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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Using WordPress Gravatars

You are probably already 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 web sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and many other sites …

Avatars are now used across all user sites on the web

(Avatars are now used all over the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you read blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays 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 comments and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your image appeared all greyed out …

Using WordPress Gravatars

This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use avatars in WordPress.

Gravatar – What Is It?

WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar

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

(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar used in WordPress)

Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars make it possible for a person to have one avatar used across the 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 WordPress. As a result, Gravatars are now integrated into every WordPress site and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also supported by many technologies.

How Do Gravatars 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 post discussions, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

If a visitor has not set up their Gravatar account, the default icon set by the site admin will be associated with their entries (we explain this further below).

Default icon set by site admin

(Default icon set by site admin)

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

Default Avatar

(Default Avatar)

If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up your own gravatar.

Why Use 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 create 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:

Benefits for Site Administrators

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

WordPress User Benefits

  • Users don’t have to set up an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
  • Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from a central location.

Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn more about setting up and using a Gravatar.

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site – A Step-By-Step Tutorial

To start using Gravatars, you will first need to create an account here:



Log in with your account details …

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you don’t have a account, you can create one on the Gravatar 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

(Upload your Gravatar image)

Add your photo, then crop and save it …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

Gravatar image ratings

(Rate your Gravatar picture)

You can access and edit your own account anytime …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

It will be displayed in your post comments, web forums, etc …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

Your Gravatar will also display inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user profile …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

And whenever you log back into your site …

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

How To Manage Gravatars On Your WordPress Site

Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can change the following settings:

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

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

Discussion Settings

(WordPress Discussion Settings Menu)

Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

The Avatars section provides you with several 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 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 allows you to 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. Generated icons link the email of the post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that commenter posts on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.

Remember to click the Save Changes button when finished to save your new settings …

Save WordPress Changes

Using WordPress Gravatars – Useful Tips

By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To change the default image 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 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 site using a WordPress 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 Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.

A Gravatar Hovercard is normally a feature of (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted WordPress installation, however, if you install the powerful (and free) Jetpack WordPress plugin …

Jetpack WordPress Plugin - Gravatar Hovercards

(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)

After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new item will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This allows you to enable the display of visitor 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 a visitor hovers over your Gravatar …

Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display a Gravatar Hovercard

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

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

Gravatar Hovercards

(Gravatar Hovercards)

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 a Gravatar is and how to use them in WordPress.

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

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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 Using WordPress Gravatars.