Wikipedia is one of the foremost sources of information online and there is no limit to how the site can be used for both research and for contributing information. Regardless of what your browser of choice is, you’re bound to find a plugin that will enhance your Wikipedia experience, making it easier to search through the website’s endless wealth of information.
Firefox users can benefit from a Wikipedia toolbar that gives you complete control over your Wikipedia editing and searching needs. Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer users can all benefit from plugins that allow you to perform Wikipedia searches from any website you happen to be browsing. Take a look at the following list for the best in Wikipedia plugins for Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE.
The first obvious choice for a Wikipedia plugin is the Wikipedia Toolbar. The toolbar gives you easy access to performing searches directly on Wikipedia, and if you have an account, gives you access to every aspect of your interaction with the website itself.
From the toolbar, you can look up random entries, add and remove specific entries to your watch list, access that list, and edit pages on Wikipedia. You also have quick access to the What Links Here page, and can navigate to your own user page.
If you want an easy way to look up words directly from the website you are browsing, QuickWiki is the perfect plugin to enhance your browsing experience. Highlighting any given word and right-clicking will bring up a menu which allows you to look it up in Wikipedia or Wiktionary. There are two ways the search results can be displayed, either in a window overlaying your current page, or you can open the results in a new tab.
Alternatively, you can configure QuickWiki to work with specific shortcuts to pull up your results at the click of a button.
If you want to perform a quick search, the shortcut, Shift + Space will bring up a small search bar overlaying your current window.
QuickWiki’s additional features include support for English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese and the ability to adjust the appearance of the overlaying window.
Googlepedia integrates Wikipedia search directly into Google dividing your search page into two columns. The first column contains the original google results, while in the second, the relevant Wikipedia article is displayed. Googlepedia does have its shortcomings. If you do a search directly from within Google, sometimes Googlepedia’s search results will not be displayed. On the other hand, if you do the search from Firefox’s inbuilt search bar at the top of the page – the results are always displayed. Googlepedia is currently being ported to other browsers.
Chrome users will appreciate the Wikiepdia Companion which gives them easy access to search and browse articles on Wikipedia from the extensions menu.
All results are displayed in a small window overlaying the browser.
Wikipedia Companion doesn’t come with many bells and whistles. It simply serves as a mini browser that is handy for people who tend to look up a lot of information on Wikipedia. If you would prefer to have easy access to a search bar that opens up search results in a new tab, then Wikipedia Search will be sufficient for your purposes.
Safari users can install Wiki-It, which can be best described as a simplified version of QuickWiki. Installing the extension allows you to right click any given word as you are browsing, and it will add an option to the menu to look up that word on Wikipedia. Search results are opened in a new tab on the Wikipedia website.
You can also choose to open the search results in a new window, in the current tab, or in a new tab in the background.
In order to install Wiki-It, make sure you’ve updated to Safari 5, and take a look at our article on how to find, install, and enable Safari extensions.
Internet Explorer users can also add a quick link to look up words in Wikipedia using the right click menu when highlighting a word. Using Define with Wikipedia allows you to do just that, with search results opened in a new tab on the Wikipedia website.
Wikipedia Visual Search adds Wikipedia to the search engines included in IE’s inbuilt search bar. If you enter a search term and press Enter, it will take you directly to the related Wikipedia page. On the other hand, if you enter the search term and do not press Enter, it will display a list of suggested pages from Wikipedia, with thumbnails where applicable.
What are your favourite Wikipedia browser addons? Let us know in the comments.