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Manage Blog Plugins & Widgets

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Widgets and plugins are optional features that can be added to your blog. Plugins add functionality to a blog, while widgets provide design elements or supplemental content such as navigation for linking to archived blog posts and pages, adding a Twitter, RSS or media feed.

Plugins and some widgets are developed by third-party developers and are not part of the core WordPress software. If a developer does not maintain a plugin it may become a security vulnerability and will be removed from Blogs at UMass Amherst.

About Using Plugins

Plugins operate in a number of ways:

  • Some plugins such as Google Analytics run the the background as part of your administrative tools. 
  • Once activated, many plugins add a tab to the Main Navigation menu of the Dashboard (at left). Open the menu item to explore how the plugin works.
  • Some plugins work with short codes. Short codes are snippets of code that must be entered on their own line when editing a page or post, for example, here's the shortcode for the first Google map set up on a blog:
             [wpgmza id="1"]
    Enter the short code on it's own line in your page, post or widget, then save and view the page or post to see the plugin in action.
  • Some plugins add a button above the Editor tool bar that lets you insert a shortcode in the Editor window.

To find the developer's support pages for a plugin, on the Plugins page, click View Details for each listed plugin. 

For a full list of plugins see Plugins on Blogs at UMass Amherst.

Activate & Deactivate Plugins

  1. Log in to your blog, and on the Dashboard Main Menu click Plugins (at left). The Plugins screen will open, listing all available plugins. Active plugins are highlighted.
  2. To activate a plugin, click Activate below the plugin name. The screen will refresh with a Plugin activated message (at top). The plugin row in the list will now be highlighted and the link below the plugin will read Deactivate. For some plugins, a Settings link will appear under the plugin name.
  3. If available, click Settings to open a screen of configuration options. Click Save changes to preserve your settings. 
  4. To remove a plugin from use, click Deactivate (below the plugin name). The screen will reload with a Plugin deactivated message at the top of the screen. The link below the plugin name will read Activate.

Configure Plugin Settings

Some plugins (e.g., Google Analytics) must be configured in order to work.

  1. Log in to your blog, and on the Dashboard Main Menu, click Plugins (at left). The Plugins screen will display a list of available plugins.
  2. If available, click Settings  for a plugin (below the plugin name at left). The Settings screen will open.
    Note: Settings links are not available for all plugins and will only appear when a plugin is active.
  3. Settings vary for each plugin. Configure the settings and click Update Options. An "Options Saved" message will appear at the top of the screen. (You may need to click Plugins in the Dashboard Main Menu to return to the Plugins screen.)

Add & Remove Widgets

Note that some widgets rely on plugins which must be activated, and some widgets are only available when using a particular theme.

Important! Widget arrangement is NOT shared between themes; if you change themes, you need to reconfigure your blog's widgets. If you previously configured a widget while using a different theme, it will be saved with Inactive Widgets (more below).

  1. On the Dashboard Main Menu (at left), click Appearance, then Widgets. The Widgets screen will open:
    • Available Widgets  are listed at left (or top on a phone), with a Widget box for each widget you can add to a Widget Area such as a Sidebar.
    • Inactive Widgets are listed below the Available Widgets. These are widgets you have already configured but removed from use. You can return them to a Widget Area without losing the settings.
    • Widget areas panels are shown at right (or, on a phone below the Widgets). There is one for each area provided by your current theme.
      Note: To collapse or expand a panel or widget box, click the Widget name.
  2. To add a widget to your blog:
    1. Click the Widget name (at left). A list of Widget Area locations will appear below the widget name.
    2. In the expanded Widget box, click the Widget Area name (e.g., First Sidebar) where you wish the widget to appear on your site. The name of the selected Widget Area will be highlighted and checked.
    3. Click Add Widget (at bottom of expanded Widget box). The Widget Area you selected (at right, or bottom on a phone) will expand with the widget added.
    (Optionally, if working on a large display, you can drag a Widget from the left column into an expanded Widget Area on the right.)
  3. To configure a widget, click the Widget name in a placed widget. The widget box will expand to show available settings. Configure the settings as needed, then click Save (if available) at the bottom of the widget box for each widget you add.
    Note:  Not all widget boxes have a Save option. No confirmation message will be displayed after saving.

Remove Widgets from Widget Areas

There are two ways to remove a widget from a sidebar:

  • To remove a widget from a Widget Area  and preserve its settings for future use, drag the Widget out of the Widget Area and drop it on the left side of the screen. If settings have been configured, a copy of the widget will be stored under Inactive Widgets and you can reuse it without needing to reconfigure the settings.
  • To remove a widget from a Widget Area without preserving its settings, click the Widget name to expand the Widget box and click Delete.

Re-arrange Widgets

To re-arrange widget placement, on the Dashboard Main Menu, go to Appearance > Widgets, then drag and drop Widgets within or between Widget Areas.

If your theme has more than one Widget Area, you can move a widget from one area to another: Click the Widget Area names to expand both the area you will move a widget from, and the area you will move it into, then drag and drop the Widget to its destination.

Themes with More Than One Widget Area

Many themes have more than one widget area in which case more than one panel appears on the right side of the Widgets screen. Keep the following in mind:

  • Widget Area locations on the Widgets Screen do not necessarily correspond to their location on site pages.
    Depending on the theme used, widget areas may be displayed to the left or right side of the main page content, below the main content across the bottom of the page, or even in the Title area (banner) at the top of the page.

  • Widget Area names depend on themes.
    Depending on your blog's current theme, widget areas that show in the same location on a blog page may be named differently (e.g., Main Sidebar, Right Sidebar, and Right Widget Area might all display in the same location on your website).

  • Some Widget Areas appear only on pages that use a particular Page Template.
    For example, some themes provide Front Page widget area that only show on a blog page that uses a Front Page page template. For more on Page templates, see Blog Pages: Create, Edit, & Manage the Pages on Your Blog.