Using WordPress Gravatars

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

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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)

The use of profile images has now become the standard across the web on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of other places …

Avatars are used all over the web

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

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you read other WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays avatars (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

You may have wondered why many blog posts and comments show pics or images in some blog entries and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your image appeared greyed out …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

In this tutorial you will learn about Gravatars, how they work and how to add avatars in WordPress.

What’s A Gravatar?

WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar

A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar for use in WordPress

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

Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars allow web users to have one avatar used 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.

Gravatar was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. 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 on many technology platforms.

How Does A Gravatar Work?

Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email address in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …

Using WordPress Gravatars

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

Default icon set by WP site administrator

(Default avatar set by site admin)

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 be associated with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a gravatar.

Why Use A Gravatar

A Gravatar is basically the same thing as an avatar, but gravatars 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 register an account with, you could have the same avatar display on all of the web properties that you visit.

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

Site Administrator Benefits

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

WP User Benefits

  • Users don’t need to register on every site they visit just to use a Gravatar.
  • Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.

Complete the tutorial below to learn how to set up and use a Gravatar.

How To Add Gravatars To Your Site – Tutorial

To start using Gravatars, first first you will need to create an account (it’s FREE):



Log in with your account details …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site

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)

After uploading your image, crop and save it …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …

Gravatar ratings

(Gravatar image ratings)

You can access and change your own account anytime …

Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site

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

Using Gravatars In WordPress

Once you are done editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will begin following you around the web.

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

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

Using WordPress Gravatars

And whenever you log back into your site …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress

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

  • Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
  • Which rating of Avatars are displayed.

To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP admin area and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …

WordPress Discussion Settings Menu

(WordPress Discussion Settings Menu)

Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …

Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site

The Avatars section presents you with the following options:

  1. Avatar Display: This section lets you toggle Gravatars on and off.
  2. Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to rate their image (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on its appropriateness. Here you can choose 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 account. Selecting one of the generated icons gives users a default avatar without requiring them to have their own Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the user 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 finished …

Save WordPress Changes

WordPress Gravatars – Additional Tips

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

Also, various WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by typing in gravatar inside the plugin search field …

Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard

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

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

Gravatar Hovercards

Gravatar Hovercards allow 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 Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.

Gravatar Hovercards are typically a feature of (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to a self-hosted site, however, by installing a versatile, feature-rich (and free) WordPress plugin called Jetpack

Jetpack by - Gravatar Hovercards

(Jetpack by – Gravatar Hovercards)

After Jetpack is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will appear on your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This lets you display visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar with their mouse …

WordPress Discussion Settings Screen - Gravatar Hovercards

(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)

If this feature has been activated, then if visitors hover over your Gravatar …

Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards

(Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display a Gravatar Hovercard)

Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, giving people an opportunity to visit your profile and learn more about you …

Gravatar Hovercard

(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 about Gravatars and how to use them in WordPress.

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

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.