The WordPress Dashboard can seem overwhelming, at first. However, it’s actually quite easy to use and provides one of the most user-friendly ways to create a website or blog. For most, WordPress is the best choice.
If you’re interested in getting to know the WordPress Dashboard, you have come to the right place. Below, we are going to go through all the basic options found within your dashboard and how they work.
Note: This tutorial is for those using the self-hosted version of WordPress. If you don’t know the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, read our post about it here.
WordPress Dashboard-Logging into WordPress
Before you can access the WordPress Dashboard, you must login. The easiest way to access the login page is through the email generated and sent to you with your login information. If you don’t have this email, you can add “/wp-admin” to the end of your domain name to access the login page.
Just enter your username and password to login. If you forget your password, you can use the link below the login box to retrieve it.
The Basic WordPress Dashboard Elements
Once you have logged in, you will have a black sidebar on the left-hand side of your screen. This sidebar contains all your basic elements. It will look like this:
When you add specific plugins, they may create a new tab within this sidebar. However, for now, we will just go through each of these basic elements.
The dashboard tab provides two basic options: home and updates. Anytime you want to go back to your home page within the WordPress Dashboard, you can click the “home” option here. The “Updates” option will hold all of your necessary updates for plugins, themes and for any new versions of WordPress.
If you need to update a theme, plugin or install a new version of WordPress, a little red circle will appear with a number in it next to the “Updates” option.
The next tab is one you will probably use quite a bit. The Posts Tab provides four options: All Posts, Add New, Categories and Tags. This is the section you will use when you want to add a blog post, edit a recent blog post, add/delete category or add/delete tags.
The “All Posts” option will give you a list of all your current posts. If your site is new, you will just have one post called “Hello World!” This post can be deleted or edited, if you prefer.
Above your list of posts, you will see an “Add New” option, which allows you to add a new post to your blog. This option is also found under “Posts” in the sidebar.
If you click on the “Categories” option, you will be able to add/edit/delete your current categories. All new WordPress sites come with the “uncategorized” category. You should change this to a different name, as it will be your default, catch-all category if you forget to select a category when creating a new blog post.
The final option under the Posts Tab is called Tags. This option will allow you to add new tags, which you can also do within the post edit screen when you add a new blog post. You can also edit your tags or delete them from this page.
You may not use the “Tags” option much, as most bloggers just add their tags for each post in the post edit screen.
The Media Tab is where you will store all your images, audio files and videos. There are two options under this tab: Library and Add New.
The “Library” option will contain all of your images, videos and audio files, whether you add them within a post, page or through the “Media>>Add New” option.
The “Add New” option allows you to upload a new media file to your website.
You can also add new media within the post and page edit screens without needing to add it here.
The Pages Tab allows you to add a new page to your WordPress website. This tab has two options: All Pages and Add New.
The “All Pages” option allows you to view every page on your site and gives you the options to edit and delete them.
Just like with the Posts Tab, the “Add New” under the Pages Tab allows you to add a new page. This option is also found within the “All Pages” option above the existing pages.
It’s important to understand the difference between pages and posts in WordPress so that you will be using the right section for each type of content.
The Comments Tab doesn’t have any additional options under it. However, you will have options across the top of the pages for: All, Pending, Approved, Spam and Trash.
These options will allow you to do everything you need to do with comments left on posts and pages on your WordPress website. You can find out even more about the comments tab in WordPress by checking out our page, Understanding he Comments Tab in the WordPress Dash board.
The Appearance Tab allows you to work within your theme, header and widgets. This is an area you will use the most when you are designing your site. Options found under this tab include: Themes, Customize, Widgets, Menus, Header, Background and Editor.
Sometimes, plugins will add a new option to the Appearance tab, as well. For example, if you use the Email Templates plugin to edit the default email template in WordPress, the page for this plugin will be added to the Appearance tab.
The “Themes” option will come with three default themes and will allow you to upload a new theme, if you prefer. Find out more about the Themes Section by reading our tutorial called, Working with WordPress Themes in the WordPress Dashboard.
