Kiwix: download Wikipedia to your computer or Android for offline access

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 11, 2013
Updated • Aug 11, 2013

Back in the days when the first offline solutions for Wikipedia were introduced, you often did not have enough space on your mobile device to really add a larger section of the site on it. Storage space has increased on mobile devices today so that it is no longer a big issue to download two or three Gigabyte of data to the device.

As far as PCs are concerned, this was never really that much of an issue unless you are running a PC with a single Solid State Drive that has 128 Gigabytes or less of space.

Kiwix is a portable solution for desktop systems, like Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and also for Android-based devices. It is a lightweight software / application that you can use to download Wikipedia contents to it so that you can browse those contents at anytime, even when you are offline.

As far as the PC version is concerned: you download the latest version of Kiwix from the official project website and extract it afterwards on your system. This is just the program interface and backend though. You are asked if you want to check out the newest libraries available when you first run the program, and you should, as you get a large list of Wikipedia-related libraries displayed to you then that you can download to your system.

One thing that you may want to do right away is to switch the language filter to one of the available languages to limit the results listing.

Each library is displayed with its name, icon, size, and the day it has been created. You need to pay attention to the size, as individual libraries can reach almost 10 Gigabytes of space.

Simply click on the download button to download one of the libraries to your system. The progress is displayed right on the screen, and once downloads complete, you are asked whether you want to open the newly downloaded Wiki right away.

Tip: The files you download are stored under C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\\Kiwix\Profiles\[random].default even if you download and run the portable version. It is definitely not ideal as it does not make it fully portable after all. What you can do however is move those downloaded zim files to the directory of the application, and load them from there manually.

kiwix wikipedia offline browser

The individual Wikis that you have downloaded open up on a homepage that highlight some of the articles available on it. You can alternatively use the search to find information you are interested in. Search is probably the better option here, and the first time you try to search you are asked if you want to create an index to speed up searches. It is highly recommended as you do but will add more data to your drive in the process.

This process may take some time depending on the size of the Wiki that you have downloaded.

The browser ships with a couple of extra features that you can use, like options to zoom in or out, print articles, use on-page find to find words or phrases, or add articles to your bookmarks for easier access.

What is not so good is that you can only switch between libraries from the "recently opened" menu under File. If a library is not listed here, it needs to be opened from the disk again.


If you want to access Wikipedia on your local computer or on Android, then Kiwix is certainly one of the better options that you have for that. The program is really easy to use, and the built-in downloader works just fine.

It has a couple of issues, like the saving of new library files in a different folder even if you are running a portable version of the program, or the lack of switching options.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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