Writing in the WP Admin Classic Editor-A Quick Tour for the Perplexed WordPress.com User

IMPORTANT UPDATE: In mid-March 2021, WordPress.com rolled out unified navigation to combine both the newer “Calypso/WordPress.com” dashboard and WP Admin. Later, in July 2021, a dashboard “Switcher” was introduced to make changing from one dashboard to the other more intuitive with a further refinement to the interface. As a result, in order to continue accessing (for now) the Classic Editor in WP Admin, you must first change to the “Classic View” by selecting it in the View tab that appears in the top right corner of the Posts or Pages dashboard in your browser window. The post below has been updated to reflect this change.

For those of us who joined WordPress.com after November 2015 when the “MySite/Calypso” editor was introduced but still prefer to write in the “original WP Admin/Classic” editor, let me give you a quick tour of our earlier WP Admin dashboard. It is still there in the back end of every WordPress.com website and in daily use on sites running the WordPress open source software. Grab your day pack and let’s go!

On our tour we’ll cover:

  1. How do I get there?
  2. What will I see when I get there?
  3. What can I do when I get there?
  4. Are there areas I should avoid?
  5. What do the locals recommend?

How do I get there?

Head over to your site’s Posts or Pages dashboard. If you are not already in the WP Admin version of the dashboard, you can switch to it by clicking on the View tab that appears in the upper right corner of your browser window and selecting “Classic View.”

(You’ll be able to switch back to the “default view” if you prefer it, but you won’t be able to access the Classic Editor from there.)

What will I see when I get there?

Once you are in the Classic View of the Posts or Pages dashboard, you’ll see an option to create or edit a post or page with the Classic Editor.

To create a new post or page, click the down arrow at the top and click on the Classic Editor link. To edit an existing post or page that was created originally with the Classic Editor, click the “Classic Editor” link that appears when you hover your cursor over the post or page title.

screenshot of Posts dashboard with arrows pointing to the classic editor options
Classic View-Posts dashboard Classic Editor access

Pro Tip: The Posts and Pages dashboards in WP Admin are very useful for Bulk Editing and Quick Editing. These are features that you will find only on the WP Admin Edit Pages Screen and Edit Posts Screen.

What can I do when I get there?

Once you’ve opened the Classic Editor, you’ll see an editing interface looking much like the one below:

screenshot of WP Admin classic editor with right sidebar highlighted
Your modules may be different depending on your theme.

The right sidebar should already be familiar to you. The various modules can be moved around to suit your needs or hidden by clicking the Screen Options tab at the very top right of your browser window and unchecking the modules you want to remove from view.

screenshot of the WP Admin Classic Editor's Visual toolbar
The WP Admin Classic editor Visual toolbar

If you previously used the MySite Classic editor, the WP Admin Classic editor toolbar icons and buttons should also be familiar. If not, this support guide to the Visual editor will help. If you previously composed your posts or pages in HTML in the MySite Classic editor’s HTML tab, the Text tab is where you can do that now.

screenshot of the WP Admin Classic Editor's Text toolbar
The WP Admin Classic editor Text toolbar

Now that we’re here, let’s take a breather and enjoy the view!

Photo by Vladimir Kudinov on Pexels.com

Are there areas I should avoid?

Clicking certain editing links on your site will open the Block editor by default. If you prefer to write or edit in the Classic Editor, you need to avoid clicking:

  1. The Edit link that appears to you when you’re logged in and viewing the public side of your posts and pages.
  2. The Edit button in your site’s Action Bar, again on the public-facing side of your site.
  3. The Write button in the WordPress.com Admin bar.
  4. The “Write blog post” and “Add a page” links in the Quick Links section of your MySite dashboard’s homepage.
  5. The Add New Post or Post or Page titles in the MySite Posts and Pages dashboards.
  6. Even the Add New link in the sidebar on WP Admin’s Posts and Pages dashboard.

In all the above cases, you’ll need to navigate to your site Post or Page dashboard’s Classic View and click the Classic Editor in the drop down menu to create a new post/page or click the Classic Editor link to edit an existing post/page.

