Wikipedia data structure
Subject namespacesTalk namespaces
2UserUser talk3
4WikipediaWikipedia talk5
6FileFile talk7
8MediaWikiMediaWiki talk9
10TemplateTemplate talk11
12HelpHelp talk13
14CategoryCategory talk15
100PortalPortal talk101
108BookBook talk109
118DraftDraft talk119
446Education ProgramEducation Program talk447
710TimedTextTimedText talk711
828ModuleModule talk829
2300GadgetGadget talk2301
2302Gadget definitionGadget definition talk2303

The File namespace is a namespace consisting of administration pages in which all of Wikipedia's media content resides. On Wikipedia all media filenames begin with the prefix File:, including data files for images, video clips, or audio clips, including document length clips; or midi files (a small, computer-instructions file).

Search for files, or upload your own file. (See Uploading files below.) A search lists every file page containing all the search terms found on the file page. From the search box enter File:descriptive terms.  For example, include the terms image, video, or midi in the query. Then, discovering the page name you can edit the wikitext of any page and insert that media. This is an easy way to significantly improve articles. (See Using files below.) For example, the page title "File:CI 2011 swim 04 jeh.theora.ogv" will appear in the search results for File: swim video.

There are three semantic differences from the normal wikilink syntax when working with a file page:

  • [[File:pagename]] will transclude the file, inserting the image, video or audio into the rendered page in a file link; however for MIDI files, it works as usual and a link to the file page will be inserted. A file link is a transclusion from the File namespace, complete with transclusion parameters.
  • [[:File:pagename]], with the initial colon, will link the image, video or audio file page;
  • [[Media:pagename]] will render a link which can activate the image or audio or video of a data file directly, on its own page (separate from the rendered page or the file page).

For backward compatibility with older pages the alias Image: (now deprecated) is still available instead of File: in wikilinks or in the search box, but "image" will now refer to more types of data files than just images.

Uploading files

A Wikimedia Foundation brochure in PDF form that introduces newcomers to Wikimedia Commons and how they can contribute to it.

The first step in using an image or other media file is to choose an upload server. Some files must use Wikipedia's upload server. Many files can use the Wikimedia Commons upload server which homes files at Wikimedia Commons. (Commons does not allow fair use. If the image is non-free then you may need to upload it to Wikipedia.) All files uploaded are mirrored between Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, and searchable from either one. (See Special:Filelist.)

The preferred formats

You may have to rename your file for Wikipedia: see Naming files below. Also, please bear in mind that the Exif format of many digital cameras, smartphones, and scanners may embed personal metadata, and that if your media files are handled by unknown persons, "steno programs" can imbed hidden information in them.

High resolution images and animated .gif files may pose a problem for performance, but see the problem description in terms of bandwidth and reader's computing power at Consideration of image download size. For photographs in JPEG format, upload the best quality and highest resolution version available; these will be automatically scaled down to low-resolution thumbnails when needed.

Once the file is uploaded, please verify its file page image quality and description, considering how its key words help tag it for proper indexing in a search result. If a file of the same name exists on both Wikipedia and Commons, the Wikipedia file will be displayed.

Copyrighted materials cannot be uploaded to either location; see Wikipedia:Image use policy. Files subject to any restrictions whatsoever, even "for use on Wikipedia only", may not be free enough. In case an image is non-free content, use low-resolution, low-bandwidth files.