iPhone and iPad

How to Install Wikipedia on Your iPod

Mark O'Neill 29-12-2007

ipod.jpg I have an old 20GB iPod and even though I have a lot of music on there, I am only taking up half of the space available. So there’s another 10GB kicking around doing nothing and so I decided to start putting some useful iPod tools 50 Free Tools to Make Your iPod Better and ... Read More on there for when I’m on the move. Some of that space was allocated for installing one of my favourite websites – Wikipedia.


Yes that’s right. Thanks to iPodLinux, you can now have the entire Wikipedia encylopedia on your iPod. Clocking in at only 1.7 GB of space, it is a very handy tool if you have the sudden uncontrollable urge while out at the shops to discover the capital of Mongolia or the mating habits of eels. The Wikipedia file is updated approximately once every 6 months so you won’t have the most up-to-date version but hey it’s free and Mongolia isn’t going to change their capital anytime soon.

[Update: Please note, this doesn’t seem to work on all iPod models. For more details check comments section.]

It’s very easy to set this up but the actual Wikipedia file is so huge that it takes a long time to download. I have been waiting for 35 minutes and the download is only at 40%. So be prepared to wait a while for the file to be finished.

1. First connect your iPod to your computer and fire up iTunes. Then make sure the box “enabling disk use” is ticked. This is extremely important otherwise you won’t be able to move any files on there. Then close down iTunes.

2. Download the program installation wizard and install. Make sure your iPod is still plugged into your computer as the program installation wizard will automatically detect your iPod presence and install everything directly there.

3. One important thing to remember during installation is that you will be asked if you want to make the Wikipedia your “default system” on your iPod. This means that when you switch on your iPod each time, do you want to see your music menu or the Wikipedia menu? I recommend you say no to making Wikipedia the default view.

4. When the installation is complete, eject your iPod from your computer.

5. Now is the time to see if the installation worked. You need to reboot your iPod which you achieve by holding down the play button and the menu button together at the same time for 5 seconds. You will then see the Apple logo which is the iPod re-booting. When you see the Apple logo, press down the re-wind button for 5 seconds and this kicks in the new Wikipedia section of your iPod.

6. If everything looks OK, you now need to download the huge 1.7 GB Wikipedia file. When it is downloaded, go to your iPod folder on your PC, specifically to “dataencyclopodialibrary” and place the file in there.

7. Again, eject and re-boot the iPod, use the rewind button to go to your Wikipedia section and see if the Wikipedia file works properly.

Install Wikipedia on Your iPod

To make a search, just use the scroll wheel to choose letters to spell your search term (just like you would choose the keys on a mobile phone to type a SMS message). Then press the “play” button to start searching.

A few extra pointers:


*When accessing the Wikipedia file on your iPod, you have to go into “settings” first and alter the screen contrast and the wheel sensitivity. It will be totally off-whack the first time you access it.

*The older your iPod, the slower it will be to retrieve information from the Wikipedia file. Your iPod might even crash, prompting you to re-boot. So this works best with the newer iPod models.

*Every 6 months or so, download the Wikipedia file again so you get the latest version. However, saying that, the current file is dated February 2007 so maybe once a year is more accurate!

*When you are in the Wikipedia section, pressing the menu button turns the back light on. The back light will stay on until you switch it off again so you can read the text easily. Be aware though that having the light continually on is a real battery drainer.

*To get back to your music section, you need to reboot the iPod again by holding down the menu button and the play button.

Related topics: iPod, Wiki, Wikipedia.

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  1. Roger
    December 7, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Will it work on a ipod nano 4gb???

    • Pitr
      March 28, 2020 at 7:38 am

      Works on 5th gen or lower. The 6th and 7th run modyfied IOS, they wont work

  2. annaaaaaa!
    January 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I'm kinda afraid to install this due to the comments of people. Anyway, would it work on iPod 4G? Mine's 16GB. HELPPP! Thank you. :D

  3. amandapassionparties
    August 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I had tried the iPodLinux link it doesn't work. To bad because I just got an old verison i-pod for free.

  4. all politics aside
    May 26, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    the new ipod classic has not been hacked, therefore the simple answer is no. However all you need to do in ipod preferences is enable disk use

  5. daniel
    October 30, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Yeah i got it to install then i downloaded the 1.7gb file and put it under the library and the ipod detects it but when i go in to search something...it just takes me to a blank screen after i have imputed the word. Any suggestions on how to fix this?

  6. kevin thao
    October 2, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    umm yea wat generation ipod is that?

  7. kaitlyn
    August 5, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    any chance of it working on an iPod touch?

  8. Crispy_stuf
    July 4, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    My ipod (80g) has a hacked firmware and also has ipod linex installed. I thought you said linux doesnt support 5th gen ><

  9. Max
    May 6, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    hey this seems like a great app. I've installed it and it seems to work but my contrast makes it completely useless. I can't see a thing. Hoping you could give me a step by step (click by click) process on how to reach the menu item to change the contrast. Thanks

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 7, 2008 at 8:38 am

      I agree that the contrast DOES suck but that is because this is an old program which is not really updated that much any more and it only works on the older iPods. If I want to read a Wikipedia entry, I just turn on the iPod backlight for a moment if I can't read the text. To my knowledge, there is NO other way to change the contrast.

