Wikipedia may not be the most reliable source for information, but it is certainly one of the most up to date when it comes to encyclopedia based content. Lots of people use it, I certainly do every now and then, and that includes Wikileaks too. Unfortunately, such sites require internet access in order to browse them. Kiwix is a Windows application that allows you to download content from various platforms like Wikipedia and Wikileaks specifically for offline viewing.
What is it and what does it do
Kiwix is an application that allows you to download content from various online resource platforms like Wikipedia or Wikileaks. It’s available in a portable package and a traditional install one. You cannot pick and choose the content you download, instead you download large bundles of content all at once. Sure, there are different bundles available for some of the platforms, but really it’s all or none when it comes to Kiwix.
Take note Kiwix works on Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and Linux. For the purposes of this review, we took a look at the Windows version.
- Download Wikipedia, Wikileaks and Wikivoyage content for offline viewing
- Save pages, after you have downloaded them, individually as PDF documents
- All content and links remain intact and work properly if you’re connected to the internet
- Incredibly easy to use, and the downloads are quick to start
- When the portable version was scanned, VirusTotal returned 1/44 potential flags with Jiangmin recognizing “Suspect.Package.RLO”. This is likely a false positive, but proceed with caution.
- Does not allow you to download individual pages — you can only download “books” and bundles/libraries in bulk
- Largest Wikipedia bundle was last updated in March, 2012, meaning you won’t get the latest up-to-date content
Kiwix is available in a portable version which requires an archive tool like WinZIP, WinRAR, or 7ZIP to extract the contents. Once extracted, the application can be run from any directory including that of an external drive. That being said, if you do not store the downloaded resources in the same directory then you’ll have to do it every time you move the app to a new computer. The largest Wikipedia bundle requires just under 10GB of storage space, so ensure that you have a big enough flash drive.
The first time you launch the application it will ask you if you want to download books or catalogs. Make sure you select “yes,” and if you do decide to dismiss that window then deselect the “never show this” again option. If you select no, you will have to redownload the application to download the catalog of directories. Adversely, you would have to download the directories one at a time.
The UI is quite simple. There are two tabs, one for personally downloaded content, and the other for acquiring new content. If you choose to download the entire catalog of books and data, you will see content from many different languages. Luckily, on the “get new files” tab you can filter results by language. You can download bundles like the entire Wikipedia catalog (9.68GB), the Wikileaks Afghan War Diary, and Wikivoyage travel content and more.
It’s worth noting that the most recent Wikipedia library was last updated on March 23, 2012. Any content created after that will have been left out. Sadly, that means a lot if you’re looking for information on modern tech like smartphones, game consoles and stuff of that nature.
Once a database has been downloaded, the content is displayed in a simple list form. You can click on any of the related articles to be brought to a clone of the online Wikipedia page. All links remain intact, which means if you have an active internet connection you click browse other Wikipedia pages online through your browser by interacting with inline links. Otherwise, you navigate through a catalog with the back button and list interface.
You can save and print individual pages as PDF files if you wish, and there’s a button to jump to a random article stored in your library. You can even change the app skin, but there are only two available and it requires a restart of the program to apply them.
Kiwix uses about 63MB of RAM while running, so it’s definitely not as light as one would hope. Still, it’s not too ridiculous either.
Conclusion and download link
Kiwix is a capable offline reader for Wikipedia and similar platforms. It does what it claims to do — allow you to read Wikipedia offline. However, it only allows you to download “books” or data bundles in large packages, so if you’re looking to store just individual pages you’ll have to look elsewhere. Also, the largest downloadable Wikipedia bundle hasn’t been updated since March, 2012. That means any information added to the platform after that date will not be found in the package.
Overall, it’s not the best software around, but it’s certainly not the worst. If you’re looking for offline Wikipedia access, you should check this one out at the least.
Version reviewed: 0.9 rc2
Supported OS: Windows 8/7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, Android, Linux
Download size: 34.6MB (zipped portable), 82.5MB (unzipped portable)
VirusTotal malware scan results: 1/41  (portable)
Is it portable? Yes
Kiwix homepage