The “Customize” option will take you into the WordPress customizer, which allows you to adjust many options within your theme. This is one of the most popular sections for designing your website.
The “Widgets” option will allow you to add, edit, delete and move widgets around within your sidebar or any other widget-ready section on your website. Often, you will find new widgets in this area when you add new plugins to your website that come with a widget. If you want to learn more about working within the Widgets section of WordPress, read our tutorial, Working with Widgets in the WordPress Dash board.
The “Menus” option provides a place to create custom menus. You can customize the menu found at the top of your page or create a custom menu to use within the sidebar area of your website.
The “Header” option will take you back to the WordPress customizer and will allow you to add a custom image for your header.
When you go to the “Background” option, it will also take you to the WordPress customizer and allow you to change the image used for your website background.
The “Editor” option is one beginners need to be very careful with. This option will contain the files for your themes, plugins and the rest of your site. You don’t want to start editing these files unless you understand how the code works. If you do edit the files, always copy and paste a backup of the original and save it onto your computer before you make any changes.
There are many things you can customize from this area, as you become more advanced with WordPress and coding.
The Plugin Tab provides you with the ability to add new plugins, activate, deactivate and delete your plugins. This tab has three options: Installed Plugins, Add New and Editor.
The “Installed Plugins” option provides you with a list of all the installed plugins on your site, even if they are inactive.
The “Add New” option under the Plugins tab will give you the ability to search for new plugins or upload a new plugin from your computer.
The “Editor” option under the Plugins tab is just like the “Editor” option under the Appearance tab, but it’s for your plugins. If you are a beginner to WordPress, you will want to be very careful in this section or avoid it completely. This section will allow you to edit the code of your plugins.
The Users tab provides you with a place to add/edit/delete any of your users, along with your own profile. This tab has three options: All Users, Add New and Your Profile.
The “All Users” option provides a list of all your users and the ability to edit them as you wish.
Of course, the “Add New” option allows you to add a new user to your WordPress website. You can define their role here, as well.
The “Your Profile” option gives you the ability to actually edit your profile on your site. You can change the color scheme, username, add your name and many other options here. Some plugins will add new sections to this part of your WordPress Dashboard, as well. Find out more about the Your Profile section by reading our tutorial called, Understanding the Your Profile Section in the WordPress Dashboard.
The Tools Tab provides you with the ability to use some of the tools that come with WordPress. Some plugins will add options here, as well. If you use a backup plugin, you will most likely access it from the Tools Tab.
This tab provides three options: Available Tools, Import and Export. The “Available Tools” option provides a list of all the tools you currently have on your WordPress website.
Within the “Import” option, you will get all kinds of options for importing posts or comments from another system. This is the section you will use if you are moving your blog from another platform to WordPress.
The “Export” option is the opposite of the “Import” option. You can export your post, pages or all your content to a file as a backup or to move it to another domain or website.
The last tab found within the basic WordPress Dashboard is the Settings tab. When you add plugins, you will find the options for accessing many of them under the Settings tab or as a new tab added to your dashboard below the Settings tab.
This tab has six options including: General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media and Permalinks. The “General” Option allows you to edit the general information for your website.
The “Writing” option allows you to change your default post category, default post format, set up posts via email and update your services for automatic notifications.
The “Reading” option allows you to choose what you would like for your front page, how many blog posts to show on the blog page and how to display them. This is also the area where you can keep the search engines from spidering your site while you are designing it.
Within the “Discussion” option, you can change all the different settings for your comments. This allows you to block commenters or make them become a member of your site to comment and much more.
The “Media” option allows you to set default sizes for the images when they are uploaded.
The “Permalinks” option gives you the ability to change the structure of your URL. Most will choose the “Post Name” option for best SEO.
Now you have an excellent guide to help you understand every section of the WordPress Dashboard. You can bookmark this page for reference and whenever you have a question come back and find the section you are working within for the answer.