WordPress itself is very comfortable to use. It offers plenty of functions and features that make running a website or blog as easy as possible.
In addition, when you update to the latest WordPress version it adds new stuff to your CMS that makes working with WordPress even better and easier.
Most of us get used to using WordPress in a certain way. We use the same features on a regular basis and overlook or forget about the ones we don’t use. Professional tunnel vision at its best.
When it comes to new features, we often only familiarize ourselves with the most obvious ones, which actively alter our established workflow. Because, let’s be honest, who reads all the release notes anyway?
Apart from that, there are also a bunch of WordPress features, which are somewhat hidden, and therefore overlooked.
For this reason, many lose track of everything WordPress has to offer and thus don’t use it to its full potential. In this article we will go over some lesser-known features of WordPress.
Some of these features are real hidden gems, which can make working with WordPress more comfortable and your workflow more efficient.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #1: The Full-Screen Writing Mode
Producing stellar content (as I’m sure you are doing) is a tall order in itself. Being constantly distracted can make it even more difficult. If you find yourself struggling to stay focused on your latest blog post, the full-screen writing mode might be just the thing for you.
While every WordPress user is familiar with the editor, not everyone knows that you can switch it to display in a distraction-free working environment. No dashboard, and no thinking about categories, tags, or the wide array of formatting options.
Even the minimal tool bar you is optional and only appears when you hover over it with your cursor. Once you start writing, it will fade to the background, leaving only your words. Is that zen or what?
Where to find the full-screen mode:
To enter full screen, click the button in the top-right corner of the WordPress editor you see below.
To return to the familiar writing environment, move the mouse to the top of the screen and click on “exit fullscreen.”
Little-Known WordPress Feature #2: Screen Options
Most WordPress users know how to modify the look and feel of your website’s front-end through themes and styling. At the same time, however, most take the way their backend looks entirely for granted. They have no idea that it can be customized to fit their individual needs and working styles.
However, that’s exactly what WordPress’s screen options are for. This features gives you complete control over what does and does not appear on almost every screen of the dashboard.
Don’t care for the WordPress news on the welcome screen? Gone. Don’t use tags for your blog posts? You never have to see that option again. Want to change the number of posts displayed in the posts menu? Go right ahead.
Where to find the screen options:
The screen options can be accessed in the upper right corner of the dashboard.
Clicking on them shows you all the available options for the screen you are currently on, which can simply be toggled on or off. Combined with the ability to move around, and close and open every panel, you have the power to customize every screen to your liking.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #3: Making Posts Sticky
The ability to create sticky posts is another feature of WordPress that is easily overlooked, most of all because it’s hidden. In case you don’t know what sticky posts are, they are articles that stick to the top of your blog even if new posts are published.
That way the sticky post will be the first thing every visitor sees when coming to your blog page. It’s perfect to showcase your most important content or display time-sensitive items such as event announcements or competitions.
How to make posts sticky:
You find the option for sticky posts in the publishing panel within the post editor.
Under visibility if you click on edit you will find a check box that says stick this post to the front page. After hitting ok, the post will then be marked as sticky and pinned to the top of your posts when published. You can do the same for older posts.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #4: Post Scheduling
Running or administering a website can feel like a job that never ends and requires you to always be available. Especially during holiday season or while traveling, it can be quite unnerving having to make sure you have internet access so you can keep up with your posting schedule.
In these moments, wouldn’t it be great if you could create all content in advance and have your website publish it automatically at the right time without you having to lift a finger? Like a “set it and forget it” kind of arrangement.
Luckily with WordPress you can do exactly that. Instead of publishing new articles immediately or logging into your site at the correct time to push them out manually, you can schedule each article’s publication with minute precision.
How to schedule your posts:
Post scheduling is, unsurprisingly, part of the publishing panel. Click edit where it says Publish immediately to open the date and time options. Adjust the month, day, year, hour, and minute you want your article to go out to the world. When you hit ok, you will see that the publish button changes to schedule. Click it and you’re all set.
(Extra tip: You can also use this feature to backdate your content. This is useful in case you are importing older work and want to make sure everything remains in the right order.)
Little-Known WordPress Feature #5: Content Visibility
WordPress allows you to control who can or cannot view your posts and pages on an individual basis. Content visibility can be set to three different levels: public, password protected, and private.
Public is the default option and means your content is visible to anyone. Content protected with a password can only be viewed by those who know it.
Private content is meant to be seen only by those with authorization. Its access is limited to logged-in users on the level of editor or administrator who have been given permission.
How to control content visibility:
The different levels of visibility can be set in the same place where you can make posts sticky. A click on edit behind visibility opens its options. If you choose to protect your post, it gives you an extra field where you can define the password. Choose private for even less visibility. A click on ok confirms your choice.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #6: Page Break
Brevity is not your strong suit? You regularly churn out blog posts of several thousand words? Hey, I get it, some topics just need and deserve their space. However, it is not always the most reader-friendly way to display content.
