WordPress block editor

The WordPress block editor also called the block editor, WordPress editor or Gutenberg editor is the new way of publishing content in WordPress.

Following the launch of WordPress 5.0 in December 2018, the WordPress block editor was set as the default editor and replaced the classic editor. To use the classic editor, you will need to install the classic editor plugin.

The WordPress block editor offers an array of blocks that can be used to create media-rich pages and posts.

Blocks are the content elements that you add to create content layouts. You can add blocks for paragraphs, images, headings, lists, videos, galleries, and more. You can control the layout of the blocks with ease, to build visually appealing web pages.

WordPress has blocks for all common content elements, and more can be added through WordPress plugins.

The block editor’s workspace

To launch the WordPress block editor, click on Posts > Add New or Pages > Add New.

Launch the WordPress block editor by choosing 'Add new' next to 'posts'
How to launch the WordPress block editor

The block editor opens by default in fullscreen mode.

WordPress Block Editor in full-screen mode
WordPress Block Editor in full-screen mode

The WordPress block editor workspace has three main sections:

  • the top toolbar
  • the sidebar with the post/page settings and the block settings
  • the content area.

The top toolbar

Top toolbar showing available icons in post edit screen
Top toolbar icon

At the top left of the block editor workspace, you will see the following options:

WordPress logo

Exit the Editor: Shows the W icon by default, or the Site Icon if available. Click to exit the editor. This will prompt you to save the changes or leave the post or page.

Button with plus icon

Block Inserter: Add blocks or patterns to your post or page.

Block inserter panel with its own search box and suggested blocks
Block inserter panel
The edit/pencil icon.

Tools: Switch between editing a block and selecting a block. Choose the Select tool (or press the Escape key on your keyboard) to select individual blocks. Once a block is selected, press the Enter key on your keyboard to return to editing.

Edit/select buttons in the WordPress block editor workspace
Edit/Select buttons
Arrow icons pointing to the left and right, to represent undo and redo.

Undo and Redo: Undo an action, or redo an undone action.

A lowercase I with a circle around it for an information icon, to show Details.

Details: Get the post/page details including the character and word count, estimated time to read, the number of paragraphs and blocks on the post/page, and the document outline showing the headings and how they are structured on the post/page.

The i icon next to redo icon shows document details in the WordPress block editor workspace including characters, word counts, and headings
Document details
Three offset stacked vertical lines, to represent the List View.

List View: See a list of all of the blocks that are on the post/page and easily navigate between the blocks on your post/page. Read more about List View tool.

Before you publish your post or page, you will see the following options in the top right corner of the block editor’s workspace.

Top right side of post edit screen shows a link to save draft, a device icon for preview feature of the post, a publish button and a sidebar icon.
Tools top right in post edit screen

Save draft: Save a draft of your post or page without publishing it.
Preview: View how your post/page looks on your site by using the device icon next to save draft link.

Top right side of post edit screen shows a device icon for preview feature of the post and options for selecting device to preview the post in.
Select device for previewing the post

Publish: Make your post/page available publicly.

After you publish your post or page, you will see the following options in the top right corner of the block editor’s workspace.

After post is published, the publish button is replaced with an update button and a link to view post appears in between update button and device icon.
Tools on post edit screen after publishing

1. Preview: View how your post/page looks on different devices, including desktop, tablet and mobile.
2. View Post: Opens a new tab where you can see how your post/page looks on the frontend.
3. Update: Save the changes to your post/page. The “save draft” button is hidden once the post is published.
4. Settings: Show or hide the post/page sidebar settings and the block settings.
5. Options: Open up more options.

Switch to draft: In the right sidebar, there is a button named “switch to draft” that allows you to switch the post to draft mode. The button shows busy status.

Once clicked on "switch to draft" button in the sidebar, the "updated" button becomes "updating" and shows busy mode.
Update button switched to Busy mode as it switches to draft
Once attempted to publish, the same busy mode is shown while publishing.
From draft to publishing

Details on how to use the view feature.

Sidebar icon on the top right area of the edit screen is used to open the sidebar.

Settings: Show or hide the post/page sidebar settings and the block settings.

Three vertical dots icon, which you can click to show more options.

Options: Open up more options.

More options

To access more options, click the three dots to the right of the Settings ‘cog’ icon in the upper right corner. Here, you can customize your editing experience using various options.

The three dot shows the menu items listed under more options.
Three dot shows the menu items for more options


Top toolbar: Display or hide the top toolbar in the editor. When you enable this option, block toolbars are pinned to the top of the WordPress block editor (right under the top toolbar) instead of appearing directly above the block.

