WordPress User Registration

Have you hit a road block when it comes to WordPress user registration?

You probably would like to have new users register before being able to take certain actions (for example, posting reviews or commenting) but do not want them to have access to the WordPress Dashboard? Truth is, WordPress User Registration doesn’t have to be hard to get.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a straight forward guide to the WordPress User Registration that will take you through:

  • the default WordPress user registration
  • recommended plugins to make it work the way you want
  • code and tutorial suggestions for the more advanced readers

So if you found the user registration in WordPress confusing, hopefully the WordPress User Registration Series will shed some light on the hole subject and gets you closer to finalizing your project.

The Default WordPress User Registration

Default WordPress User Registration

We’ll start with some basic knowledge about WordPress users and the entire registration process. If you’re already accustomed with this, you can come back next week for the plugin and code snippets parts!

There are many reasons you might want to allow other users to register on your site. Membership sites have been around for ages, managing a bigger number of contributors or perhaps creating a stand alone web-app where logged in users get access to features or content.

This section will take you through the steps of adding users to your WordPress installation, open registrations so anyone can create an account, takes the mystery out of the different user roles and capabilities and explains the steps a user needs to take in order to register for your site.

Understanding User Roles and Capabilities

Before you start adding users or opening registrations to your site, you need to have a basic understanding of the User Roles and Capabilities.
Combined they define a set of tasks a user is allowed to perform (for example editing a post or installing plugins).

WordPress has five pre-defined Roles: Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber. Each Role is allowed to perform a set of tasks called Capabilities. They vary from the Administrator Role, that can do pretty much everything to the Subscriber, who can only update his own profile.

A few things you can do by default with Roles and capabilities:

  • The default role for new users can be set from the Settings General SubPanel.
  • You can filter your users in the user listing page Users > All User SubPanel based on their user role.
  • You can add or remove capabilities from user roles or even create new user roles (ex: client, member) using Plugins or Through Code.

For more information about Roles & Capabilities it’s always a good thing to checkout the Codex Page.

Allowing New User Registration

When opening up your site to the WordPress User Registration, it’s recommended you leave the default User Role setup in Settings -> General SubPanel to subscriber, since you don’t know who will register on your site – and you don’t want to arbitrarily give higher levels of access to various parts of your website unless you actually know that particular user.

The good part is that as an admin you can always change the role on a user by clicking edit on that particular account in the Users -> All Users SubPanel.

To activate the WordPress User Registration you need to enable Anyone Can Register in the Settings -> General SubPanel. If you don’t have it enabled users get a notification letting them know “User Registration is currently not allowed”.

Enable WordPress User Registration

Enable WordPress User Registration

Also, in case you were wondering, the direct URL for registration on a WordPress site is http://yourdomain.com/wp-login.php?action=register. After a user enters the username and email address he’ll receive an email with his email and password (WordPress multisite users will get an activation link they need to click and then another email with their credentials).

After a user has registered, as a site Administrator, you can edit the users’s account and assign a different role if needed.

Manually Adding New WordPress Users

Allowing users to create accounts on your WordPress site isn’t the only way to do it. As an Administrator, you can also manually create new users with a username, email and a few other fields.

To do so you need to be logged in and then go to Users -> Add New SubPanel.

Add a new User In WordPress

Almost everything is self-explanatory, however it’s worth mentioning:

  • The required fields are Username, Email and Password (without them you can’t create a new user)
  • You can chose to send the credentials to the email address of the new user
  • And you can select what role your new user will have. You can change the default role in Settings -> General SubPanel.

Editing Your Profile

Found in the Users -> Your Profile SubPanel, this give you the possibility to change things like your Nickname or how you’re displayed publicly. Similar to the Add New User section, this is pretty straight forward with a few things that are worth mentioning.

Edit Your Profile in WordPress

  • The Display name publicly as is used by most themes as the default name under your posts and it can be a combination of username, first and last name and nickname
  • You can disable the WordPress Tool bar on the front-end of the site by deselecting the Show Toolbar when viewing site option. Please note this only affects you and by default it will still appear for other users on the front-end.
  • The Biographical Info is sometimes used by certain themes (like Twenty Eleven for example) to display an author widget right underneath the content of your blog post. Nice way to let people know who is the writer of the article they just read.

If you find these default setting limited and would want to add extra fields to your profile pages, the good part is that WordPress is so flexible that such a task is possible directly with certain plugins or you can even code this type of functionality your self if you’re up to it.

Managing Users

As an administrator, besides your own profile, you can also edit the profile of any user on your website. It can be useful for example to update the Bio for one of your authors or reset a password if they had problems with the default password reset.

