How To Manage WordPress Users
In this tutorial, you will learn about different user roles in WordPress and how to manage your site’s users effectively using the WordPress Users section.
WordPress allows users to work collaboratively and contribute to your site.
Depending on how you want to run your site, you may want to grant or restrict access to certain areas or functions.
For example, you may want some users (but not all) to be able to:
- Access private content,
- Write and submit posts, but not be able to edit or publish these.
- Manage posts and pages (write, edit, publish, delete, etc.),
- Moderate comments,
- Install and delete plugins and themes and perform updates and other administrative tasks, including managing other users.
WordPress lets you assign different roles to users.
These roles include different permissions, which define capabilities, i.e. roles specify what users can and cannot do on your site.
All of this is done in the Users section of your WordPress admin area (covered further below).
WordPress Roles, Permissions, And Capabilities
WordPress installs with several default roles:
- Super Admin (Multisite WordPress installations only)
Users assigned one of the above roles can perform all tasks defined within the permissions and capabilities of that role.
Role permissions and capabilities are also hierarchical.
In most WordPress installations, the role with the highest level of permissions and capabilities is the Administrator role.
As you will see, Administrators (Admins) have complete control over all aspects of your site.
From there, each of the other roles has a subordinate or decreasing number of allowed capabilities.
For instance, someone assigned the role of Subscriber can only read content on your site – they cannot modify it in any way.
An Author can create a new post on your site, but they cannot edit it (the Editor, however, can edit and delete posts that an author has written.)
Note: The Super Admin role is only available in WordPress multisite installations. Super Admins can perform all Admin capabilities including managing the Admins of all sites on the Multisite network.
Summary of Roles
- Super Admin: This role gives the user access to network administration features controlling your entire network of WordPress sites (see WordPress Multisite).
- Administrator: This role gives the user access to all administration features and privileges on your site.
- Editor: This role gives the user the ability to publish and manage posts and pages as well as manage other users’ posts, etc.
- Author: This role gives the user the ability to publish and manage their own posts.
- Contributor: This role gives the user the ability to write and manage their own posts but not publish them.
- Subscriber: Users assigned this role can only manage their profile. For example, if you run a membership or directory site, you may want to allow members to edit their own member profiles but not modify any other part of your site.
Here are some things to keep in mind about WordPress roles and capabilities:
- Installing certain plugins can add new roles and capabilities to your site. For example, Advertiser, Organizer, etc.
- Membership plugins (and various directory plugins) use the WordPress roles and capabilities feature to automate the creation and registration of new users and new user roles (e.g. ‘Members’).
- Some WordPress plugins (see further below) allow you to add new custom roles and customize the capabilities of existing roles.
To learn more about the specific capabilities of default WordPress roles, see this section of the official WordPress documentation site.
Typically, WordPress assigns the role of Administrator to the user who created the site.
Anyone responsible for managing the site should be assigned the role of Administrator.
Normally, this would be a web developer tasked with the responsibility of looking after the site and/or the owner of the site (site owners have to be able to access the backend of their own sites).
Larger organizations may also want to assign the role of Administrator to multiple users on their site.
Although WordPress lets you add virtually unlimited users and assign any role to any user, for security reasons, it’s best to assign the role of Administrator to as few users as possible and only to users who need access to your site’s backend capabilities.
Never give out your Administrator login or password details as this can compromise the security of your site.
If you need to provide access to your site to other people (e.g. for technical support), create a temporary “Admin” account that you can delete afterward (see the section further below on how to create and assign user roles in WordPress).
How To Access And View Users
To access and view the Users section, log into your WordPress admin area, then go to the main menu in your WordPress Dashboard and either click on the main Users menu tab…
Or select Users > All Users to view all the registered users on your site.
This brings up the ‘Users’ screen.
The Users screen lists all registered users on your site and displays information about users, such as:
- Email Address
- Their assigned Role
- How many Posts they have authored (to learn how to assign posts to different users, see this tutorial)
If you can’t see information displayed on the Users screen (e.g. their email addresses), click on the ‘Screen Options’ tab and review your settings.
