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Editing WordPress User Roles and Capabilities

Iain Poulson avatar
Iain Poulson Last updated on March 6, 2021

With the release of WP User Manager version 2.4, came the release of the Roles Editor feature. The Roles Editor easily allows you to manage the user roles that you have available on your WordPress site. It also allows you to create custom roles and capabilities (permissions) for both existing and new roles that you’ll be creating.

After creating or updating the roles, you can either assign these roles by default to your newly registered users, or you can assign it to them after they register on your site.

The Roles Editor

The Roles Editor can be hidden by default to prevent misuse since one change can affect a lot of users at once. Here’s what you need to do to disable the Roles Editor: 

  1. Navigate to USERS > SETTINGS
  2. Under the General tab, click on the Misc Settings sub tab
  3. Scroll down to the “Roles Editor” menu and untick the checkbox
  4. Click on the “Save Changes” button

Now that we’ve enabled the Roles Editor, you can find it under USERS > ROLES.

NOTE: By default, only administrators can enable and disable the Role Editor.

Default Roles

Once you have the Role Editor enabled, you can clearly see the default roles that WordPress have on your site.

If you can see more than the default ones, those maybe custom roles created by other plugins on your website. Most LMS, Membership plugins, and eCommerce plugins create their own roles to facilitate a more efficient data management. 

It’s best to leave these roles alone since making changes to these roles may affect a lot of users that are already assigned these roles on your WordPress site. 

Adding a New Role

The Role Editor also allows you to create your own custom roles, that you can assign specific permissions or capabilities on your WordPress site. 

You may need a user who can only update plugins, or only update posts, etc. This feature is really useful for those use cases. 

NOTE: Creating a new role in WordPress is different from creating new users. These are different processes. You can assign a role to a user after they’ve registered to your WordPress site. 

In case you want to add a Custom Role to your WordPress site, here are the steps:

  1. Turn on the Role Editor, following the instructions above. 
  2. Navigate to USERS > ROLES
  3. Click on “Add New Role”
  4. Add the the Role Name
  5. Click “Create Role” and proceed with adding Capabilities to the role that you created

Once you’re done creating the custom roles and adding capabilities to the new role that you created, you can now assign these roles to the users that’re already registered to your website. 

Editing Existing Roles

As mentioned above, WordPress or other plugins will already have existing roles on your site that will appear on the Roles Editor where you can also update the permissions allowed for these roles. 

NOTE: Please take note to exercise caution when updating permissions on existing and default roles on your WordPress site. Since if you have a lot of users registered on your site, any small changes can affect a lot of your users. 

Here are the steps that you can follow to update existing roles on your website:

  1. Turn on the Role Editor, following the instructions above. 
  2. Navigate to USERS > ROLES
  3. Click on the “Edit Capabilities Button” next to the role name that you’d like to edit
  4. Make necessary changes to the capabilities to the roles that you’ve selected. 
  5. Click on “Save Changes” once you’re done editing

The changes in permissions will take effect immediately.

Adding and Removing Capabilities

Adding and removing capabilities is a useful feature in case you overlooked something when creating a custom role and need to change it, or cannot find the built in options on your plugins’ custom roles to update the permissions. 

Here are the steps in adding and removing capabilities using the Roles Editor

  1. Go to the Role Editor
  2. Click the “Edit Capabilities” button on the right side of the role that you’d like to update
  3. On the left sidebar, you can select the specific category of capabilities or permissions that you would like to update
  4. Check/Uncheck the necessary roles that you’d either like to Grant/Deny with the selected user. NOTE: Leaving them unchecked will leave the default permissions in effect for that specific role and capability. 
  5. Once you’re done editing, click “Save Changes”

TIP: If you’d like to instead see all the permissions and capabilities available for you to update, you can scroll down and select the “All” tab on the left sidebar and browse through the appropriate roles and capabilities that you’d like to update. 

The available roles and categories also depend on the specific plugins that you have enabled on your WordPress site. Different plugins may add different capabilities that you can customize per role. 

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