The WordPress Dashboard

Learn about the WordPress dashboard and how to navigate your way around inside the WordPress administration area …

The WordPress Dashboard

In this tutorial, you are going to learn how to navigate around the WP admin section and become familiar with the WordPress dashboard, the WordPress admin menu and the main admin areas of your web site.

You will also discover some of the “hidden” features of the WP admin panel that will become more useful to you as your proficiency with WordPress increases.


Important: This tutorial assumes that you or your business already has installed a WordPress website or blog on your domain and that you know how to log into your website or blog.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you’re not sure whether or not your website runs on WordPress, see this tutorial:

To learn more about why you should choose WordPress and the benefits of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section:


Your WordPress Dashboard

After you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login form, you will normally be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is the administration section of your site.

Using The WP Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard

The WP dashboard is where all of your website’s management tasks are carried out.

The Dashboard is divided into several sections that provide you with immediate access to tools and features such as:

  • Important data and information about the activities taking place on your site. It also allows you to see “at-a-glance” metrics and information about recent activity taking place on your site, system updates and notifications, and to be kept up-to-date on the latest news from the WordPress community and various WordPress-related resources, such as notifications and announcements from WordPress product vendors of plugins and themes that you have installed on your site.
  • Management and control of site settings and options.
  • Features that let you change, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, and add, edit and delete content or content sections.

Your WordPress Control Section Explained

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Section

Go through the step-by-step tutorial below, then, to learn more about using your Dashboard and your site’s main admin sections.

Understanding The WP Control Area

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a redesigned look to its Dashboard …

 The WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial


Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for clarity, ease of reading and more choices on styling the look of the backend screens, it also affected much of the existing WordPress documentation around the web, including thousands of tutorials and articles about WordPress online, in print and on video that are now in need of being updated.

With the ability to customize the look and feel of your administration area, expect to see other design changes to back-end features whenever WordPress releases new versions.

If any newer versions of WordPress include changes to any of the functional aspects or features of the software, then rest assured that we will post an update about it on this site.


Important: If your site runs on an older version of WordPress 3.8, then you should upgrade to the latest version immediately, as newer versions of WordPress contain many bug and security fixes.

The WordPress Dashboard

Dashboard Announcements

Depending on whether you or someone else manages your site, you may or may not see the messages below.

The first time you log into a new WordPress site, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside the Dashboard …

The WP Control Screen Explained

If you are new to using your website and want to spend a few minutes learning more about WordPress, you can click on the links in the “Get Started” or “Next Step” sections.

To dismiss the “Welcome” message or prevent it from displaying again the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the message block …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” announcements displayed whenever WordPress gets updated to the latest version …

The WP Administration Section Explained

Once again, feel free to go through the information displayed in the “welcome” message if you want to know more about new features and updates to the software.

To return to the dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on the admin menu …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

Or scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on the link to dismiss the message and go back to your Dashboard …

How To Use Your WP Dashboard

Dashboard Screen Sections

The Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features that you will need to manage the site …

How To Use The WP Control Area

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard is divided into a number of different areas:

  • Header And Toolbar Section (1)
  • Main Navigation Menu (2)
  • Work Area (3)
  • Footer Section (4)

WordPress Dashboard Area: Header Section

Header Area

The header area displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

Using Your WP Administration Section

Different system updates, messages, banners, announcements, warnings and notifications can display in the header, depending on what area you are working on, what action has been performed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

The WP Dashboard Explained

Screen Options Tab

The Screen Options feature is found in the top-right corner of your WordPress dashboard screen, in the header area …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Clicking on this tab displays different options and features on your screen, depending on which area of the administration backend you are currently viewing …

Understanding The WP Administration Area

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you configure options such as which panels of your Dashboard work area you want to view or keep hidden …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you entirely different options, such as displaying or hiding information in the listings section (e.g. tags, comments, etc…), specifying the number of posts to display on your Posts area, and other configurable options depending on the plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

Using The WordPress Dashboard


Tip: Some developers or designers may choose to hide elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may assume that most users probably won’t be needing to access these features, or simply to give parts of your site a less “cluttered” look, or to prevent accidental errors from happening.

If you are looking for a specific feature or element in your administration area and can’t find it, or don’t know where to look for it, just try clicking on the Screen Options tab … you may just find what you are looking for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Section

You can access the official WordPress documentation and user help forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located at the top of your screen …

How To Navigate Around The WP Control Screen

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays information that is relevant to the specific section that you are currently in.

For example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information relevant to editing posts …

Your WP Control Panel Explained


Tip: To learn more about any particular area of WordPress whilst logged into the admin area, just click on the Help tab.

