Using WordPress Gravatars

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

How To Use 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 mainstream on social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of web properties …

Avatars are used across all user sites on the web

(Avatars are used all over the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

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

Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog

You may have wondered why some users get to display their photos or images with their blog posts and comments and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your image displayed as a grey blob …

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.

What’s A Gravatar?

WordPress uses a special kind of avatar called a Gravatar

A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used with WordPress

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

Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars make it possible for a person 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 used by many WordPress users supported by many technologies.

How Does A Gravatar Work?

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

Using Gravatars In WordPress

If a site is not registered with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the site administrator will be associated with their comments (we explain this further below).

Default avatar set by site admin

(Default avatar set by site administrator)

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

Mystery Man Avatar

(Default Avatar)

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

Benefits Of Using Gravatars

A Gravatar is basically 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 register an account with, gravatars allow you to 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 manage.
  • There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
  • Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t have 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 having to upload a new avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
  • Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.

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

How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – Tutorial

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



Log in with your account details …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

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 …

Gravatar offers a number of image uploading options

(Gravatar offers you several image uploading options)

After uploading your image, crop and save it …

Using WordPress Gravatars

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

Rate your Gravatar image

(Rate your Gravatar image)

You can access and manage your own account settings …

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog

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

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

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

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

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

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

Using WordPress Gravatars

And whenever you login …

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

Managing Gravatar Settings

Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate with 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 manage how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion area …

WordPress Discussion Settings

(Discussion Settings)

Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog

You will be presented with a number of options:

  1. Avatar Display: This section lets you toggle Gravatars on and off for your site.
  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 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 same person 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 Gravatars – Useful Info

By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, code editing would be required.

Also, a number of WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by typing in the keyword gravatar inside the plugin search field …

Search for gravatar-enhancing 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 information 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.

A Gravatar Hovercard is typically a feature of (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted WordPress site by installing a powerful, feature-rich WordPress 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 new entry will appear on your Discussion Settings > Avatars screen. This lets you enable the display of people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar with their mouse …

WordPress Discussion Settings Screen - Gravatar Hovercards

(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)

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

Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display Gravatar Hovercards

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

Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, giving people an opportunity to click through to your profile and learn a little 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 article has helped you learn about Gravatars and how to set them up in WordPress.

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.


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. provides hundreds of FREE detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress to grow your business online at minimal cost with no coding skills required!

Originally published as Using WordPress Gravatars.