Wikipedia adds page preview functionality

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 23, 2018

Browsing on the world's largest community powered online encyclopedia Wikipedia just got a whole lot easier thanks to the integration of page preview functionality on the site.

The new feature displays a preview of any internal Wikipedia link that you hover the mouse cursor over. Just hover the mouse over any link on the site to display the preview.

The feature is new to the English version of Wikipedia, but it has been part of other locales supported by Wikipedia, like the German version of the site, already.

Previews include the first lines of text and an image if available. It may take a brief moment before the preview is displayed as it needs to be loaded.

If your Internet connection is speedy, you may see little to no delay before the preview is brought up on the screen.

wikipedia link previews

Wikipedia announced the change last week on the official Wikimedia blog. Wikimedia engineers ran A/B tests to test the feature to find out whether it improved the user experience on the site.

Our testing shows that the feature makes it easier and more efficient for Wikipedia readers to interact with our content and get more context about a topic on Wikipedia.

Page previews on Wikipedia solve a long-standing usability issue on link-heavy sites such as Wikipedia. Wikipedia articles may have dozens or even hundreds of links, and going back and forth between different links does not offer the best user experience.

While link previews don't solve the issue completely, as previews may not provide you with the answers that you are looking for, they'll certainly improve usability in cases where previews display enough information to read on without having to open an entire article on Wikipedia.

page preview wikipedia

Wikipedia users who dislike the new page preview functionality or don't need it can disable it. Here is how you do so:

  1. Hover over any internal link on Wikipedia to display the page preview.
  2. Click on the cogwheel icon in then lower right corner of the preview window.
  3. Switch the page preview feature to "disable".
  4. Select Save.

Page previews are disabled immediately after you hit the save button. You may enable previews again in the following way:

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of any Wikipedia page.
  2. Select "enable previews"
  3. Switch the setting to "enable"
  4. Click on the Save button.

Wikipedia is not the first site or service that introduces page preview functionality. Google launched Instant Previews for Google Search back in 2010 but pulled it again. Some extensions, Hovercard for Chrome, offered similar functionality for select sites.

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  1. Vivian said on November 1, 2020 at 12:47 am

    The link at the bottom of the page to re-enable previews is not working – if I click it, nothing happens – no option to re-enable previews.
    Please make this work! I miss having link previews.

  2. Pleb said on January 15, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Following these directions doesn’t work anymore. There is no option to “enable previews” at the bottom of a wiki page. I’m still looking for a way.

  3. Phylis Sophical said on April 24, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Love it! Now if someone would just do the same for a FireFox add-on to replace CoolPreview. Obviously it’s possible.

  4. Heimen Stoffels said on April 24, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Page previews were already available in Beta for a long, long time on the English Wikipedia and various other localized ones (the Dutch and German one, for example). Just go to your account settings and opt-in to beta features, that’s all it takes (of course, it’s not being rolled out gradually, but you get my point).

  5. Anonymous said on April 24, 2018 at 3:15 am

    If you want to disable Wikipedia’s page preview functionality using uBlock Origin (i.e. in case you clear your browser cookies often) you can try adding these to your filters in the settings of the extension:


    Personally, I find the popups a bit distracting since accidentally hovering over links can cause them to appear while reading an article and they also make the page feel more cluttered. Thankfully Wikipedia made it easy to disable them.

    1. n said on July 2, 2018 at 9:45 pm

      thank you for these filters. i’ve been trying to figure this one out.

  6. Ross Presser said on April 23, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    This feature was available to every logged in Wikipedia user at least a decade ago, by using a particular custom javascript.

  7. Tom Hawack said on April 23, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I appreciate Wikipedia’s new built-in page preview feature. As well that I’m fond (to put it mildly) of ” the world’s largest community powered online encyclopedia” and refer to it intensively : the amount of information is amazing.

    Amount of information is one thing, and some may argue that given the open status of the encyclopedia, one comment, description, explanation may be overwritten anyone (given that anyone is registered, need to say). It’s an encyclopedia for the people, by the people and, whatever some may believe, there are firewalls.

