Wikipedia:Tools/Optimum tool set

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The final frontier: speed

There are many tools available for working on Wikipedia faster and easier. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. Only the most useful and reliable tools are listed here – whether they are programs, extensions, commands, or methods.

The only criteria are whether they get the job done in the easiest and fastest way available. Tools are listed primarily by function, rather than by form or structure. The only exception to this is the multiple-purpose section.

Super fast upgrade[edit]

If you use Firefox, and you would like to upgrade your Wikipedia user account to use the same wiki-enhancements used by The Transhumanist, copy the contents of User:Optimum tool set/monobook.js into your monobook page. After saving the page, hold down Shift while clicking on Firefox's Reload icon, or press Ctrl-Shift-R – this last step clears your cache which is necessary to activate the scripts on your computer.

Doing so will add the following programs or changes to your account:

Watchlist sorter[edit]

This script sorts your watchlist by namespace, and adds spaces within each entry to make the watchlist easier to read.


The wikEd user script replaces Firefox's text edit window, and adds lots of editing features. Its search and replace features are powerful, including allowing you to select text and search/replace only within the text you've highlighed. It also has local show changes and preview features (i.e., they bypass the server and save time). There are some annoying Firefox bugs, but the script places a convenient activation/deactivation button in the top-right corner of your userpage, so you can switch back and forth between using it and the default edit window. (The default edit window is still more useful for cutting and pasting, because Firefox bugs make cutting and pasting in wikEd difficult.)

Known bugs and workarounds:

  • Inappropriate up and down arrow jumps – after pasting marked text, Firefox sometimes treats the next press of the up or down arrow key as ctrl-home and cltr-end, which jump to the beginning or end of the document, respectively. This can be really annoying. The workaround is to click the mouse where you want the cursor to be next. You could also update syntax highlighting by pushing the highlighting button.
  • Cutting and pasting page titles – sometimes you need to cut and paste a title of an article to make a link. Well, wikEd retains the fontsize of the items pasted (titles are HUGE). All you have to do to revert them down to normal text size is backspace or delete the leading spaces right before it (which is also right after the point you wanted to insert it). Another option is to push the [T]extify button right after pasting the heading text. At least this bug doesn't make the cursor jump like the previous bug.

Navigation popups[edit]

This turns your mouse pointer into a crystal ball: whenever you hover the mouse over an internal link, a box will popup giving you a peek into that page (showing the topmost part of that page). And this function is recursive, in that you can do it again to a link inside the box, and inside the next box that pops from inside that box, and so on. There is also a powerful menu provided of things you can do to the page in the popup.

Lupin's live feeds[edit]

Watchdog tools for monitoring changes to Wikipedia in real-time. This script adds the following 4 items to your toolbox menu in the sidebar on the left side of your screen:

When you visit these pages, a live, scrolling feed will begin, allowing you to watch changes to articles as they happen. On the first two above, only edits matching common vandalisms are listed (you can see this list at User:Lupin/badwords). On "All recent changes" nearly every edit is listed. And on "Monitor my watchlist, all changes are displayed. If you ever wondered how some users respond almost instantly to changes made to a page, well now you know.
To check the contents of the entry, click on "show details". To hide that entry, click "hide details".

General set-up[edit]

This tool set was optimized for a computer with the following system elements:

Running Windows XP, relying primarily on Firefox to browse the Web (and Wikipedia). Other browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera) being used for auxiliary and support purposes (all explained below).
Internet Explorer (IE) is essential for using AutoWikiBrowser, a powerful editor designed for performing repetitive tasks on Wikipedia (and as a page queuer/autoloader).
Otherwise, IE, Opera, and Safari are used primarily for checking graphical layouts, to make sure there are no glitches that make the pages look funny for people using those browsers. If you work on the graphical elements of pages (setting borders, colors, fonts, margins, padding, columns, tables, etc.), you should check to see what your results look like on each of these browsers.
See also: Comparison of web browsers
Using two browsers at the same time[edit]

Yes, you can use two different browsers on your Wikipedia account at the same time. This is a useful strategy when you have different functionality on each browser. Some scripts, extensions, and programs work on IE and not Firefox, for instance (and vice versa). So, using 2 browsers is useful for task switching, and also for multi-tasking. For example, many scripts only work if you use Firefox, but AutoWikiBrowser (AWB) only works with IE. Having them both loaded and logged on lets you switch back and forth. As for multi-tasking, AWB does many things automatically, such as when you feed it a list of pages upon which to perform search/replace operations. It won't save a page after searching/replacing (you are required to check the page and then personally save or discard the draft), but it will skip those pages upon which it finds no matches and then bleep you to notify you that it needs you to check and save a page before it can move on. (Note: AWB has a completely automatic mode, which turns it into a full-fledged bot, but you've got to get it approved as a bot to have that feature activated – but bots need to be watched closely, so you probably shouldn't be using them to multi-task until you've had a great deal of experience with them).

