Adding a shortcut to a random Wikipedia article to your iPhone home screen

I love Wikipedia. I might go there to read up on a fact, and stay for hours browsing linked articles. I respond to Jimmy Wales’ appeals and donate every year. I correct mistakes when I see them. In short, I’m a fan.

Wikipedia has a cool little feature for exploring it — Random article. Simply navigate to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random and learn all about moths, homeostasis, Republic of South Africa’s decorations and many, many, many more things. Naturally, I wanted to get it on my iPhone’s home screen. It definitely beats browsing Facebook!

Surely, this must be easy? Let’s see, open Safari on my phone, navigate to the page, hit the share button, then “Add to Home Screen” and I’m all set, right? Well, not quite. Navigating to the random page doesn’t work, because it immediately redirects me to an article. Long pressing on the “Random” link in Wikipedia brings up the “Share…” option, but “Add to Home Screen” is not available there. Finally, adding a wrong page to home screen and attempting to change the URL won’t fly either — the URL is greyed out and cannot be altered.

I have, indeed, tried all of the above-mentioned steps and got stuck. Then I turned my sights to search engines. I figured, there must be a way to add shortcuts to my home screen other than sharing from Safari. As it turns out, there is!

Enter Apple Configurator 2, a tool that makes it easy to bulk-configure iOS devices. In my case, I just needed to configure one — mine. So, how do we add the Random article link to the home screen?

  1. Install the Apple Configurator 2 — it should be available for free in your Mac App Store
  2. Launch the app on your Mac
  3. Hit File, New Profile
  4. Give it a name (for example, “Wikipedia Random Article”)
  5. In the left section of the UI, scroll all the way down to “Web Clips”
  6. Hit the Configure button
  7. Fill out the label (let’s say “Wiki Random”) and the URL (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random)
  8. Set the icon — the Wikipedia icon from Wikimedia should work well (https://goo.gl/oAVdBL)
  9. Save the profile (by hitting Cmd-S)
Profile Editing Screen

Now, all you need is to deploy the profile to your iOS device. It can be done via Apple Configurator 2 by going to the Actions menu and selecting Add, Profiles… Alternatively, one can just download the profile directly to the device by grabbing it from a URL.

For your convenience, I’ve pre-made the Wikipedia Random Article profile. To install the shortcut:

  1. Open https://goo.gl/s42aMX in Mobile Safari
  2. Tap on Download
  3. Safari will say “This website is trying to open Settings to show you a configuration profile. Do you want to allow this?” Select “Allow”
  4. The “Install Profile” screen will come up, tap on “Install”, enter your passcode if needed
  5. You will get a warning saying the profile is not signed. Select “Install” again, then “Done”
Install Profile Screen

Go back to your home screen, and enjoy the “Wiki Random” shortcut! Note that the icon will be initially black (at least it was for me on iOS 11) but will turn into the Wikipedia logo after a use or two.

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