    The analogy with a GitHub repository evoked above by ‘WashingtonPost Reporter’ has its limits : documentation belongs to no one (even if a literary work does), facts, detailed, explained belong to no one. Of course a Wikipedia article may be copy/pasted (Hi, those of you, students and even authors who have done that!) but the fact an article may be overwritten, edited and sometimes even in total contradictory terms is the price to pay for a democratic approach of knowledge. I who often consult Wikipedia may affirm that not so many articles (anyway in proportion of them all) are edited in a compulsive and quite often political way; hot/burning topics once in a while but generally speaking the open encyclopedia is a calm area of lecture.

    If I was asked what websites’ disappearance would annoy me the most, Wikipedia would undoubtedly be in the top three.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on April 24, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      I concur entirely.

    2. WashingtonPost Reporter said on April 23, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      > democratic approach of knowledge

      Knowledge was never and has never been democratic as anyone who has the slightest clue about what he/she’s talking about can infer.

      There are about 20 edits per SECOND on wikimedia domains and 800 new articles every day just on the english wiki you think people (including volunteers) can keep up with that? (From my experience it’s VERY easy to do troll edits on not famous pages, long time wiki editors follow Wikipedia pages that they’re interested in and can check back to see if there’s some bad edit but for other topics it’s very easy to do a rampage when no one follows them) I don’t know how you can’t realize the obvious thing that wikipedia is non-maintainable!

      > If I was asked what websites’ disappearance would annoy me the most, Wikipedia would undoubtedly be in the top three.

      lol first, scihub second, youtube third, fourth, fifth, github sixth, … and loads of others. It would be great to see Wikipedia disappear so that people finally stop wasting time on such meaningless clueless pointless non-maintainable project, literally cleaning up your toe nail is a better use of your time than that.

      1. Tom Hawack said on April 23, 2018 at 9:06 pm

        @WashingtonPost Reporter,
        “Knowledge was never and has never been democratic as anyone who has the slightest clue about what he/she’s talking about can infer.”

        Knowledge implies truth. Truth can be bypassed willingly (fake news) and by lack of talent (mistakes). Maybe is the risk of encountering one or the other significantly reduced when several contributors share their “truths”, and even more if the debate is not consensual. It’s pluralism, with the risk indeed that professional ‘fakers” intervene. I consider the worst scenarios of pluralism always preferable to a whatever excellency of one and one only debater.

        Who is to tell the truth and, moreover, to believe blindly what is said, written, expressed?
        Democracy is not only a political ideal, it also happens to be the best tool when querying for information, be it plain news, editorials or more elaborated (often, not always) sources of knowledge such as an encyclopedia.

        I’m stunned always when observing that several disciplines (i.e. history, sociology, even psychology and several others) seem to less elaborate on the ground of dialogs than on the basis of references to “schools” of each discipline, often originating in the expression of one and one only “big thinker”, mastermind so to say. That’s the scenario by analogy of a Web where we’d have one ideology per Web encyclopedia. I conceive the Wikipedia experience as the opposite : freedom of different approaches united (willingly or not) in one aim : discover.

      2. Shannana said on May 27, 2018 at 7:38 pm

        @Tom Hawack

        I agree with your take on Wikipedia and such.

        As a young lad in the ’70s and ’80s, I spent much of my spare time reading my dusty set of Encyclopedia Britannica that was published in the late ’60s. Then years later, I started to discover that some of what I had learned there was outdated and/or considered wrong. Much of this had to do with the history of western colonization around the world.

        As such, I learned early on to consider that all knowledge is questionable, and as such I treat Wikipedia as a tool, and it serves me well, along side other sources/tools made to me via the web.

        Yet I guess many folks don’t understand the limitations of knowledge, where they always expect perfection. I imagine with many commercial encyclopedias, they may think they are getting perfection, whereas Wikipedia is raw, exposing the truth that the so-called truth is always changing. I imagine such truth makes some folks feel uncomfortable.

