Wikipedia started rolling out a new design on its English site in January 2023, but as visual changes tend to go, not everyone is a fan. Thankfully, you can get the old design back.
The updated design, called “Vector,” is Wikipedia’s first design update in over a decade. It retains the same basic layout but with the table of contents fixed to the side as you scroll, improved search, and a maximum line width for larger monitors. However, some actions now require more clicks than with the old “Vector legacy” design, which was first introduced in 2010.
How to Go Back to Wikipedia’s Old Look
Wikipedia allows you to switch between several themes, but only if you are logged in with an account. Yes, you have to create a free Wikipedia account to permanently change the theme. We know, making an account is a hassle, but it also gives you the ability to sync your saved articles across devices, edit Wikipedia without recording your IP address, and perform other actions.
Once you have an account, head over to your Preferences page. You can do that by clicking the profile icon at the top-right of Wikipedia and selecting “Preferences,” or by navigating to wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Preferences.
On the Preferences page, click the “Appearance” tab to see all available themes. Here, you can choose “Vector legacy (2010)” to revert back to the older design — just click the checkbox, then click the Save button at the bottom of the page. After that, the entire site will stay on the old layout, as long as you are logged in. The setting will also synchronize across every browser and device with that account.
You can also choose from a few other themes here. Besides the latest Vector theme, there’s also Minerva Neue, which is the default layout for mobile browsers. It doesn’t have all the features of the desktop themes, but you can expand or collapse sections, and the hidden sidebar can create a less-distracting reading experience.
MonoBook is an even older desktop theme, serving as the default layout on Wikipedia from 2004 until 2010. Sadly, the original Wikipedia layout that dates back to 2001 is only accessible at nostalgia.wikipedia.org — you can’t switch to that design on the regular site.
The older Wikipedia themes are still functional, but they aren’t as well-optimized for modern browsers and accessibility requirements. For example, if you need to use a screen reader, you’re almost certainly best off with the latest Vector theme.
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