Using WordPress Gravatars

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

How To 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)

The use of avatars has now become the norm across the web on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and other sites …

Avatars are now 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 avatar images (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog

You may be wondering why some users display their profile photos with their blog posts and blog comments, while other users only show a generic image, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your avatar appeared greyed out …

Using WordPress Gravatars

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

What’s A Gravatar?

WordPress uses a special type of avatar called a Gravatar

A Gravatar is a special type of avatar for use with 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 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 every WordPress site and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also used by a growing number of WordPress users supported on many technologies.

How Do Gravatars Work?

Once your Gravatar account has been configured, the service matches your profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

If a site chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the site administrator will be associated with their entries (this is explained further below).

Default icon set by site admin

(Default avatar set by WP site admin)

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

Default Avatar

(Mystery Man Avatar)

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

Benefits Of Using A Gravatar

A Gravatar is essentially 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 create an account with, gravatars allow you to display the same avatar on all of the web properties that you visit.

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

WP Admin Benefits

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

WordPress User Benefits

  • Having a Gravatar account saves users from having to register an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
  • Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside a central location.

The tutorial below shows you how to set up and use Gravatars.

How To Add Gravatars To Your WordPress Blog – 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 Gravatars In WordPress

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

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog

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

You will be asked to upload an image …

Gravatar offers you various image uploading options

(Gravatar offers you various 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 image ratings

(Rate your Gravatar image)

You can access and manage your own account settings …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site

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 Gravatars In WordPress

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

Using Gravatars In WordPress

And every time you log back into your site …

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress

Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can change some of the 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 in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …

Discussion Settings

(Discussion Settings Menu)

Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

You will be presented with a number of options:

  1. Avatar Display: Select whether to display Gravatars or not.
  2. Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to rate their Gravatar image (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on appropriateness. Here you can 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 a comment on your site, the same image will display next to their name.

Remember to save your changes when done …

Save WordPress Changes

Using Gravatars – Useful Info

By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To change the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.

Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by typing in gravatar inside the plugin search field …

Search for gravatar-related 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 blog using a WordPress 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.

Gravatar Hovercards are a feature of (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted WordPress site by installing a powerful plugin called Jetpack

Jetpack - Gravatar Hovercards

(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)

Once the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a new item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. 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 – Gravatar Hovercards)

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

Hover the mouse over a Gravatar to display Gravatar Hovercards

(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays 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 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 article has helped you learn what a Gravatar is and how to get your picture to display next to your post comments, discussions and more.

Using Gravatars In WordPress

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


"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill,

Originally published as Using WordPress Gravatars.