You can display or hide information by ticking or unticking checkboxes, and change the number of entries displayed on your screen (remember to click the ‘Apply’ button to update new settings).
Note: If your site has many users, use the Screen Options > Pagination settings to manage the Users screen table size using the pagination feature.
WordPress User Management Tasks
You can perform various management tasks in the Users section, like:
- Add new users.
- Edit user profiles.
- Delete users (individually or in bulk).
- Reassign user roles (individually or in bulk).
- Search for users (this is useful if you run a membership site and have many registered users).
Let’s go through each of these user management functions.
How To Add New WordPress Users
To add new users and give them login access to your site, go to Users > Add New.
You can also add new users from your ‘Users’ screen by clicking on Add New.
This brings up the ‘Add New User’ screen.
Enter the following information for your new users on this screen:
- Username: This field is required. Enter a username here. Choose carefully as you cannot easily change the username (if you need to change the username, however, see this tutorial).
- Email: This field is also required. Enter your user’s contact email address. WordPress will use this email address to send users notifications (e.g. links to reset passwords).
- First Name: Enter your user’s first name.
- Last Name: Enter your user’s last name.
- Website: This is an optional field. Complete this field if you want to or leave it empty.
- Password: Make sure to create a strong password for users. You can enter your own or use the WordPress built-in password generator.
- Send User Notification: Check this box if you want your new user to receive a notification email about their account. Deselect it if you don’t want your new user to have access to their login password.
- Role: Select the role you want to assign to your new user from the drop-down menu.
After entering the new user’s details, remember to click on Add New User to save your changes.
The new user details will be added to your site and display in the Table of Users.
The site administrator will receive a notification email that a new user has registered on the site.
The new user will also receive a registration email containing his or her login details.
Edit User Profiles
Site administrators can edit the details of any registered site users, including their own. Other roles normally do not have access to the profiles of other users but can edit their own.
To edit your own profile, log into your WordPress administration area and select Users > Your Profile from the main dashboard menu.
You can also get there without leaving the Table of Users by hovering over their username and clicking on the ‘Edit’ link.
This brings up the User Profile screen.
For a tutorial on how to edit details in the User Profile screen, go here: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile
You can delete users individually or perform bulk user deletions in the WordPress Users section.
Delete Users Individually
To delete a single user, locate the user you want to delete, then hover over their username. An inline menu will display the options to edit, delete, or view their details.
Click the ‘Delete’ link to remove the user from your site.
You will be asked to confirm the deletion.
If the user has any content assigned to them, you will also see the following options:
- Delete all content. Select this option to delete all content associated with the user.
- Attribute all content to: To transfer and attribute all content from the deleted user’s account to another user, select an existing user from this dropdown menu.
Click on the ‘Confirm Deletion’ button to proceed.
The user will be deleted, and their details will be removed from your database.
Bulk Delete Users
Bulk deleting users is useful if you want to delete many users at once (e.g. delete spam registrations).
To bulk delete users, select all the checkboxes of the users you want to be removed from your site.
Select ‘Delete’ from the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop-down menu.
With ‘Delete’ selected, click the Apply button.
Click on the ‘Confirm Deletion’ button to proceed.
As stated earlier, if users have been assigned any content, you will also see the following options:
- Delete all content. Select this option to delete all content associated with the user.
- Attribute all content to: Select an existing user from the dropdown menu to assign all content from the deleted user(s) to that user.
The selected users will be deleted, and their details will be removed from your database.
Change User Roles
Users can be assigned or reassigned to different roles either individually or in bulk.
Change Individual User Role
To assign or reassign an individual user’s role, hover over their username and click on the ‘Edit’ link.
This will bring up the ‘Edit User’ screen.
The option to change roles for that user is found in the Role section of this screen.
Scroll down to the ‘Role’ section and select a new role for the users from the drop-down menu.
Click the ‘Update User’ button to save your settings.
The user’s role will be updated. You can return to the Users screen or keep working on your site.
Bulk Role Changes
If your site has many registered users, you can perform bulk roles changes either by:
- Selecting individual user checkboxes, or
- Filtering a list of users by role using the menu filters in the Users screen.
