Using WordPress Gravatars

Learn about WordPress Gravatars … what they are, how they work, and how to set up Gravatars in WordPress …

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Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site

No doubt, you’re familiar with avatars.

An avatar is an icon, or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality such as a forum, chat, website, or any other form of online community where the user(s) wish to distinguish themselves from other users.

(Source: WordPress Codex)

Using profile images has now become standard across the web on social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and loads of web properties …

Avatars are now used across all user sites on the web

(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you regularly visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress also displays user avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …

Using WordPress Gravatars

You may be wondering why some users get to display their photos next to blog posts and discussions and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your avatar appeared all greyed out …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

In this tutorial you are going to learn what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.

Gravatars – What Are They?

WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar

A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used with WordPress

(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar for use with WordPress)

Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars allow you to have one avatar across the entire web. Avatars are usually an image that the user will create themselves. Unlike standard avatars, Gravatars follow you around the web and automatically appear whenever you post a comment on a WordPress site. was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind As a result, Gravatars are now integrated into WordPress and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also supported by many web technology platforms.

How Do Gravatars Work?

Once your Gravatar account has been created, the service matches your profile information to your account email and displays your custom gravatar image next to your comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

If a site does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default avatar set by the WP site administrator will be associated with their comments (we explain this further below).

Default icon set by site administrator

(Default icon set by site administrator)

Typically, the default avatar most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …

Mystery Man Avatar

(Mystery Man Avatar)

If you don’t want your entries to display with a default icon, then set up a gravatar.

Benefits Of Using A Gravatar

A Gravatar is essentially the same thing as an avatar, but the images are hosted on a single server and are called up by encrypting the users’ email address using a special algorithm.

Instead of creating different avatars for every new site you belong to, you could display the same avatar on all of the sites that you visit.

Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:

Benefits for Site Administrators

  • Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
  • Gravatars require no additional plugins.
  • Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or their images, to allow blog commenters to use Gravatars on your site.

Benefits For WordPress Users

  • Having a Gravatar account saves you creating an avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
  • Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from a central location.

The tutorial below shows you how to set up and use a WordPress Gravatar.

How To Add Gravatars To Your WordPress Site – Step-By-Step Tutorial

To use Gravatars, first create an account here (it’s FREE):



Sign in with your account details …

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

If you don’t have a account, you can sign up for one on the site …

Using WordPress Gravatars

Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to set up your profile, and choose the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.

Upload your Gravatar image …

Upload your Gravatar image

(Gravatar offers several image uploading options)

Add your photo, then crop and save it …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar …

Gravatar image ratings

(Gravatar ratings)

You can access and edit your own account anytime …

Using WordPress Gravatars

You can further edit your profile by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief description about yourself …

Using WordPress Gravatars

Once you have finished editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will follow you around the web.

It will be displayed in blog comments, web forums, etc …

Using WordPress Gravatars

Your Gravatar will also appear inside your own dashboard, in your user account …

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

And whenever you log back into your site …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

How To Manage Gravatars On Your WordPress Site

Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:

  • Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
  • Avatar ratings filter.

To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion area …

Discussion Settings Menu

(WordPress Discussion Settings)

Scroll down to the Avatars section …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

You will be presented with several options:

  1. Avatar Display: Here you can toggle Gravatars on and off.
  2. Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to give their Gravatar a rating (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on its appropriateness. This section lets you select the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
  3. Default Avatar: WordPress lets you select what type of image you would like to display when users do not have a Gravatar. Selecting one of the generated icons gives users a default avatar. Generated icons link the email of the commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that person posts on your site, the same image will display next to their name.

Remember to save your changes when done …

Save WordPress Changes

WordPress Gravatars – Additional Tips

By default, Gravatars display at a fixed size. To customize the default WordPress Gravatar size, you would need to edit code in your template files.

Also, several WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by searching for the keyword “gravatar” …

Search for gravatar-related plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard

(Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)

For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your WordPress blog using a plugin called Jetpack.

Gravatar Hovercards

A Gravatar Hovercard allows your profile to be made visible to others and makes it easier for people to find your blog or access your identity on services like Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.

Gravatar Hovercards are typically a feature of (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted website or blog, however, if you install a powerful, feature-rich plugin called Jetpack

Jetpack WordPress Plugin - Gravatar Hovercards

(Jetpack Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)

After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. This allows you to enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …

WordPress Discussion Settings - Gravatar Hovercards

(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)

If you activate this feature, then whenever visitors hover over your Gravatar …

Hover the mouse over a Gravatar to display a Gravatar Hovercard

(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)

Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, allowing people to learn more about you …

Gravatar Hovercards

(Gravatar Hovercard)

Add A Custom Gravatar To WordPress

You can replace the default user gravatar on your site for users that don’t have a gravatar set up. To learn how to add a custom gravatar to WordPress, see the tutorial below:

Hopefully this tutorial has helped you learn what Gravatars are and how to set them up in WordPress.

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site

Gravatar logo source: Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.


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Originally published as Using WordPress Gravatars.