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 step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to use the WordPress administration section and master using the WordPress control panel, the WP admin menu and the main admin areas of your web site.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WP admin area that will become more useful to you as you master using WordPress.


Please note: We are assuming that you already have installed a WordPress website on your domain and that you know how to log into your site.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial: How To Access Your WordPress Blog Admin Area

If you don’t know whether or not your website was built using WordPress, see this tutorial: Does My Site Run On WordPress?

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: WordPress - Overview And Benefits


Your WP Dashboard

After logging into your website via the login form, you will typically be presented with the Dashboard, which is your website or blog’s admin section.

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

The Dashboard

Your WordPress dashboard is where all of your website’s admin is run from.

The Dashboard is divided into a number of useful sections that provide you with immediate access to the following:

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your site. It also lets you see “at-a-glance” metrics and reports about recent activity that has taken 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 messages, notification and announcements from WordPress product vendors of plugins and themes that you have installed on your site.
  • Management and control of your site’s settings and options.
  • Features that let you change, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, as well as adding, editing and deleting your content or content sections.

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Page

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Info Panel

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

The WordPress Control Area Explained

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a complete redesign of its Dashboard …

How To Navigate Around The WP Dashboard


Although this new design was mostly cosmetic and and intended to give WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for a better optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and more ways to customize the look of the administration pages, it also affected much of the existing information about WordPress around the web, including thousands of tutorials and articles about WordPress online, in print and on video that are now outdated.

With the ability to customize the look and feel of the WP dashboard, expect to see new improvements to backend features as WordPress releases new versions.

If new versions of WordPress include new software features or functionality, then you can be sure that we will keep you informed about it here.


Important: If your website runs on an older version of WordPress 3.8, then make sure you upgrade to the latest version immediately, as many bug and security fixes are made whenever WordPress releases a new version.


The WP Dashboard

Dashboard Notifications

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 your site powered by WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of your Dashboard …

How To Use Your WP Control Screen

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

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

The WordPress Control Section Explained

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” notices displayed whenever your site gets updated to a new version of WordPress …

Using Your WordPress Control Page

Feel free to go through the information displayed in the “welcome” message if you want to learn about new features and updates to the software.

To go back to your dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on the menu section …

The WordPress Admin Panel Explained

Or scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the link to dismiss the message and return to your main Dashboard …

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Control Page

WP Dashboard Screen Areas

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

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Administration Section

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard is divided into the following sections:

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

WP Admin Area: Header Section

Header Section

The header area displays system updates, messages, warnings and notifications …

Your WordPress Administration Panel Explained

A whole range of system updates, messages, banners, announcements, notifications and warnings can appear on your header, depending on what admin section you are working on, what action has been completed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

Using The WordPress Admin Area

Screen Options Feature

The Screen Options feature is located in the top-right corner of your WordPress administration screen, in the header section …

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

It displays different options and features on your screen, depending on which section of the admin backend you are currently on …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Dashboard

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you specify options like which panels of your Dashboard screen you want to hide or display …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to configure entirely different settings, 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 table, and other configurable settings depending on which plugins you have installed on your website …

 Your WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial


Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to hide elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may assume that most users won’t be using 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 particular feature or information block in your dashboard and can’t seem to 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 were searching for!

WordPress Online Help Documentation

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

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays context-specific information.

So, for example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area of your blog admin, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information and tutorials relevant to editing posts …

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview


Tip: To learn more about any particular function of WordPress while logged into the WP administration area, just click on the Help tab.

WP Administration Area: Toolbar

The Admin Toolbar displays at the very top of your Administration screen and provides you and your logged in site users with access to a number of important administration functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

Most Toolbar items can expand to display additional information by hovering over the icons with your mouse …

An Overview Of The WP Admin Panel

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes are out of date …

How To Navigate Inside The WordPress Administration Panel

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

How To Use The WP Control Page

You can also see what effect any changes you make to your pages or content will have on your site as seen by your site visitors.

Tip: To keep working on your site and also get a “frontend” view of 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 see your site in a separate window …

The WP Control Area Explained

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

This is great, because it allows you to easily return to your dashboard and continue working on your content without having to log back in …

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

As you add new functionality to your site, you may notice that additional items display on your toolbar …

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


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

Understanding The WP Administration Screen

The section below shows you how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

On the far right of the Admin Toolbar is the “Howdy, User” section with your Gravatar image.

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Admin Screen

Enabling Your WP Toolbar

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Make sure that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled inside the Toolbar section of your Profile screen …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button at the bottom of your page to save your changes …

The WordPress Administration Panel Explained

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

Your WP Administration Panel Explained

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the left side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu containing links to all the administrative functions that you can control on your website or blog …

How To Navigate Around Your WP Dashboard

Your WordPress Admin Menu


Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in depends 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 control panel functions and capabilities, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 The WordPress Administration Screen - A Tutorial

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

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress Dashboard

Regardless of the role assigned to a user, some admin menu features like “Collapse menu” remain accessible to all.

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

How To Navigate Around The WP Control Area

And your admin menu will shrink into a narrow column with only a list of icons showing …

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

This is a useful feature if you want more to work in your admin area.

If you are working with the collapsed menu and 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 …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

If you hover over a menu item, a sub-menu will fly out …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

To stick” submenus into the admin menu column while you’re working, click on a menu item …

The WP Administration Screen Explained


We plan to provide helpful tutorials about each of the navigation menu items in future blog posts.

WordPress Admin Area: Main Working Area

The large area in the middle of your admin screen is your main working area. This is where you will have access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, edit and delete posts, pages and content associated with these, add 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, your Dashboard displays a number of  blocks with information about various activities taking place on your site, including news and content feeds from different sources …

An Overview Of Your WP Control Panel

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 you get busier and start adding more content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more users begin to interact online with your website or blog, this area will start looking very busy …

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

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

For a quick and easy tutorial on how to customize your WordPress Dashboard, go here: How To Customize Your WordPress Dashboard Area

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

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

As you can see, knowing how to navigate around your WP dashboard section is the key to successfully managing your website.

The WordPress Dashboard


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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for beginners. provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and grow your business online at minimal cost!

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.