Navigating WordPress as an Admin

Customize your settings for a better editing experience.

WordPress is a powerful tool, and navigating its many features and options can be overwhelming at first. These tips will help you make the most out of the WordPress dashboard and editor.

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Many of these settings only need to be changed once and then will be saved as your default. Changing these settings affects only you; other editors of the site will set their own preferences.

Toggling between your live site and the page editor

If you’re logged into a site, a black utility bar appears at the top of the site. If you know you’re logged in and the toolbar isn’t appearing, refresh the page.

This admin bar is your toggle between the live site and the editor. If you’re viewing the live site and click on the site name in the toolbar, you’ll be taken to the dashboard. If you’re in the site editor and click the site name in the toolbar, you’ll go to the homepage.

Similarly, the admin toolbar allows you to edit any page you’re viewing. On the live site, go to a page you want to edit, then click Edit Page (or Edit Post, Edit Person, etc.) in the toolbar. Voilà! Now you’re in edit mode.

Screenshot showing the admin toolbar in WordPress with the Edit Page option circled

Want to go back to the live page? Click View Page (or View Post, View Person, etc.), and there you are! Just make sure you’ve saved your changes first. Alternatively, you can preview changes without saving them.

Screenshot showing the admin toolbar in WordPress with the View Page option circled

Seeing a list of all pages or posts

From your site’s dashboard, click on Pages (or Posts, People, Items, etc) in the left menu to see a list of all pages or posts — published, private and drafts. 

By default, WordPress lists up to 20 pages per screen here. To increase this number, click Screen Options in the top right corner of your screen and change the number of items per page. We like to just add a 0 to the end of 20 and make it 200.

Screenshot showing the Pages view in WordPress with Screen Options circled
WordPress showing the Screen Options for Pages with the Pagination section circled

Then click Apply. Your new preference will be saved for future sessions as well.

Turning off the fullscreen editor

When you’re editing an individual page or post, the editor starts out by default in fullscreen mode, which hides the dashboard and admin toolbar. However, some users prefer to work with a slightly smaller editor, which allows you to also see the WordPress menu and admin toolbar.

Screenshot of the WordPress page editor with full screen mode enabled.
The WordPress page editor in full screen mode.
Screenshot of the WordPress page editor with full screen mode disabled.
The WordPress page editor with full screen mode disabled.

To toggle this setting, simply press Shift + Alt + W (PC) or Command + Shift + Option (Mac) on your keyboard. Or click the kebab icon (three vertical dots) in the top right corner of your screen and select Fullscreen mode.

Using the top toolbar in the block editor

When you’re editing an individual block, some block settings — such as font and alignment options — appear in a toolbar that appears either directly above the block, or at the top of the page editor (top toolbar). 

Screenshot of the WordPress page editor with the top toolbar enabled.
The WordPress editor with the top toolbar enabled.
Screenshot of the WordPress page editor with the top toolbar disabled.
The WordPress editor with the top toolbar disabled.

You can control where this toolbar appears by toggling the Top toolbar setting; click the kebab symbol in the top right corner of your window and click Top toolbar.

Screenshot showing the View settings in WordPress with Top toolbar circled

One thing to note: enabling the top toolbar removes your ability to rearrange blocks by dragging and dropping. You’ll need to use the up and down arrow options on the toolbar to move blocks around instead.

By default, a page or post’s featured image may be collapsed and difficult to find in the page editor. On the right side of the page editor, make sure Page is selected at the top of the settings panel. In the list of settings, find Featured Image; if it is collapsed, click it to expand.