How to configure and manage user account options in MediaWiki

In MediaWiki each registered user can configure some account options that are applied only when the user is logged in, and the changes that the user makes apply only to the account of that user. So each user can have a different account configuration. These options can be accessed by clicking on the Preferences button that's usually located in the top right corner of the screen (this is skin-specific). The preferences are organized into several pages that can be changed with the tabs at the top of the page: User profile, Appearance, Editing, Recent changes, Watchlist. In this article we'll go over these options. For more details and screenshots check out the tutorial on how to manage user preferences in MediaWiki.

If you don't want users to be able to configure their account options so that all accounts have the same default configuration, it's possible to disable all user preferences or just particular options. For more details read the article on how to disable the options for user preferences in MediaWiki.

User Profile Options

When you open the user preferences the User profile tab is selected by default. There are several sections with options on that page. The Basic information lists some general information about your account, such as your username, the user groups to which you belong, the number of page edits and the registration time of the account. From there you can also optionally set/change your real name, if you want it to be displayed. With the Change password button you can set a new password.

In the Internationalisation section there's a Language drop-down menu from which you can select the language that you want to be used for the interface of the site (it doesn't affect the language of the content of the articles), and you can also select your gender from the respective radio button (or you can choose not to provide that information).

The Signature section shows your current signature. By default, the username is used. You can specify a new signature in the text field that's provided. Under it there's a checkbox with which you can select whether the signature should be a link to your personal user page on the site.

The Email options section lists your email address and some options related to the email function. The options are only available if you have provided an email address. By default, when registering an account users are not required to provide an email address. From the section with the email options you can change your email address or set one in case you haven't provided any. Note that in order to use the email function and options, in addition to setting an email address, by default users are also required to authenticated that address. This is done by clicking on a link in the confirmation email message that's sent to the address.

The available options depend on the global configuration of the site. If an email option is enabled for the whole site, it will be available in the user preferences and each user can decide whether they want to enable or disable that option for their account. The options that are available by default (if they haven't be specifically disabled for the whole site) are for receiving emails from other users, and for receiving on your own address copies of the emails that you send to other users. The option for enabling/disabling emails from other users concerns only the email form on the site, users can always send you emails with an email client (e.g. Thunderbird, Outlook). Other options that can be enabled for the whole site and thus become available as user account options are for receiving notifications via email for changes to your personal talk page and to pages that are on your watchlist.

After you make any changes don't forget to click on the Save button.

Appearance Options

The Appearance tab displays options with which you can change the default skin with which the site is displayed. You can choose from one of the installed skins. You can also change the format used to show the date and time and you can change the time zone to be used for your site.

The Files section has a couple of options related to file uploads (uploads are disabled by default). From the drop-down menu Image size limit you can select the dimension to be used for the resized preview copy of the image that's shown on the page of the image; you can also change the dimensions for the thumbnail size from the respective drop-down menu.

The Diffs section contains a few options related to comparing the revisions of a page. With the option Do not show page content below diffs you can select whether when comparing the differences between two page revisions the whole content of the page should be shown under the list with the differences. The option Omit diff after performing a rollback is related to the rollback function for undoing page edits performed by users. If the option is enabled, on the page that informs you about the successful rollback the page changes that were reverted will not be listed; if it's disabled there will be a list of the reverted changes.

At the bottom of the page there's a section labeled Advanced options. With the drop-down menu you can select whether links should be always or never underlined, or you can choose to leave that to the default skin or browser configuration. The option for stub links is disabled by default which means that only links to articles that don't exist are formatted as stub links (with red color). If you set a size, all articles that are smaller than the selected size will be formatted as stub links. With the checkbox Show hidden categories you can select whether pages belonging to hidden categories should list these categories, and with the option Auto-number headings you can choose whether sub-headings (section headings) on pages should be numbered.

Editing Options

The Editing tab opens a page with some options related to page editing and the built-in text editor on the form for editing/creating pages.

The General options section has a couple of options with which you can select whether you should be able to edit page sections by clicking on the heading of the section with the right mouse button, and whether you can open the edit form of a page by double-clicking with the left mouse button on its title.

The Editor section has a drop-down menu with which you can change the font style that's used for the text you type in the text area of the editor (this doesn't affect the font with which the content is displayed after saving), and a couple of drop-down menus with which you can change the size of the text area of the editor. There are also a few checkboxes. With Mark all edits minor by default you can set the default behavior of the option on the edit form for marking a page revision as minor. There's an option for prompting you to provide an edit summary in case you have left the respective option on the edit form blank, and an option for warning you when you leave the edit form with unsaved changes. With the option Show edit toolbar you can select whether the toolbar with various buttons (e.g. make bold, italicize, insert link, etc.) should be shown on the edit form.

From the Preview section you can select whether the current content of the page should be shown on the edit form (Show preview on first edit option), and whether the preview with the changes should be shown before or after the text editor. There's also an option for enabling live preview; with live preview only the preview is reloaded instead of the whole page.

Recent Changes Options

With the Recent changes tab on the user preferences page you can access some options that affect the Recent changes page.

The section Display options has a couple of drop-down menu with which you can set the default behavior of the respective filtering options on the Recent changes page. From the drop-down menu Days to show in recent changes you can select for how many days back should page edits be listed on the Recent changes page. From the option Number of edits to show by default you can select the number of page edits to be shown (in case there are that many edits made during the specified period for the days). Note that both options set the default values that are used. Each time that you visit the Recent changes page you can select a value different than the default one from the corresponding filtering options at the top of the page.

The section Advanced options contains several checkboxes. When the option Group changes by page in recent changes and watchlist is enabled and a page has been edited more than once during a day, then the page is listed as a single entry on the Recent changes page (and the watchlist), and a list of all the edits performed to that page during the specific day can be expanded by clicking on the arrow that's available in front of the entry in the list. Otherwise, when the option is disabled all edits are listed as separate entries. With the other checkboxes in the section you can set the default behavior of the respective filtering options on the Recent changes page. You can select whether minor edits should be shown or hidden by default, and whether edits that have been patrolled should be shown or hidden (this options is available only to users who have the permission to patrol edits).

For more information on the Recent changes page and on patrolling edits check out the tutorial on how to track changes and patrol edits in MediaWiki, or the corresponding shorter article version.


The Watchlist tab opens a page with options related to your watchlist.

At the top are some buttons for editing the watchlist. The same buttons are available on the actual watchlist.

The section Display options contains some drop-down menus. The watchlist displays the page edits grouped according to the day they were made, and with the drop-down menu Days to show in watchlist you can set how many days back (with the edits made during those days) should be shown on the watchlist; this will be the default value that will be automatically used every time you visit the site. On the actual watchlist page you can select a different value from the filtering options at the top of the page. With the option Maximum number of changes to show in expanded watchlist you can select how many entries at the most can be displayed on the list (provided there are more than that made during the specified time period).

The Advanced options section consists of some checkboxes. With the option Expand watchlist to show all changes, not just the most recent you can choose whether if a page has been edited more than once during a day, all edits should be listed on the watchlist or just the most recent edit. There are a bunch of options for setting the default value for the filtering options that are available at the top of the watchlist page (e.g. hide/show minor edits, edits by anonymous users, etc.). There are also some checkboxes for choosing the default value for the option for adding a page to the watchlist on the various page forms (e.g. for editing, creating, moving pages, etc.).

For more details on the watchlist read the tutorial on how to manage a watchlist in MediaWiki, or the respective shorter article version.

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