  10. seth
    April 13, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    ipod classic will it work????????????

  11. Colin- not the same one listed below
    February 19, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    actually, this will work on 5th generation ipods. you just need to replace the "sysinfo" file (which is empty) with a patched one of your own creation. there's a guide on how to do this here.
    [Broken Link Removed]

    do not reboot your ipod after you do this, or your ipod will overwrite the new file with an empty one. And yes, i've tried this, it does work.

  12. Magpie
    February 2, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    This is so cool. I have some old iPods and MP3 players I'm going to start playing with

  13. Lynn
    January 31, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I'd like to download this for my iPod, but the truth is, I'm afraid to install iPodLinux on my little 1st gen nano. It's only a two gig, so it would leave me no room for anything else, but that's not really the issue. My issue is the fact that it seems to be fairly unstable. It crashes from time to time (but that might be because I have it formatted for Windows. Someone show me something formatted for Windows that doesn't crash periodically, and I will bow down to you :P) and it would make me nervous to install this with such a mottled running history. Besides, I don't think 1st gen nanos are officially supported by iPodLinux, are they? I hear they can run it, but it's haphazard. Anyone have any pros and cons to me installing this?

  14. Mark O'Neill
    January 3, 2008 at 5:05 am

    @Tchaney84 : what version of iPod are you using?

    Am I the only person whom this works for?

    I'm going to contact the iPodLinux project people and ask them to respond to the concerns in these comments.

  15. Diabolic Preacher
    January 3, 2008 at 12:48 am

    are there no torrent links for the big wikipedia file...its wikipedia after all and its big...what better way to spread the knowledge than a torrent. downloading thru torrent will be faster for most people and certainly won't be a big load on sourceforge site. the sourceforge page can enlist the torrent link as well as provide the md5 value to verify authenticity.

  16. Tchaney84
    January 2, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Okay, I checked the Ebook reader as the default boot system, because I have an old ipod and a new ipod and want to put wikipedia on the old one. Anyway, I can't get the computer to read the system anymore, and I can't boot into the music screen anymore. When I boot, it goes ebook reader. When I press rewind, it goes ebook reader. I'm trying all the other keys but I doubt they work.

  17. Anonymous
    December 31, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Or just buy an internet enabled phone which takes an SD card for MP3 files.... problem solved.

    • anon
      June 28, 2008 at 11:44 pm

      Why would that work? This is a linux application that requires a Linux OS to execute on.

  18. Danne
    December 31, 2007 at 7:45 am

    i would like to ave this one my ipodtouch. I usualy doesnt have a good connection to the internet.

  19. Mark O'Neill
    December 31, 2007 at 6:33 am

    As for the program not working on newer models of the iPod, I would like to apologise for those who spent the time trying and failing to get the program to work. Since I only have a very old iPod, it was impossible for me to check for the newer models. So I just made the assumption that if it worked for me, it would work for everyone. It subsequently seems to be not the case and for that I apologise.

    I will shortly amend the article to properly credit iPodLinux, now that I have been informed of their existence. I don't want to deny them their credit.

  20. Mark O'Neill
    December 31, 2007 at 6:18 am

    @John - that's because I didn't know about iPodLinux. Someone emailed me the link to the Sourceforge page and it was based on this page that I wrote the article.

    If I had known of the existence of iPodLinux, I would of course credited them. I do not, under any circumstances, like to miss giving credit where credit is due.

    Maybe you should have thought about all of that before you acted like a 5 year old and verbally abused me?

  21. John
    December 31, 2007 at 3:50 am

    That's pretty fscked up.

    This article didn't even credit or MENTION iPodLinux, the project responsible for this being possible.

    Nice going, prick.

    Oh, and for other people:


    It is done by writing a bootloader to an iPod's firmware, partitioning the storage device on the iPod, and then writing a new (Linux based) operating system to the new partition. The new operating system contains the Wikipodia application, and the uClinux kernel.

    • John
      December 31, 2007 at 3:52 am

      Oh, I forgot, iPod Classics, Touches, and iPhones aren't supported as well, the reason being that Apple started encrypting the firmware with a key that only they know, that stops people from modifying the new firmware.

  22. jt
    December 31, 2007 at 3:14 am

    does this work on the ipod mini (4 gb)?

  23. rajesh
    December 31, 2007 at 1:13 am

    anything for zune yet?

    • TheMadCow
      December 31, 2007 at 2:39 am

      I guess having 1 of the 50 zunes that either were purchased or given away would probably qualify as a "small" market segment. Okay, maybe it was more than 50...


      But still, what's the point?

