Wikipedia is the world’s most popular and up to date encyclopedia. It is like an external brain of sorts that we can access anytime to gain knowledge about hundreds of thousands of topics, but only as long as we have internet access. That really doesn’t have to be the case though, since you can use Kiwix to download and read the entirety of Wikipedia completely offline.
The program is available as a portable application, but can also be installed the traditional way. When you launch it for the first time, it asks you to download the catalogue of available wikis, which you definitely must download. Once the catalog is ready, you can click on File > Browse library to see the list of available wikis you can download for reading offline. For purposes of testing, we downloaded Wikipedia in Simple English (730MB). If you want the more popular version – Wikipedia in English – you can download the sum total of it as updated till March 23rd, 2012 in the form of a 9.3GB download. You won’t find much information on latest topics like the Xbox One or the Royal Baby, obviously, but that won’t be an issue for most people.
You can quickly search for new wikis to download from the Library view, download and ‘install’ in one click, add notes, bookmark pages, export pages in PDF or HTML, and read multiple Wikipedia pages with tabination. For advanced users, it can also be set up as a web server allowing people on your network to access Kiwix from the local server without downloading huge files. It works really well, and is completely free.