MediaWiki Images – What you need to know about uploading and inserting images

Images and screenshots are an essential part of the content. The visualization of content supports the understanding and the motivation to spend time on the text. But how can I upload pictures in MediaWiki and how do I insert it in an article? I will show you three ways how to display the pictures in your article – one in an original MediaWiki and two in BlueSpice. Also I will give you some background information on images in MediaWiki.

1. Uploading and inserting pictures in MediaWiki

If you are using a “normal” MediaWiki, you need to do two steps on two different places in the wiki. First, you have to upload the image with a tool on a special page and then it must be inserted in the article(s).


There is a so-called special page, which enables you to upload an image. This special page can be found at “Special:Upload”. There is also a link in the listed tools, which are mostly located in the navigation. Open this page and you will see the uploading tool from MediaWiki.

Special page to upload files
Special page to upload files

Browse your files and choose the image you want to upload. Click “Upload file” to save the picture in your wiki. Keep the file name in mind – you will need it to find the right file when inserting it in an article. A good advice is, to name the file with a descriptive file name, which means that the file names describes what is seen on the picture. A file with the title “DIC2009.jpg” can hardly be found later and other users won´t know what kind of picture this is.

Inserting images articles:

This is the tricky part. Call up the article you want to insert the picture in. Switch to the edit mode and place your cursor at the position where the picture should be shown. Insert the following code there:


This is the first step – the image has been inserted in the article and is displayed there. Now you can choose between several parameters to configure the image, e.g. the size of the picture, alignment, if it should be shown as a thumb and so on. Decide what parameters you want and add it in the code, separated with straight lines (a so-called “Pipes”) after the name of the image. This is, for example, the code for a thumb with the size 200px, which is placed on the left side of the text:

Alignment left, right, center, none Defines, where in the text the image is placed (text flow)
Decoration thumb, frame Thumb and frame
Size 200px Set the size of the image in pixel (the picture will be scaled automatically)
Linking link= Set a link (if no link is set, a click on the image automatically opens the meta page of the image)
Caption text Insert a description The caption will only be displayed, when the image is configured as a thumb, otherwise the description will be shown by mouseover


Example of MediaWiki syntax for images
Example of MediaWiki syntax for images

For further details about how to represent images in other ways take a look at the Wikipedia picture tutorial.

2. Upload and insert images with a dialogue

BlueSpice is a free Open Source MediaWiki distribution. It is installed on top of a MediaWiki. The content stays the same, but BlueSpice is well-designed, user-friendly and brings along some useful additional features. In the gratis version BlueSpice free, inter alia the InsertImage dialogue. With this little helper, you don´t need to cope with the wiki syntax anymore. You can insert a picture very comfortable and it also enables you to upload an image directly in the article you are editing and without changing to the upload page of MediaWiki.

Dialogue for inserting, uploading and scaling images in BlueSpice
Dialogue for inserting, uploading and scaling images in BlueSpice

This is how it works:

Switch to the editing mode of the article you want to insert the image at. Click on the symbol for the InsertImage dialogue. An extra window opens up and provides an upload button. Click on it to browse your files and to choose an image file for uploading. You can also add a description or a category for the image. Confirm your choice with “OK” and the file will be automatically uploaded to your wiki. After this, you can also do further adjustment of the wiki in this dialogue, e.g. set size, alignment and linkings. Confirm with “OK” again and the image is integrated in your article.

3. Upload and insert images with drag & drop or copy & paste

This functionality also requires BlueSpice and in addition to this, the fee required package BlueSpice [paste image]. You can get it in the BlueSpice Shop or in the subscription BlueSpice pro.

Drag and drop images into a wiki page
Drag and drop images into a wiki page

Open the article you want to insert the image at in the editing mode. If you want to include a picture from the clipboard, place the cursor at the position where it should be shown and press Ctrl+v. Or choose an image file in your explorer, hold it with pressed left mouse button and move it to the appropriate position in your article. The InsertImage dialogue opens, like described in chapter 2. Define your settings for the picture and confirm with “OK”. The image will be uploaded and inserted in the article.

Meta page and administration of images in MediaWiki and BlueSpice

Images are usually uploaded and stored in the “file” namespace. Users often detect an uploaded image as a normal content article in this namespace. Click on an image in any article and (if there is no other linking) you will be redirected to this meta page of the image.

Meta page of an image
Meta page of an image

Here you will find information on resolution and size, as well as links to the articles the image is used at. By the way, images and files are also versioned, so on the meta page you will find the versioning for this image. If you click on “Upload a new version of this file” you can upload a new file with the same file name and overwrite the old image with the new one. The image will be updated automatically in every article it is used at. Of course you can also do a roll-back.

In MediaWiki there are also special pages that create special lists related to images. Just call up one of the following special pages by inserting them in the URL behind the slash e.g. “”

  • Spezial:Upload – Call up the upload tool
  • Special:MostLinkedFiles – List of files that are used very often
  • Special:ListFiles – This special page shows all uploaded files of the wiki. Search for certain files here.
  • Special:NewFiles – This special page shows the last uploaded files
  • Special:UncategorizedFiles – Shows files without an assigned category

To find out more on the technical administration please have a look at

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