      • Jerse
        December 31, 2007 at 9:10 am

        The point happens to be that the Zune defeats or is equal to the iPod in pretty much every aspect.

        Here's some proof:

        [Broken Link Removed]

        So get us some fucking Wikipedia already!

        • Colin
          January 24, 2008 at 3:37 am

          The makers of zune (that's Microsoft) are also the makers of the website you presented a link to. In the page you link to is a collection of images depicting a model of zune player next to a model of full size ipod. Please note that for effect, only the zune's screen is on, giving the zune an edge for showiness. It might interest you to know that on that point alone, the ipods have higher resolution screens with greater viewing angles, simply because the screen manufacturer is better. I wont bother to read whatever tripe is on the page you linked to; I generally try to avoid biased comparisons made by competitors.
          In essence, Jerse, you can shove that zune of yours up your ass. And please, do something about that lack of foresight will you?

        • Jacob
          January 28, 2008 at 7:30 pm

          I second that Colin!

  24. Rohan Dhruva
    December 31, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Many people are having problems because this article does not make it clear--

    This trick will NOT work on 6th gen IPODS, and 2nd, 3nd gen nanos.
    It will work only on iPods supported by ipodlinux, so have a look here--

    I think the article should be edited to make this clear.

  25. Ben
    December 31, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Will this work on my 160 gb iPod Classic? People seem to be having trouble with it on video iPods..

  26. xanfantasy
    December 30, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Does this work on a Ipod Nano 3d gen? I have an 8 gb one

  27. Jeff K
    December 30, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Are the smart peoples going to UPDATE this for the Ipod TOUCH?!?!?

    • eric
      December 30, 2007 at 11:18 pm

      I think smart people would realize Ipod Touch can access Wikipedia via the internet.

      • Brian
        December 31, 2007 at 12:17 am

        Too bad Wi-Fi isnt available everywhere you go =(

  28. Curly
    December 30, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Wow, I remember this being 700 megs a couple of years ago!

  29. jerry
    December 30, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    it appears that this will not work on the ipod videos

    • Arcanu
      December 30, 2007 at 8:13 pm

      Yeah, I have ipod nano Video.... no luck.

  30. Joe
    December 30, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I've tried this many many times & it's only supported on older versions of the Ipod.... 4g & earlier versions only!

  31. Nick
    December 30, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    I too am having issues getting this to work. I have the 160gb model and followed all instructions, with no luck. Every time I run the program, it tells me no ipod found.

    I'm using windows XP

  32. peter guszti
    December 31, 2007 at 1:02 am

    I will try on my iphone, i would guess its the same, [Broken Link Removed]

  33. Kevin
    December 30, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    i have a 30 gig video ipod and when i try to run the setup it says my generation ipod is not supported. lame.

  34. Michael
    December 30, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Hi Mark

    Yeah I tried having iTunes open as well. iTunes seems to have exclusive access to the iPod - maybe this is stopping it? I am using Vista - this could be it as well?

  35. Mark O'Neill
    December 30, 2007 at 7:23 am

    @Scott & shivycop : I have absolutely no idea. Why don't you give it a go and find out?

    Here is the official project page : http://sourceforge.net/projects/encyclopodia/ . Maybe you might find something out there?

  36. shivycop
    December 30, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Can it be downloaded on Archos 605 wifi?

  37. Michael
    December 30, 2007 at 5:55 am

    Can't seem to get this to work. I have an 80 gig ipod - fairly new. I downloaded the installer as instructed. Ipod is connected & recognised by iTunes. I closed iTunes (ipod still recognised) and ran installer - it says no ipod found!

    • Mark O'Neill
      December 30, 2007 at 6:45 am


      Did you open up iTunes and tick "enable disk use"?

      When running the installer, make sure your iPod is still connected to your computer (sounds silly to say that I know but sometimes my iPod connection blinks on and off).

      Maybe even keep iTunes open during the installation procedure?

      This is all speculation on my part as everything worked first time for me.

      • Matt
        December 30, 2007 at 6:54 pm

        I'm having the same problem as Michael.

        I've checked and double-checked that "enable disk use" is checked, the iPod is plugged in and appears in iTunes, but the installer still tells me its not found.

      • Rohan Dhruva
        December 31, 2007 at 1:06 am

        It will NOT work on the 5th gen ipods, and nano 2nd gen. They've got encrypted firmware.
        Basically, wikipedia works only on ipods with ipodlinux supports, so you can check out the list here -- http://ipodlinux.org/Project_Status

    • ben
      December 30, 2007 at 7:30 pm

      did you apply the changes? that happened to me too. it still said it didn't work with my ipod though

  38. Scott
    December 30, 2007 at 1:34 am

    Any chance of this working on a Zune?

    • adam
      December 30, 2007 at 11:36 pm

      no - since the zune's hdd can't be accessed without a registry hack, and can't normally be written to without some trickery, and furthermore no foreign apps can be installed on it anyway. so basically, there's no chance of this ever happening on the zune. not until the possibility of games on the zune come our way..