For the more verbose amongst us and to spare your readers from having to scroll down for several minutes, there is page break. It is a way of dividing your posts into multiple pages instead of showing everything in one place.
The page break function allows you to manually define where your content sak. At that point, WordPress will display a small navigation menu to access the next part. Very useful and very easy to implement.
How to insert a page break:
To introduce a page break in your post, all you have to do is insert this handy shortcode:
Add it to the appropriate place, and make sure you insert it into the text editor instead of the visual editor.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #7: The Read-More Tag
Many themes automatically display a set number of characters from the beginning of every post as a preview with a read more link to the rest of the article. Automation makes sense for convenience sake, however, it’s not always the most elegant solution.
Thankfully WordPress also allows you to manually divide your content at the click of a button. With a simple tag, you can insert the link exactly where you want it and where it makes sense. Everything in front of it will be displayed as the post’s preview on your blog page.
How to insert a “Read More” link:
Use the Insert Read More tag button in the WordPress editor. Place your cursor where you want the article to break and click it. A line will appear signifying the break point.
If you go to the text editor, you will see that the post break is introduced via this shortcode:
If you want, you can even customize the link text like so:
<!–more But wait, there’s more! –>
With this modification, the link will show up with the text you have defined in the code.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #8: Emptying the Trash Automatically
WordPress can be set to regularly empty the trash bin and permanently delete posts, pages, attachments, and comments contained therein—without you having to do it yourself. Not only that, but you can also determine the time interval for this house-clearing measure.
This feature is especially handy for those who are administering several sites and to make sure that the trash can of your clients’ websites don’t flow over.
How to set up automatic trash-cleaning:
To set emptying the trash to autopilot, you need to add this piece of code to your wp-config.php file:
define( 'EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS', 30 );
The number obviously defines the number of days your content is kept in the trash bin before deletion. If you set the number to 0, trash will be disabled completely and everything you delete will be gone permanently, right away.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #9: Changing the Autosave Interval
Have you ever worked on a post within WordPress only to lose half of it when your internet connection failed? There’s nothing more frustrating than having to redo the same work you already thought finished.
If so, then this next feature is for you. A simple tweak allows you to adjust how often WordPress will automatically save your work. This will reduce the amount of content you can potentially lose in the event your internet connection decides to let you down.
How to change your autosave settings:
Adjusting the save intervals is again done by modifying wp-config.php. Add the following code to the file and adjust the number of seconds between autosaves to your liking:
define( 'AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 160 );
Little-Known WordPress Feature #9: Directly Paste Media Links and Tweets!
Inserting media from different sources is a great way to spice up your content. YouTube videos, Instagram photos, songs from SoundCloud, you name it. Unfortunately clicking through YouTube’s embed function, choosing the right video size, and then inserting the iframe into your post can be a real hassle.
Luckily it turns out there is absolutely no need for that. WordPress can recognize links from many different sources and embeds them automatically. All you need is the web address.
How to embed media the easy way:
Copy the web address of any video you want to show on your blog right into your post or page. Make sure the url is clean, on its own line, and not hyperlinked (meaning not clickable). To achieve the latter, it might be a good idea to copy it into the text editor and not the visual editor.
This not only works with media files but you can also showcase tweets in your blog posts. For that, click on the timestamp of any tweet to get to its individual page. Copy the url from your address bar and paste it in your content just like a YouTube link.
For a list of other services ready for auto-embedding click here.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #10: Changing the Default Media Size
If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, you will have noticed that it saves all uploaded media in several versions of different sizes. This is to reduce page loading time since that way the website does not have to use the large original of an image that only appears in thumbnail size.
However, depending on your theme, the WordPress standard sizes might not have the right format and you might find yourself constantly adjusting image sizes. Luckily, you can customize the default media size so WordPress will automatically save images in the dimensions you need.
How to adjust media file size:
You find the settings for image size under settings > media. Enter the pixel dimension you need for thumbnails, medium and large images, save changes and you’re done.
Little-Known WordPress Feature #11: Limit Post Revisions
WordPress offers automatic post revisions. That means whenever you hit publish or save a post draft it automatically adds this to the list of revisions. That way if you make a mistake or lose some of your content, you can easily go back to an earlier version.
Unfortunately, if you’re working on a post for a long time and save it often, this can result in a very long list of saved revisions you will never use. Especially if all you also keep around all revisions of older posts, this results in a lot of used space and clutter.
To avoid that, you can limit the number of revisions with a little addition to the wp-config file.
How to reduce the number of post revisions:
Find and open wp-config.php and add this line of code:
define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3 );
Adjust the number to the number of revisions you would like to keep. Setting it to -1 will prompt WordPress to save every revision, 0 will do away with revisions altogether.
Do you know any WordPress features that few people are aware of? Anything you have to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
Nick Schäferhoff is an entrepreneur and writer/blogger from Germany. He learned WordPress when he needed a website for his first business venture and instantly fell in love. He is passionate about health, productivity, and continuous learning, which he writes about on his lifestyle blog. When not building websites, he likes to travel the world, experience other cultures, and learn new languages.