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

The WordPress Toolbar is located at the very top of your Administration screen and provides you and your logged in site users with access to various important administrative functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Most Toolbar items can flyout to display additional information when you hover over the icons with your mouse …

Your WordPress Control Screen Explained

For example, you can quickly see what needs to be updated on your site …

An Overview Of The WordPress Dashboard

You can also view how many comments are awaiting moderation, create new posts or pages, insert new media and links into your content, add new users to your site and much more …

 Your WP Administration Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

The admin toolbar also allows you to view how any updates made to your posts, pages or settings will affect what visitors see on your site. Just hover your mouse over the website title displayed in the toolbar and click on Visit Site.

Tip: To keep working on your site and also see your home page, right-click on the Visit Site link and choose either “Open Link In New Tab”, or “Open Link In New Window” in your web browser to view your site in a different window …

Understanding Your WordPress Dashboard

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the WordPress toolbar will continue displaying on your browser while you’re viewing the “front end” of your site.

This is great, because it lets you easily return to your backend section and continue working on your pages without having to log back in …

Your WP Admin Panel Explained

As you add new functionality to your website, you may notice that additional items begin to show up on your toolbar …

Your WordPress Admin Area Explained


Important: If you are logged in and the Toolbar is not showing when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar is enabled on your site.

An Overview Of Your WordPress Control Area

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

On the far right-hand side in your administration area is the “Howdy, User” section with your Gravatar image.

Hover over this area with your mouse and it displays your name and username, with links pointing to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Admin Page

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

Click on the “Howdy, Your UserName” tab at the very top right hand corner of your screen and choose Edit My Profile

Your WordPress Administration Panel Explained

Make sure the “Show Toolbar when viewing site box is ticked in the Toolbar subsection of your Profile area …

 The WordPress Control Area - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button before leaving this section to save your changes …

 The WordPress Administration Section - A Tutorial

Now, you should be able to see the WordPress Toolbar displayed at the top of your screen when you visit your site …

How To Use Your WordPress Control Page

WordPress Admin Section: Navigation Menu

On the left side of the administration screen is the main navigation menu linking to all the administrative features of your website …

The WP Control Area Explained

Your WordPress Admin Menu


Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in will depend on the role and capabilities assigned to them and how the site administrator has configured settings and options for different features.

In order to access all of the WordPress admin section functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 Your WordPress Administration Section - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

User Roles give users different capabilities and can limit access to management features

Users assigned roles other than that of an administrator (e.g. “Subscriber”, ”Editor”, etc.) get access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

Your WordPress Control Section Explained

Different Roles Get Access To Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WP Dashboard

Irrespective of the role assigned to a user, some menu items like “Collapse menu” remain accessible to all.

Click the Collapse menu button at the bottom of the navigation menu bar …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

And the admin menu shrinks into a narrow column with only a list of icons showing …

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Dashboard

This is a useful feature to create more space in your admin working area.

If you are not sure what the icons mean, just click on the bottom icon to expand all menu items, or hover over the icon to display its submenus …

An Overview Of Your WP Admin Screen

If you hover your mouse over a menu item, a submenu will fly out …

Using Your WP Control Area

To add sub-menus to the main menu column while you’re working, click on a menu item …

Your WordPress Control Area Explained


We plan to provide helpful tutorials about using menu features and functions in future blog posts.

WP Admin Area: Working Area

The large area in the middle of your admin screen is the working area. This is where you will have access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, modify and delete posts, pages and content associated with these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, change site settings, and so on.

When you log into your site, the Dashboard will display a number of  blocks with information about various activities taking place on your site, and updates and content feeds from several WordPress-related sources …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Occasionally, you may even find that new panels have been added to your WordPress dashboard.

For example, in version 4.8, WordPress added a new dashboard panel that displays nearby WordCamps and local WordPress Meetups in your area …

WordPress Events and News

(WordPress Events and News)

You can learn more about it here: WordPress 4.8

As your site grows with content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more users begin to interact with your site, you might find your working area starting to get really busy …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” the admin area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your your information blocks.

For a quick and easy tutorial on ways to customize your WordPress Dashboard, go here:

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer section is found at the bottom of your WP Administration screen and displays links to WordPress and your current WordPress version …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

As you can see, knowing how to use your WP control section is the key to successfully managing your web presence.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard


"Learning WordPress has been a huge stumbling block for me. I've been looking for something that covers absolutely everything but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you so much ... you have just provided me with what I have been looking for! Truly appreciated!" - Tanya

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the owner of and the author of The WordPress User Manual. provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.