For this example, let’s turn all users assigned the role of ‘Subscriber’ to ‘Authors’.
In the Users screen menu section, click on the Subscriber menu link. (Note: If no users are assigned a role, it will not display on the Users screen menu.)
This brings up a list of all users assigned the role of Subscriber.
To perform a bulk reassignment of user roles, select multiple users by checking the box next to their username. You can select users individually or click on the main bar’s checkbox to select all users on the list.
Choose the role you want to assign to all selected users from the ‘Change role to …’ drop-down menu.
With the role in the ‘Change role to …’ field selected, click on the ‘Change’ button.
All the users’ roles will be reassigned to the new role you have selected.
Search & Filter Users
If you have many registered users on your site, you can use search and filter features to find users quickly.
Use the ‘Search Users’ feature to search for users based on their details.
Enter your search term into the field and click the ‘Search Users’ button.
All results containing the search term will be returned.
As mentioned earlier, you can also filter users by role.
To view a list of all users assigned to a specific role, just click on the link above the Table of Users for that role.
This will return a list of all the users assigned to the selected role.
User Sorting Features
In addition to the search and filtering functions, the Table of Users in the Users screen lets you:
Sort users by Username in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order…
Sort users by their email address in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order…
View all posts attributed to that user. To do this, click on the hyperlinked number of posts displayed for that user in the Posts column…
A list of all the posts associated with that user will display in a filtered Posts table. This includes all their draft posts, scheduled posts, posts awaiting review, etc.
WordPress User Management Plugins
This section describes some useful WordPress plugins to help improve how you manage users on your site.
Customizing User Roles And Capabilities
Depending on what you plan to do on your site, you may need to go beyond the default capabilities of WordPress and create custom roles for specific users or enhance the default capabilities of your site’s existing roles. If this is something you need to do on your site, then check out the plugin below.
User Role Editor provides advanced user role management tools for WordPress.
The free version of the plugin can be downloaded and installed from the WordPress plugin repository or from your WordPress dashboard.
After installing and activating the plugin, you can easily create and edit new roles, and manage permissions for all users with just a few clicks.
You can also set specific capabilities for each role separately at an advanced and detailed level by simply ticking or unticking checkboxes.
The plugin also makes it easier to understand what the capabilities do in plain and simple language.
There are many useful things you can do with the User Role Editor plugin.
For example, you can allow or disallow a registered user to upload files to your site or disallow certain types of users to delete posts they have already published.
You can also customize roles by doing things like remove the ability of authors to publish posts on your site. This will force posts to be submitted for review by an administrator before being approved for publishing.
The plugin also adds additional functions to the Users screen, such as the ability to Grant Roles to users and Revoke roles assigned to existing users.
For more advanced capabilities, check out the plugin’s premium edition.
To learn more about this plugin, go here: User Role Editor
How To Change The Default User Registration Email In WordPress
As discussed earlier, when a new user registers on your WordPress site, they are sent a registration email containing their username and login details.
Normally, the default registration email is fine to send. It’s not an attractive email, but it “does the job”. If your business requires a more “welcoming” registration email, then use the plugin below:
Better Notifications For WordPress lets you customize the email notifications that WordPress sends to users.
You can customize the default WordPress email notifications and create new ones using a visual editor and shortcodes.
Newly registered users will then receive a more welcoming email when they register on your site.
You can also send notifications to individual users, multiple users, all users in a user role, multiple roles, and more.
The plugin allows you to build up a library of customized notification messages sent to users.
This plugin is useful if you run a community site, membership site, or directory, or allow guest authoring or collaboration and want to customize the messages and notifications sent to users.
To learn more about this plugin, go here: Better Notifications For WordPress
Congratulations! Now you know how to manage users on your WordPress site. We hope that you have found the above information useful.
Here are some additional WordPress tutorials you may find useful to help you manage users on your site:
- How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile
- How To Change Post Authors In WordPress
- How To Add A User Gravatar In WordPress
- User Security
Updated: April 9th, 2023