You can also be logged on to two different accounts at the same time. This requires two different browsers. When you do a lot of edits with AWB, for instance, Wikipedia's bot guidelines recommend that you create a separate account for this purpose. Otherwise your repetitive edits will drown out your regular edits in your contributions list and make it harder for other editors to review your activity. (Scrolling down page after page to bypass repetitive edits is tedious).

Multipurpose tools[edit]

Hotkeys and shortcuts[edit]

Keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys) and Wikipedia shortcuts (pagename aliases) cut down the number of keystrokes and mouse movements you need to make to get things done on your computer. They can really speed up your activities on Wikipedia.

Macro programs[edit]

Macro programs let you create your own customized keyboard shortcuts. They can be as sophisticated as scripts or computer programs, with their own conditional programming, and can be nested (called by each other) for even greater flexibility and power. Any sequence of keystrokes and/or mouse operations can be stored in a macro, and macros can be made to autorepeat as many times as you want them to. Two especially useful macro programs are:


Main article: Wikipedia:Bots


Scripting languages[edit]

JavaScript (a scripting language, not to be confused with the Java programming language).



Communications nav bar:

HelpDeskAdmin attentionANBotCBBClassIndexNewsroomRequestsRfCRfFThird

RefDesk (HumSciMathCompLangMisc)VPPolPropTechMisc)

WikiProject task boxes[edit]

(e.g., see Template:PhilosophyTasksBox)
  • Place on userpage to keep up with project tasks
  • These can also be used for keeping project members informed (when you update the box, it is automatically updated on every page upon which it is displayed).
  • Article to-do lists

Newsletters (subscriptions)[edit]


  • Displayed by template – {{Signpost-subscription|right}} (shown at right)
  • Posted by bot

Wikipedia Weekly:

  • {{WikipediaWeekly-subscription-compact|right}} (shown at right)

Notice boards[edit]


Notifying users[edit]

  • Use Linky to open a list of user links into tabs (or just middle click on each user link on a page), then in each tab use a macro (Autohotkey, Macro Express) to post the notice, then Ctrl-F4 to remove the tab and instantly display the next one.
  • Feed a list of userpage links into AutoWikiBrowser, and then AWB's append feature to add the notice to each userpage in the list.


See custom signatures below.

Archiving talk pages[edit]


Editorial nav bar:

ArticlesCBBDirCleanFixFCDelHelpDeskInfoboxesMagic wdsMoSNav temps

PeerRvwPicsReqPolicies & GuidelinesRefDeskRfCSPostToolsVPWikiProjects


  • wikEd – replaces your edit window (Firefox only) and adds lots of functionality, like search/replace. Has a multi-undo feature too.
  • Wikipedia:AutoWikiBrowser – Awesome botlike editor for processing batches of pages, which it autoloads from a list. Only runs in Internet Explorer, therefore run in a separate Window. And yes, you can use 2 separate windows at the same time on your Wikipedia account. AWB will beep when it needs you.
  • See Tabs and tabbing (aka rapid viewing) below on how to cycle through a set of pages fast. Works better than AutoWikiBrowser when the task is viewing-intensive (such as when you have to inspect or look at the pages first). AutoWikiBrowser goes straight into edit mode, so you can't see a damned thing.

Editing links[edit]

  • Use the pipe ("|") to display different text than the actual link. [[This is an example|example]], shows up as "example" (without the quotes).
  • Use the pipe ("|") by itself to get rid of namespace prefixes and parens. [[Wikipedia:Tools|]] is autocompleted by MediaWiki (the software the Wikipedia runs on) and shows up as Tools.
  • Wikipedia:Interwikimedia link – how to link to Wikipedia's sisters


Cascading style sheet elements (class=, id= , etc. )[edit]

The main template for citing references is {{Citation}}.

A useful tool for searching for references is Google Scholar. Even more useful is Google Scholar enhanced with the Wikipedia {{citation}} assistant. What this does is adds a "Wikify" button to the results generated by Google Scholar. When you click on the "Wikify" button, the results are automatically formatted as {{Citation}} wikicode which you can then copy and paste into a Wikipedia article! (Thanks to Verisimilus for this tip).

For more information on how to implement citations in articles, see Wikipedia:Citing sources.


  • wikEd – in your edit window on the current page. You can replace one match at a time, all the matches on the page all at once, or all the matches within just the selected text.
  • AutoWikiBrowser – on many pages.