After the MySite/Calypso editor was introduced in 2015, there was an uproar among WordPress.com users wanting to get back and write in the original WP Admin dashboard editor. At the time, a fellow WordPress.com user collected the various workarounds for detouring back to WP Admin when creating a new post. You can read more about those workarounds in his post. Use that info at your own abilities and discretion.

What do the locals recommend?

Back in the middle of August 2020, the WordPress.com blog published a follow-up post concerning the switch to the Block editor where there was no mention at all of editing in the WP Admin Classic editor interface, unlike in the first announcement last May.

On my own site, I mentioned in a comment reply to my “The Classic Editing Experience” that Staff’s attitude in assisting users to return to the WP Admin Classic editor was changing. That change is now even more pronounced in recent Staff replies in the community forums, as well as on the Support site itself with the removal of mentions of the WP Admin Classic editor as an option from the support documents. So, the push is on to have everyone writing in the Block editor, whether be it in the Block editor’s full range of blocks or the Classic Block alone.

As painful as this might be for WordPress.com’s long-time users, this makes sense from WordPress.com’s perspective because we’ve been advised that the Classic editor plugin (which is what we’re actually using in WP Admin right now) will be supported officially only through the end of 2021. That’s a little more than a year from now. Whether something will change between now and then (see update here), or an alternate method of posting will be developed and integrated, we just don’t know. Perhaps the writing is (in a block) on the wall.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. Like any good tour guide, I would be remiss in not sharing a slideshow of our journey.

As always, the information in this post is correct as of publication date. Changes are inevitable.

This post was originally published in 2020 and updated in March 2022.

Featured Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Published by JenT

After 4 years hand-coding websites, 2 years setting up and running WordPress sites, I launched my first website on WordPress.com in 2006 and never looked back. Since then, I’ve helped other site owners safely navigate through the ins and outs of the ever-changing WordPress.com ecosystem. Find me at wpcommaven.com

26 thoughts on “Writing in the WP Admin Classic Editor-A Quick Tour for the Perplexed WordPress.com User

  1. Great post. Now I recall what you said about the WP-Admin always being there (never went away) but for some people it doesn’t show up in the sidebar and in that case you have to add /wp-admin in the URL.

    So now I can reframe my question: Who is it who does not see the WP-Admin in the sidebar? I think it is people new to WP.com after a certain event in the timelines of development?

    Your ‘Are there areas I should avoid?’ section cleared up a few things for me. I use the Block Editor, as you know, and so all road lead to the same Rome – but I have wondered (still wonder) why there are so many roads?

    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour. 🙂

      AFAIK-the link to WP Admin in the MySite dashboard appears for everyone. Even the account I created for the Coursera WP (sic) course, which is less than a month old, has it. At some point in the past, however, WPcom removed that link and then reinstated it.

      As far as all roads leading to Rome, I was looking over my notes on the May 18th WPcom blog announcement about the switch to the Block editor and at that time the post author noted in the comments that there would be a way to default to the Classic editor from within the Block editor after the entire platform switched. So far either that hasn’t happened or they’ve stepped back from that idea. Given the current Staff replies in the forums and the documentation changes, I’m thinking the latter. The result is that if someone wants to write in the WP Admin Classic Editor, WPcom doesn’t currently provide those users a one-click way to get there. This is a terrible user experience, IMO.

      1. Ah yes, I remember you said that WP-Admin went and then came back again.

        I guess the transition to block-editor-only has to happen at some point. Backward compatibility will end and everyone will be javascripted into the new world.

      2. Or move to another blogging service.

        I look at the WPcom stats page from time-to-time to see if the mass exodus has begun, but so far bupkis relatively speaking. In September there were 181,000 deletions, but also 1,366,000 signups if that is indicative of anything.

      3. For the deletions, would they be individual blogs or individual users? I’ve deleted a few blogs that are under my main WP name after having a magnificent idea to start another one and then deciding that my idea was not so magnificent after all.

