Wikipedia on Phone.

Have you ever wished you could download Wikipedia in its entirety, and have a copy of it for yourself? There are a handful of ways to do just that — all you need is a third-party program and about 150 gigabytes of storage.

You’ll Need Some Disk Space

If you want to download and install your own local version of Wikipedia, you should know that you will need some extra disk space: A lot of extra disk space, especially if you want to have images as well. You will need about 50 gigabytes for a text-only copy, and another 100 gigabytes or so if you want all of the images. Luckily storage is cheaper than it ever has been — it is pretty easy to buy storage for less than 20 dollars a terabyte now.

It is possible to download Wikipedia manually, without using any third-party tools, but the process is quite involved. If you’re not extremely tech-savvy, you should probably try one of the third-party options.

Download Wikipedia Using Kiwix

Kiwix is an open-source application that allows you to download all of Wikipedia, including images, with just a few clicks. It can also download almost any wiki-based website, and supports a tool to grab other websites you might want to save offline. Kiwix runs on Windows, MacOS, most any Linux distribution, Android, and iOS.

Note: Remember, Wikipedia is huge. Downloading the entire thing will take a while, and you’ll need at least 150 gigabytes of storage free.

Kiwix on Windows 11

The installation process varies between operating systems — luckily most of them are one-click. This example will be for the full version of Kiwix on Windows 11.

To start, download Kiwix from the Kiwix website. The application comes in a ZIP file. Once it is done downloading, right-click the file and click “Extract All.”

There will be a folder with the same name as the ZIP file; open it and any subfolders until you see a large number of files. Scroll through the list until you find a file named “kiwix-desktop,” and double-click it.

The user interface is pretty straightforward. When the program launches, it’ll display anything you already have downloaded. Click “All Files” in the top left corner to display a complete list of available content. You could also click “Browse by Language,” if you’d like to find Wikis written in a particular language.

There are a fair amount of Wikis (including Wikipedia) available already through Kiwix. You can either scroll through the list until you find what you want, or use the search function. All of Wikipedia is available as two files. One contains the text, the other contains the pictures.

The relevant Wikipedia archives available on Kiwix.

Kiwix displays the size of the archive, the date it was last updated, and the content type. Note the size of the files involved — they’re pretty large. If you want to change your download directory, click on the three dots in the top right corner and click “Settings,” or hit the F12 key.

The settings menu is pretty straightforward — click “Browse” to change where the files will be stored on your device, then close the Settings tab by clicking the “X.”

Once you’re back to the list of available files, download the archives by clicking “Download” on the right-hand side.

There will be a progress indicator that appears. You’ll have to wait a bit — even with a gigabit internet connection, you’re still looking at a minimum of about 20 minutes for the entire thing to download. It’ll probably be longer.

The Kiwix download progress indicator.

After the download is finished, click on “Local Files” on the left side of the window just below “All Files;” you’ll see the stuff you just downloaded. Click “Open” on the right-hand side to view them.

Note: This example used the “Top 100 Wikipedia Articles” archive instead of the complete Wikipedia archive to save on space and time. The process will be the same if you download all of Wikipedia.

That’s it — you now have Wikipedia downloaded to your device!

Kiwix on Other Operating Systems

Kiwix supports most of the operating systems out there. The user interface varies a bit between versions, but fortunately, the user interface is straightforward on all of them: Search for Wikipedia, find the archives for the text and pictures, and then download them.

Warning: The files are large. They could very easily clog up all of the storage on an average cellphone.

Here are some links to the installers for other operating systems:

If you’ve never used a Flatpak before, you can read more about how to use one with your specific distribution on the Flatpak page.

If you’re running macOS and you aren’t familiar with DMG files, we have an article about how to use them.

Download Wikipedia Using XOWA

XOWA should work on almost any system you have — Windows, macOS, Linux, and even Android.  There is no iPhone or iPad client. The one prerequisite for using XOWA is that you have to install and run Java.

To begin, go to XOWA’s download page and grab the binary that suits your Java installation. If you’re not sure which version you’re using, it is pretty easy to check. If you have the 32-bit version of Java installed on your 64-bit Windows PC, and you try to run the 64-bit XOWA, you’ll receive an error message because the application doesn’t match the Java version.

The surest way around this then is to make sure your Java installation matches your OS version and then download the appropriate XOWA version. If you use macOS, then it doesn’t matter.

We’re going to show you how to perform this procedure on a Windows machine. Extraction of the binary files will be different on each operating system, but once XOWA is up and running, it will be the same.

Double-click on the XOWA ZIP file and extract the files somewhere on your hard drive. Then, double-click “xowa.exe” to get started.

XOWA zip contents, and the XOWA executable.

If your OS employs any kind of executable protection, such as Windows does with SmartScreen, you won’t be able to run XOWA until you grant it permission to do so. On Windows, you need to click “More Info” on the following message.

Windows blocking XOWA from running.

Next, click “Run anyway”.

When XOWA is installed and running, it will open in its own special offline wiki application, resembling any browser you might normally use.

The XOWA main page.

XOWA features a simple, streamlined download page, which takes the guesswork out of downloading wikis. Click the “Tools” menu and then click “Download Central.”

The Download Central page is a cinch to manipulate. Let’s discuss the basics and you’ll be downloading your own wikis in no time.

A list of the downloadable Wikis.

Various Wikis can be downloaded from the Download Central page, including Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and Wikiquote, among others. In addition to the English versions of these wikis, other languages are available as well.

Some Wikipedia archives that are available.

If you just want to download the simple version of Wikipedia, which consists of a little under 122,000 articles, then it will occupy just over 420 MB of drive space. If you add in images, that’s another 2 GB. The full English version of Wikipedia will set you back a whopping 45 GB while adding images will account for another 99 GB, so that’s almost 150 GB of drive space when all is downloaded and installed.

To queue a wiki, click the “+” sign, then click the play symbol to start the download.

Explanation of the interface buttons and how to use them.

Once you queue something up, you have additional options. You can select a custom download location, remove the item from the queue, pause the queue, and restart any failed tasks.

More button explanations, including options available when your download is in progress or your task experienced an error.

Once you’ve downloaded your wikis, they can be accessed in the upper-left corner of the browser window.

Downloaded Wikis on the left-hand side.

RELATED: 5+ Ways to Install Android Apps on Your Phone or Tablet

In addition to versions for various computing platforms, you can also install Wikipedia on your Android smartphone or tablet, though you will need to sideload the XOWA app to do this.

Once you’ve done that, however, the Android version of XOWA works just like the desktop version.

The mobile version of XowA.

Obviously, you may not have 150 GB of space on your tablet or phone, but you’ll probably be able to download and install the simple version of Wikipedia.

Because XOWA requires Java, which has some issues from time to time, it has a nearly universal user experience. In other words, what you see on Windows or Mac will be the same on Linux or Android.

If you live somewhere with good internet infrastructure, it might seem strange to download Wikipedia. It is easy to take the information available on the internet for granted, but billions of people worldwide don’t have reliable access. Having a copy of Wikipedia that can be hosted on a low-power device and easily transported almost anywhere is invaluable. Alternatively, it might just be fun to be able to say “I downloaded all of Wikipedia to my smartphone.”

Profile Photo for Nick Lewis Nick Lewis
Nick Lewis is a staff writer for How-To Geek. He has been using computers for 20 years --- tinkering with everything from the UI to the Windows registry to device firmware. Before How-To Geek, he used Python and C++ as a freelance programmer. In college, Nick made extensive use of Fortran while pursuing a physics degree.
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Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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