Main article: Wikipedia:Typo#Checking spelling
  • Firefox 2 and up have myspell built-in and check for spelling errors as soon as you click "edit this page" and continue to spellcheck as you type. Probable spelling errors are immediately underlined in red.
  • Opera 10 has introduced built-in spell checking, but previous versions had integrated spell-check for all GNU Aspell users (which is automatically enabled if you have Aspell installed – Aspell also comes packaged with some programs like Pidgin and is pre-installed on some Linux distributions)
Watching for spelling errors (and swearwords) as they occur[edit]

There is a live spellchecker in the program Anti-vandal tool that spellchecks Recent changes. To start viewing the live feed of spelling errors that are being made on Wikipedia right now, go to User:Lupin/Filter recent changes.

Where to find article components[edit]


Contents nav bar:

Help pages nav bar:

Wikipedia community nav bar:

Administrative nav bar:

Admin (DirHowRead)ABAIVAN (I3RR)BLBlock (IPsLogOPRFU)Del ((A C I M R T) fDCSDDRVListLogProcPRD)


Navigation bars[edit]

Wikipedia's main navigation bars (without border and background formatting) follow. To use them, copy and paste in the desired code (between and including the curly brackets) exactly as it appears below:

See also: Userpage design: Navigation bars

Navigation boxes[edit]

For a more complete set of navigation boxes, see Wikipedia:User Page Design Center/Navigation aids#News and navigation boxes

In addition to the navboxes strewn about this page, here are a few more:


See Wikipedia:Tools/Navigation popups.
  • Popups watchlist trick – open "my watchlist" in another tab or window, and then view the diffs without even having to click, by hovering the mouse over them. Speeds up watchlist watching a lot!

Bookmarking and using bookmarks[edit]

Definition: Bookmarks are saved links.
  • Bookmarks can be accessed:
    • From the bookmark folder(s) on your computer
    • From the toolbar in your browser
    • As hot keys (set up using a macro program)
    • As smart keywords
    • As keymarks
  • Bookmark files are in HTML format, and can be viewed directly in a browser window.
  • In Wikipedia, links and lists of links can serve as bookmarks. The links on this page, for instance. Some bookmark-like applications of lists of links on your user page could be a:
    • reading list of articles
    • task list of pages to work on
    • list of discussion page section links to follow-up on
    • list of your best contributions
    • list of friends' user pages
    • etc.


Searching Wikipedia from within Wikipedia[edit]

Searching Wikipedia from the Internet[edit]

The main Internet search engines are far more powerful than Wikipedia's search feature. They have special commands and settings which can be used to search Wikipedia specifically. Note that it takes a few days for new material to be included in search engine databanks, so searching for a page you just created won't return the desired result. (But the same thing applies to Wikipedia's search feature, only the "go" button will find a new article, and only if you type in the precise page name).

Site-specific searches of Wikipedia[edit]

To do a site-specific search of Wikipedia from Google, do any one of the following:


Advanced searching[edit]



  • Yahoo advanced search operators
Boolean searches[edit]
Proximity searches[edit]

Proximity analysis is built-in to most search algorithms and affects results ranking

Proximity can be specified explicitly on Google and Yahoo:

  • On Google, you can do a precise proximity search using a trick with Google's wildcard character (the asterisk)
    • Use the asterisk in a quoted term (like this: "word1 * word2")
  • Yahoo
    • The "a" is used on Yahoo
Wildcard searches[edit]
(a search "wildcard" is a symbol used for specifying "any" in a search)

Searching the Internet from Wikipedia[edit]

  • More

Searching the Internet in support of Wikipedia[edit]

Tabs and tabbing[edit]

Firefox's tab feature (especially when combined with the use of the Linky extension and macros) is one of the most powerful tools you can use to work on Wikipedia. It beats AWB in many operations (though AWB beats it in many others).

Firefox (tab controls)[edit]
  • Rapid page viewing:
    • Middle-click (or use Linky, see below) to load 40 or more pages into tabs (Linky opens up to 99)
      • To skim through lots of random articles, middle-click on "Random article" 40+ times
    • Read or work on one
    • When done, press Ctrl-F4 or Ctrl-w to close tab and instantly go to the next one
    • Great for skimming sets of articles, where you are checking for a missing element, or looking for a particular kind of page or element. Just keep pressing Ctrl-F4 (or Ctrl-w) to instantly get rid of the current tab and go onto the next one, cycling through them fast until you find one you are looking for. Blam, blam, blam, blam, blam!
  • Middle-click on link – create new tab with linked page as its contents
  • Ctrl-T – Create new (employ) tab
  • Ctrl-Tab – Switch to next tab
  • Shift-Ctrl-Tab – Switch to previous tab
  • (Find this – Clone a tab (Firefox 2.0))
  • Ctrl-Shift-T – un-close a tab (this will even remember contents entered in text boxes like Wikipedia's text editor)
    • Or go to the History menu and choose Recently Closed Tabs
Attention: Opera users[edit]

Opera has Linky-like functionality built-in. It is not immediately evident in a default install – you have to right-click on a toolbar and go to Customise->Panels->Links to enable it.