      4. Hm, on the activity page for signups, on the deletion section of that page they specifically mention “blogs”. And the number I mentioned earlier, 1,366,000 is the monthly number of new blogs created, not the monthly number of new users. That number is 1,654,000. So it doesn’t seem to be slowing down if we can trust the stats. We’ll have to wait until November before we can see the numbers for this month.

      5. There are people who maybe sign up to comment or be a user on someone else’s site or to connect jetpack to their org site . Those are 3 scenarios that come to mind.

  2. I’ve just spent nearly six weeks working on my blog theme in css, for Colouring the Past, and updating the links, pages, widgets, etc. A difficult task for me these days because of my brain fog, but eventually I managed it (with some help from wp staff yesterday). Today I finished colouring a pic, decided to put it straight into a new post in the blog, to add the text later, and lo and behold, when I clicked on ‘New Post’ from wp-admin, it opened the Block Editor. I looked in the settings or options panel and there is no longer a ‘switch to Classic Editor’. On the All Posts page (via wp-admin) there are options to edit existing posts via the Classic Editor, but there’s no way to use the wp-admin version of the classic editor in a new post, it just reverts straight over to Blocks.

    In my dismay I thought I’d look at the Classic Editor plugin on wp dot org (as I’ve been wondering about self-hosting, though if I did, I’d have to get a managed one), and I see that it’s been having so many bugs and glitches that it’s barely usable, and I’m wondering if that’s the real reason for Gutenberg.

    Another thing I discovered via wp dot org is that the ‘new’ theme I chose and have been working on for so long is 2 years old and is not being updated and might not work with the newer wp versions. That, I’m sure, will apply to wp dot com, as well as dot org sites.

    Oh and I looked at my other blogs and all have been switched to Gutenberg. Not only that but the one that I asked to have switched back to Classic, which WAS switched back to classic (and I like many other people were told it would still be in use at least until 2022) – has also been changed to the Block Editor.

    I’m tired, so I’ll take myself off now. Thanks for your post, it’s nice to see a recap of the old editor. I shall miss it, but sadly I suspect a lot of what you’ve written is already out of date. 😦

    1. First of all, nice to see you, Val. I’d wondered if you’d dropped off the map having no new posts for weeks on any of your sites, at least those I know of. I’m so sorry to hear about your site frustrations.

      That “switch to classic editor” option in the MySite editor sidebar was removed when your sites defaulted to the Block editor there. (I did mention earlier that Staff changing your most recent account/site to Classic at MySite was likely only a temporary thing-again, sorry.)

      But I’d be surprised that clicking on the Add New button at the top of WP Admin’s All Posts dashboard on your existing sites doesn’t open a new Classic post for you or you don’t have the choice of Block or Classic in the drop down menu on that Add New button. This is especially so since you said you have the option to EDIT a post using the Classic editor at WP Admin. Just make sure you are clicking the down arrow on the Add New button at the top of the All Posts dashboard and not the Add New link in the sidebar. There be dragons there.

      Since I saw your reply here I’ve been through nearly all my other accounts, both new and old, and it’s only on the most recent accounts, those created since December 2019, where I have just the Block editor. That is as expected and although Staff earlier advised that once the entire platform is switched to the Block editor at MySite, that Block/Classic drop down menu at All Posts>Add New button would be available on those sites as well, I’m not so certain now.

      If the latest site where you don’t have the choice of editor is under a new account, have you tried transferring ownership of that site to your older account? I saw that suggested in the forums by another veteran volunteer, but have not tried it myself.

      1. I looked again and you’re right, there’s a drop-down with classic/block from the Add New button at the top of the All Posts page. That’ll be my wonky brain problems playing tricks on me again. Til now, I have probably been using the ‘Add New’ via the side panel. I hadn’t realised that they’d mucked about with that as well. That’s in the colouring blog, my others – as you say – don’t have it at all.

        I do have one very old account, but I haven’t used it for absolutely ages because of problems I had with some of my commenters in it, and there are no longer any blogs there, only the account itself. Really not sure I’d like to post from that one again. I can’t see that it would work, though – isn’t it via each blog rather than via the account it’s on? And it surely won’t work with the newer blogs.

