How to change MediaWiki skins

The default appearance of MediaWiki can be changed to better represent your wiki site. The themes in mediawiki are called skins. Skinning the MediaWiki site is necessary in order to customize the site to your personal preferences. This article will explain how to change the skin and to upload a free skin in MediaWiki.

Default MediaWiki skins

MediaWiki has 9 skins built into teh default installation available for use. The included MediaWiki skins are:

  • Chick
  • Classic
  • Cologne Blue
  • Modern
  • MonoBook
  • MySkin
  • Nostalgia
  • Simple
  • Vector (the default)

In the following section, we will switch the default vector them to the nostalgia and the modern theme.

How do I change the MediaWiki Default skin?

  1. Log into cPanel and Navigate to your File manager select the MediaWiki install folder and click Go.
  2. Navigate to the following file in your MediaWiki installation directory.


    Open the file in the code editor.

  3. MediaWiki Vector skin code

    Find the following line in your LocalSettings.php file.

    $wgDefaultSkin = “vector”;

  4. MediaWIki Modern skin code

    To change the skin to “the modern skin“, change the code to the following and save the changes.

    $wgDefaultSkin = “modern”;

    MediaWiki Modern Skin preview

    Now the MediaWiki site will look like the snapshot to the right.

  5. MediaWiki Nostalgia code

    Now try the nostalgia skin. Type the following in the code and save the page.

    $wgDefaultSkin = “nostalgia”;

    MediaWiki Nostalgia skin preview

    Now you should see the familiar yellow base skin.

Uploading and Installing a free skin

MediaWiki skins can be downloaded for free as well. Instead of using the basic skins, you can download free templates from various free sites. This tutorial will use the free template from Go media wiki.

This free theme can be downloaded here. The downloaded file will be called:

 Steps to upload a free theme in MediaWiki

  1. Log into cPanel and go to the file manager and select your mediawiki folder location and click Go.
  2. Navigate to public_html/mediawiki/skins
  3. Upload the file
  4. GMW Free Theme file manager view

    Extractthe files and move the following files and folders to the skins folder location so it looks like the snapshot to the right.


  5. MediaWiki gmwfreeblue theme code

    To change thye current theme to the blue theme, edit the LocalSettings.php file and change the $wgDefaultSkin to the following.

    $wgDefaultSkin = “gmwfreeblue”;

    MediaWiki gmwfreeblue theme preview

    Now the Template will look like the snapshot to the right.

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