All notes on tabs above also apply to Opera. Additionally, for viewing multiple pages simultaneously (for comparison) Opera can tile tabs automatically within the browser window. Tabs can also be dragged into our out of multiple windows to allow you to easily rearrange Wikipedia pages or reference articles you are viewing.

Translation-integrated viewing[edit]

Page layout and graphical design[edit]


Sectioning / Tables[edit]

  • Headers/subheaders use double/triple "==H=="/"===Sub===" (but single "=" allows for rare superheaders).
  • Use {{-}} to force separation section break of sections.
  • Help:Table – for wikitable/cell syntax, plus 40 examples.


View checking[edit]

Pages with graphical elements must be checked to see if they look right on all the major browsers. If you do a lot of page layout, in addition to Firefox you should also have the latest version of:

Edit counters and statistical tools for Wikipedia[edit]

User account configuration[edit]

Custom signatures[edit]

Main articles: Wikipedia:Signatures and Signature formatting tutorial

To create a custom signature, click on my preferences (at the top of the page unless you've changed Wikipedia's skin), click the box that says Raw signature, and then put the wikicode for your signature in the signature box provided (and remember to click save!). Once it's set up, whenever you place 4 tildes in a message, it is automatically replaced with their custom signature.

You can see how any signature ("sig") is created by clicking on "edit this page" at the top of the screen and looking at the wikicode for a particular signature.

Unfortunately the sig box is buggy, and not all signatures work in it. The version of my sig which requires the least amount of wikicode doesn't work in the sig box. So I have my signature programmed as a macro, and to insert it wherever the text cursor is I simply press a certain function key on my keyboard. Voila! I use Macro Express, but a popular free open source macro program that probably works just as well is AutoHotkey.

Watchdogging and vandalism fighting[edit]

an in-depth discussion and Q&A session on vandalism hunting can be found at User:The Rambling Man/The Rambling Man, on vandalism


VandalProof is useful for patrolling these pages:

Lupin's live feeds[edit]

User:Lupin/Anti-vandal tool – after you have installed this tool in your monobook.js page, you can use it to patrol the following pages:

Your watchlist[edit]

  • Wikipedia:Watchlist
  • Go to User:Lupin/Monitor my watchlist to watch changes to the pages in your watchlist as they occur (well, there is a slight delay).
  • Popups watchlist trick – using Navigation popups, open "my watchlist" in another tab or window, and then view the diffs without even having to click, by hovering the mouse over them. Speeds up watchlist watching a lot!

How to use pages as watchlists[edit]

Related changes watchlists[edit]

You can have more than one watchlist. Pages can be used as watchlists, using the related changes command in the toolbox menu of the sidebar. It works just like recent changes, but only upon the links on the page of Wikipedia currently being displayed.

"My watchlist" can be cumbersome to manage, as items have to be entered one-by-one. In contrast, a page can be filled with links via cut and paste in seconds.

You can use related changes on existing pages without any set up at all, but since many pages have nav bars, navigation templates, and message templates on them with links to pages you may not want to monitor, making a new page with those stripped out can be very useful.

Red-link watchlists[edit]

A red-link watchlist is a list of links to pages that don't exist yet. This makes the links display in red. Such a list is useful for monitoring for the creation of certain kinds of pages, like Articles for deletion discussions (which follow the standard form Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Page name example – when a link on the list turns blue, that's your alert that an article has been nominated for deletion!

Tracking RfA[edit]

A simple way to watch WP:RfA and check it for new nominees is include on your talk page the same tool Wikipedia's bureaucrats use:

RfA tracker:
Requests for adminship and bureaucratshipupdate
No current discussions. Recent RfAs, recent RfBs: (successful, unsuccessful)


  • Twinkle, a popular JavaScript Wikipedia gadget that gives autoconfirmed registered users many extra options to assist them in common Wikipedia maintenance tasks and to help them deal with acts of vandalism or unconstructive edits.
  • Huggle, a diff browser intended for dealing with vandalism and other unconstructive edits on Wikimedia projects, written in C++ using the Qt framework.
  • WikiLoop Battlefield, an open-source, crowd-sourced counter vandalism tool. Built on web technology, WikiLoop Battlefield allows a quick launch from either desktop or mobile phone without needing to install resident software.

Research tools and resources[edit]

Main article: Wikipedia:Research resources

See also[edit]

and what good are tools without rules...