        I realised recently that I’ve not posted to the Sandie blog since June. And the most recent post (soon to be rectified) in this one (In My Real Life) was the Brain Fog one in early September. This is the thing with my mental processing problems – I have to apply myself to just one task at a time and it has literally taken me nearly for six weeks of work on the other blog. It’s not just my other blogs that have suffered but quite a lot of my day to day life as well.

        The thing that bugs me most about all this is not even that they’ve replaced the old editor with Gutenberg site-wide, but all the lies they’ve been telling for so long (as in the ‘oh yes, the classic editor will be here til 2022’, and all the horrendously frequent changes of other things. I could cope with it better when I first started blogging here in 2009, but as the year pass I find I’m less able to.

        The site has been heading, for a long time, toward the commercial sector and away from personal bloggers, and I just feel very left behind.

      2. Like I said in my post, there are places one must avoid if one wants to write exclusively in the WP Admin Classic editor, but it’s annoying to have to jump through hoops to get there. The bookmark method is probably the most straightforward for most.

        But honestly, Val, WordPress.com is constantly changing. I doubt I need to remind you of the uproar over the “Beep Beep Boop” when the MySite editor was introduced 5 years ago. IMO “telling lies” is a bit strong. The forum Staff and HEs who answer our questions are also dealing with an ever-changing environment and, more importantly, they do not make the decisions, but have to deal with the outcome and user reaction.

        Regardless, you mentioned in a comment on my site that the timing of this change was horrible and in that I agree with you. We all are dealing with a lot of other things right now. If the changes here are that onerous to you, take a step back and breathe, and come back to it when you are more refreshed. There’s no sense in beating yourself up over something that should bring you pleasure. 🙂

    2. Val, check again in WP Admin on your accounts/sites where you say you don’t have the drop down menu in the Add New button to switch between Classic and Block. All my accounts/sites, including the one I opened just a month ago, now have that option. 🙂

  3. PS. My previous comment had paragraphs, but it seems wp dot com currently doesn’t recognise them. Sorry.

      1. In my browser, when I posted the comment, it had no separate paragraphs. When I returned to it later, it had! Sorry.

  4. I am so glad you’re doing all the work for us 🙂 . Even though I’d read your previous posts re: new editor, I panicked a little today to see all my blogs had automatically switched to block. Luckily familiarising myself with your instructions got me to the drop-down where you can choose classic editor.

    I recently tested the block editor in a private test blog for galleries. I do a monthly roundup of pics arranged in square tiles which looked perfectly normal in the preview at first but after a few seconds started to get all messed up – the squares suddenly appeared as full-sized pics. Any experience with that?

    1. Hi Kiki – I’m really glad if any info I provided helped you. It was kind of you to mention it. 🙂

      As far as I’m concerned, the panic you and other users had was avoidable (and still is!) had WPcom eased us into the transition via webinars and the like. I don’t think the lessons from 5 years ago when we suddenly went from WP Admin to Calypso were digested well or at all.

      Regarding the issues you’re having with the Gallery, embarrassingly enough I’ve pretty much fallen off the Gallery bandwagon, but I have seen similar issues with other users in the community forums and the general feeling is that the age of the theme you’re using plays a part. The Galleries themselves have undergone a huge change with the transition to the Block editor, each Gallery type is mostly a separate block now, so I’ll need to revisit that. Meantime, perhaps try a workaround like using the Classic block when you need to add a Gallery? Otherwise, ping Support for sure.

  5. Well, make that ‘white lies’ if you want. It’s a phrase I rarely use but I do feel it right now. Yes, stepping back is probably what I need to do.

    1. I guess we could argue semantics, but I don’t feel that’s a fair description either. I think the information given is what is known at the time it is given. As things change, and we are in a period of rapid change right now, even statements made a month ago might no longer be accurate. No sense dwelling on it or letting it upset you. Breathe! (hugs)

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