        That said, I still have that old set of Encyclopedia Britannica, and some of that stuff that was considered wrong, is once again relevant again.

        That said, I’ve always considered all knowledge relevant and always arguable.

        And so it goes.

      3. WashingtonPost Reporter said on April 24, 2018 at 10:28 am

        @Tom Hawack

        Still no proof for that statement, and the fact of the matter is: Wiki doesn’t go around and ask all of their editors about something in a something article, it’s either the trolls who win, the deceivers or the serious (but mediocre) average editors.

        Also no comment on Wikipedia’s non-maintainable aspect.

      4. Klaas Vaak said on April 24, 2018 at 12:24 pm

        @ WaPo reporter: Why do you use Wikipedia if you despise it? Or do you just like to see your words in print here?

  8. Weilan said on April 23, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve had this for months already without doing a thing, it’s a nice feature.

  9. chesscanoe said on April 23, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    I like page preview by default, since it is so easy to disable it when it is annoying.

  10. Ron said on April 23, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    I don’t like this new feature. Sometimes I move the cursor over a link inadvertently and get a big pop-up I don’t want.

    1. itsaracket said on April 23, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      Good thing you can turn it off, eh?

      Hover over a link, click the gear box > disable > save.

      1. Ron said on April 23, 2018 at 5:04 pm

        Thanks for the tip.

      2. Klaas Vaak said on April 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

        The tip is also in Martin’s text.

  11. WashingtonPost Reporter said on April 23, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Imagine you have a Github repository where everyone (even those without a Github account) can change the code, what do you imagine that would look like? Wikipedia! The most stupid concept of a website that is being taken seriously, it literally requires an infinite amount of maintenance burden. Scihub alone does more good to the world than a everyone-has-access-git-repository. (Also read on the shady history of Wikipedia’s founder)

    1. Klaas Vaak said on April 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Typical WaPo nonsense; you’re completely off topic.

    1. Joe Blow said on April 24, 2018 at 2:37 am

      Thats great, now if I could only disable the stupid mouse-over pop-up feature.

    2. John Smith said on April 23, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Not really. It’s a cause for concern about the editorial standards, but it’s not “everything you need to know” and not it’s even relevant to this article.

    3. Sebas said on April 23, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks for this link, I cancelled my donation to Wikipedia just in time. The Daily Mail did have a interview with a Muslim police officer, shortly after the massacre in Manchester, now about one year ago. In it he made some suggestions how to deal with the registered islamists in the UK, willing to murder people. Good stuff to read.

    4. Yuliya said on April 23, 2018 at 3:18 pm

      >daily mail
      Those webstites should be banned from the internet entirely.

      1. Ron said on April 23, 2018 at 3:51 pm

        Why? Cause YOU don’t like them? I think all things I don’t like should be banned.

      2. Blah said on April 23, 2018 at 7:10 pm

        The Daily Mail’s fact checking ability was first made apparent when it ran the headline on April 16, 1912, “Titanic Sunk. No Lives Lost. Collision with an Iceberg. Largest Ship in the World. 2,358 Lives in Peril. Rush of Liners to the Rescue. All Passengers Taken Off.”

      3. MdN said on April 23, 2018 at 5:18 pm

        Because Daily Mail is only slightly more trustworthy than RT, which is just a state sponsored news parody website. Remember when DM made Joerg Sprave look like a terrorist just to have a catchy title and more clicks?

      4. Klaas Vaak said on April 24, 2018 at 12:19 pm

        For people suffering from anti-Russia hysteria RT is too scary to read, they cannot cope with facts and the basic truths.

      5. Gary D said on April 24, 2018 at 10:53 am


        “Because Daily Mail is only slightly more trustworthy than RT, which is just a state sponsored news parody website.”

        You mean like that fearless beacon of truth, Pravda.
        we all know Pravda only writes the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or, at least, the version authorised by that wonderful advocate of free speech Vladimir Putin.

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