MediaWiki Themes

Updated on October 2, 2022

MediaWiki supports multiple themes. MediaWiki themes are used to change the look and feel of the wiki.

MediaWiki themes are most often called MediaWiki skins. Sometimes they are also referred to as MediaWiki styles or MediaWiki layouts. For clarity, we refer to them as MediaWiki themes in this article.

Best MediaWiki Themes in 2022

In the world of MediaWiki themes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the needs of your wiki, you may find that one theme works better than another. However, there are a few themes that stand out as being particularly well-suited for the most common use cases.

Responsive &
Mobile Friendly
Highlights Bundled with MediaWiki Available in ProWiki
Timeless Default ProWiki theme
Great out of the box
Chameleon Highly customizable
Uses Twitter Bootstrap
Medik Uses Twitter Bootstrap
Customizable via PHP
Vector Default MediaWiki theme
The Wikipedia theme

For a full comparison, see Top 10 MediaWiki Themes.

Changing your MediaWiki Theme

To change the theme just for yourself, go to your user preferences.

You can also change the default theme for all users. And you can prevent people from choosing another theme, which is often desired when you branded your wiki, or made other important style changes.

On basic MediaWiki

You will need to edit LocalSettings.php. This requires access to the server and some technical know-how.

To change the theme to Timeless, add a line with wfLoadSkin and update the line with $wgDefaultSkin. The result should look like this:

wfLoadSkin( 'Timeless' );
$wgDefaultSkin = 'timeless';

Note the different capitalization. The wfLoadSkin line takes the same capitalization as the theme directory inside of the skins/ directory. In other words, you pass Timeless to wfLoadSkin because it is installed in the skins/Timeless/ directory. The value in the $wgDefaultSkin line is typically entirely lowercase.

By default, all users can choose any of the installed themes via their user preferences. To prevent this, disable theme choice with

$wgHiddenPrefs[] = 'skin';

On ProWiki

Any administrator can change the wiki theme via the ProWiki admin panel.

Theme selection is done on the Appearance tab.

MediaWiki theme selection via the ProWiki admin panel

By default users can only use the theme selected via the admin panel, ensuring a consistent user experience.

Installing new MediaWiki Themes

To add new themes to your wiki, you need access to the wiki server and some technical know-how.

Step 1: Download MediaWiki Theme

Start by downloading the theme files. They need to be placed in the skins/ directory of your wiki. The download method and location depends on the theme. Check the documentation of the theme on MediaWiki.org. Many themes can be downloaded via git as follows:

        git clone https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/mediawiki/skins/[name of theme]

Step 2: Enable MediaWiki Theme

Once you verified that the new theme has been placed in skins/, it is time to enable the theme. See Changing your MediaWiki Theme for detailed instructions.