Top toolbar enabled
The image block toolbar in a top toolbar

Spotlight mode: With spotlight mode, all blocks are greyed out except for the one you’re working on so that you can focus on a single block at a time.

Spotlight mode enables you to focus on just one block
Spotlight mode

Distraction free mode: When enabled, this mode allows you to focus just on your words by adjusting various pieces of the interface, including closing any open sidebars, removing various block inserter options, and the block toolbar. Read more here.


By default, you will be in the Visual editor. Switch to the Code editor to view the entire post or page in the HTML code editor.


Here, you can manage patterns, learn keyboard shortcuts, visit the WordPress block editor welcome guide, copy all content on the post/page, or view additional support articles.


Use the Preferences menu to:

  • Customize the editing experience.
  • Change how you interact with blocks and which blocks appear when searching for a block.
  • Show or hide individual panels from the post/page settings.

How to switch-off fullscreen mode?

Fullscreen mode can be enabled from the three dot menu items i.e more options.
Fullscreen mode from the three dot menu i.e more options

To switch-off fullscreen mode, use the three-dot menu on the top right and un-check the fullscreen mode.

Your choice will be stored in your browser’s local storage. If you switch browsers, the choice for the view will not be remembered and you have to set your preference again. This will be the case when you switch computers too.

Safari browser users will experience a reset of default settings once in a while as it is programmed to delete local storage entries every now and then.

Until the core team find the best solution, you can use the Persistent block editor settings plugin. This plugin stores the fullscreen mode preference in the database. Hence your fullscreen mode choice stays consistent across browsers and devices.

How to work in the WordPress block editor

How to use the WordPress block editor

You can easily select multiple blocks by doing a partial multi selection of blocks as shown in the video below:

Video showing partial multi selection of blocks

You can select multiple blocks by holding shift+click as show in the video below:

Selecting multiple blocks using shift+click

You can select all blocks by pressing Cmd+A or Control+A as shown in the video below

Selecting multiple blocks using cmd + A or control + A

When you select some text and press the back tick (`), it will turn the selected text inline code as show in the video below:

Video showing how to easily create an inline code

Uploading media from openverse category also uploads the item in media library.

Uploading media item from openverse category uploads to the media library as well

Change Log

  • Updated on 2023-11-11
    • Updated screenshots for 6.4
  • Updated on 2023-11-08
    • Headings changed to sentence case
  • Updated on 2023-09-26
    •  Improve “switch to draft” placement 50217
    • Added a pair of new screenshots to add “Apply busy status to the publish button in progress and unify button width 48444
    • Added a new video to add “[Inserter – Media tab]: Upload Openverse images when inserted 48501
  • Updated on 2023-08-
    • Add component 50260
    • Display device icon on “preview” and “view” buttons 50218
    • Distraction Free Mode: Don’t show the metaboxes 48947
    • Updates the behavior of the top toolbar fixed setting 49634
  • Updated 2023-08-08
    • Replaced “Reusable Blocks” with “Patterns”
  • Updated 2023-06-27
    • Added links to Gutenberg demo website.
  • Updated 2023-04-16
    • Updated screenshot for more options.
    • Added information about Distraction Free mode.
  • Updated 2022-10-24
    • Add screenshot for Time to read.
    • Updated screenshots to show the View button in the top toolbar
    • Content tweaked. FAQ removed.
    • Added new videos to show tips to work with the Editor
  • Update 2022-06-02
    • Text updated for clarity.
  • Update 2022-05-13
    • Updated content/screenshots for 6.0.
    • Rewrote sections for clarity.
    • The blocks section moved to a new page.
  • Update 2022-01-18
    • Added Section: List view
  • Update 2020-08-17
    • Added Section: New to WordPress 5.5
    • Added link to Block Directory page.
  • Update 2020-03-29
    • Added section on default Fullscreen mode, introduced in WordPress 5.4
  • Update 2020-03-19
    • Move the “Shortcuts” section above the FAQs
  • Update 2020-03-18
    • Changed occurrences of “new editor” to “block editor”
    • changed occurrences of “old editor” to “Classic editor”
    • Added Anatomy of a Block graphic and explanations
    • Reformatted the FAQ questions to Paragraphs with medium size bolded text instead of Capitalized H5
    • Added link to Classic Block page and Shorcode Block page
    • Changed the link to the Shortcut list to the developer documentation page.

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