keyword listing to link to other articles on their website automatically. This can accumulate to hundreds of links on a single page that lead to other Wikipedia entries. A click on a link normally loads the new page in the same browser tab. Some users might prefer to access the information directly instead.

That is what the Wikipedia Inline Article Viewer helps with. It will display the linked articles in an iframe on the same site making it possible to browser the linked page without leaving the current one.

Multi-column articles

Wikipedia provides access to a printable version of all articles hosted on the site. The printable version is not optimized.

The multi-column articles userscript has been designed to change that. It turns printable Wikipedia pages into a multi-column layout so that the printout is optimized. Some users might even prefer to read the articles in that mode as it resembles the design of newspapers. The extension is not working in Google Chrome currently but a port seems to be in the making.



Most Wikipedia articles can be edited by anyone. Wikipedia displays an edit page with some basic text editing controls at the top. Most of the editing has to be done manually though.

WikiEd adds more controls to the top of the edit article window at Wikipedia. Some of the features that are added are syntax highlighting, search and replace operations with regular expression support, following links from the edit area, fullscreen text editing and pasting formatted text into the editor.

Wikipedia Clean and Professional

wikipedia professional

If Simplepedia was simply overkill in your eyes you may want to check out this userscript which does change the layout of Wikipedia encyclopedia articles as well. It gets rid of most navigational elements as well but uses a different layout and design to present the articles to the user.

Wikipedia Large Images (no longer available)

wikipedia images

Most articles on Wikipedia contain images that are usually displayed as thumbnails. A click on an image will load an extra page where it is shown in full size. The Wikipedia Large Images userscript displays a larger version of the image when the user hovers the mouse over the image on the Wikipedia page which effectively means that it is no longer necessary to visit the image pages to get a closer look.

Google in Wikipedia (no longer available)

The name of this userscript is a bit misleading. It adds links to searches on other Internet sites at the top of the Wikipedia page. This includes Google Image search, IMDB, eBay, Video and Music searches.

Secure Wiki

Makes sure that a https connection is used to access Wikipedia and its sister sites. This can be helpful when users log into Wikipedia to edit pages. It is also possible to open the https connections manually but this userscript makes sure that it will never be forgotten.

Wikipedia cursor2input!

Wikipedia places the cursor on the page in the search text field on its main page only. This is not the default behavior on article pages. This userscript places the cursor on Wikipedia article pages in the search form as well so that it becomes possible to type the search phrase right away.

Wikipedia Printable Version

The printable pages of Wikipedia articles display only the contents of the article and no navigational elements. This userscript redirects every Wikipedia page to their printable page which is handy for users who usually print Wikipedia pages and users who prefer a distraction free experience.

Are you a Wikipedia regular? Have you found other userscripts, browser add-ons or bookmarklets to improve the online encyclopedia? Let us know in the comments.

New Wikipedia userscripts (2016)

Here is a short list of new userscripts for Wikipedia. These have been created or updated this year.

  1. Always Desktop Wikipedia -- This redirects always to the desktop version of Wikipedia and not the mobile version.
  2. WikiIndent -- The script improves the layout of Wikipedia by hiding the sidebar, floating the table of content, and converting heading underlines to overlines.
  3. Wikiwand Global -- A total conversion of the Wikipedia web page to make it look nicer and improve readability.
10 Wikipedia Encyclopedia Usability Userscripts
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10 Wikipedia Encyclopedia Usability Userscripts
The article describes ten userscripts for the encyclopedic website Wikipedia that improve readability or functionality of the site.
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  1. leon187 said on September 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for help Nihiltres, the built in pop-up feature is very useful.

  2. Nihiltres said on April 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    If you register a user account on Wikipedia, there are more improvements you can get. First, you have user preferences, and not only do those preferences include core things you can change, they also include a “Gadgets” section where a simple checkbox can enable some useful tools, including WikEd, a “popups” extension that’s like some of the inline viewers you’re talking about, and even little tweak like focusing the cursor in the search bar on loading the Main Page (this isn’t done by default because users expect to be able to scroll using arrows).

    Now, these are mostly the best, most general ones, and for ones which are browser-specific, unstable, or not widely appreciated, you’ll want to use your custom user JavaScript or CSS. Once logged-in, go to a user subpage corresponding to the skin you’re using, followed by an extension of either .js or .css . So, for example, my user JavaScript is over at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nihiltres/vector.js , as I’m using the new Vector skin (see e.g http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Main_Page&useskin=vector ). From this subpage, you can insert arbitrary JavaScript (or, on pages ending in “.css”, CSS) that will be executed just for you. Only you and admins will be able to edit your user subpages that end in “.js” or “.css”.

    I’ve written a few basic little scripts (I’m a newbie to JS) that do things like toggle the sidebar, add extra tabs that are useful for me (as an admin), that sort of thing. There’s a lot of potential, and if someone comes up with a popular, widely-compatible script, please suggest that it be added as a Gadget through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Gadget .

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