To manage your users you need to go to Users -> All Users SubPanel.

WordPress All Users Panel

Worth noting:

  • The User Listing is sortable by Username, Name and Email.
  • You can filter based on their Roles.
  • As an Administrator you can edit and delete any user (including administrators), but you can not delete your own account
  • You can change a users role directly from this screen. Useful when you want to change multiple users roles all at once.

The Default Meta Widget

WordPress Meta Widget
To make it easier to access your dashboard, WordPress comes by default with a simple, yet useful Widget called Meta. You can find it in Appearance -> Widgets SubPanel. After you drag it to your sidebar, you’ll get access to Log in/out, admin, feed and WordPress links.

This way you can log in, log out and even register without having to write the exact WordPress url in the browser like http://yourdomain.com/wp-login.php


Generally speaking, the Default WordPres User Registration hasn’t changed much in past few years. It’s still pretty much the same. The good thing is that people are used with it and provides new users to a workflow that is clear and easy to understand. The bad thing is that it’s not as useful when it comes to building something that is more then a blog, and this is a growing trend that it’s not going to stop soon.

However unchanged the User Interface is, in code behind the User Registration is really, really good. It’s flexible, extendable and fairly straight forward to customize.

There are a ton of plugins (we’ll talk about them in Part 2) as well as a ton of tutorials and code snippets that can take your project one step closer to completion (keep an eye out for Part 3 of this series.)

Found this interesting? Then you should follow me on Twitter or get free updates by email.

About Cristian Antohe

Cristian Antohe is the co-founder Cozmoslabs. He's a WordPress developer, web designer and Open Source fanatic. He's part of the team that developed Profile Builder and WordPress Creation Kit and also helps curate wpMail.me.

Find me on: Google + | Twitter

50 thoughts on “WordPress User Registration

  1. Hello Cristian,
    I just installed wordpress + buddypress and I would like to know if profile builder works fine with both and populates users profile in Buddypress?

    • Hey Mickael,

      Short answer, no. Profile Builder doesn’t have support for BuddyPress profiles. However, both use standard WordPress functionality and you could control the BuddyPress templates to support Profile Builder custom fields. But you’ll need a good developer for that and just for that you won’t need Profile Builder.

      Hope this helps!

      • hey christian,

        i was wondering, is it possible to let people register and NOT want an email sent for verification? i know that sounds strange, but someone recently asked me that, and when i thought about it, i wasn’t sure. i’m thinking that you can’t, unless you deactivate completely.


        • Email Confirmation is only available in WordPress multi-site OR using Profile Builder and turning “Email Confirmation” to Yes.

          So… by default, users don’t have to confirm their email.

  2. I installed Profile Bulider in my WordPress Multisite. However each time we log-in it redirects to the login page. How come? Thanks.

  3. Profile builder is a great plugin, I am sure, but I have a question to ask. Why create a login form and registration frontend if then when clicking on the link password lost reappears the old backend of wordpress? I want to buy pro plugin, however, someone has to explain if it returned to the old page when I want to recover lost password …
    Sorry for my bad English… Thank you.

    • That’s a good question and we never explained it properly before.

      Truth is, it’s quite simple to redirect the WP Default Recovery page to any page you want using the Custom Addons Redirect in Profile Builder Pro so you can redirect users to the Lost Password page that contains the [[wppb-recover-password]] shortcode.

      For Profile Builder Free and Hobbyist, to get this functionality you need a small custom plugin that will do the same as the above. If you need it drop us an email or post in the forums!

      I’ll want to add this to our documentation since it’s turning into a recurring issue.

  4. Hello:
    I’ve been working on my website lately and now I see a lot or user registrations coming in. Is this something I should be concerned about? Many of the e-mail addresses seem strange. (I guess mine is, too). I’m considering closing off registration but I’m not sure as to what to do. Do you have any suggestions?

  5. Every time I update WordPress I get problems logging in again. Now with the new WordPress 3.6 it now says the the update is almost done and there is a need to register as an application on WordPress. But there is no instructions as to how this is done! What does it really mean? Where to go to do whatever, what to fill in, etc? Its all very frustrating and confusing.

  6. Dear Cristian,
    I am looking for an option to redirect user directly to User profile page after registration . I check to install using Jeff Farthing’s “Theme My Login” plugin . But there is no option for “Register” . Please advise a solution.


  7. I see that you mentioned that “After a user enters the username and email address he’ll receive an email with an activation link and password.” I had (now deactivated) an old plugin (SABRE) installed that sent a confirmation link that had to be clicked to allow access. I assumed that the activation link you mentioned was the same. In testing my SABRE-free site, the basic registration email just contains the password, email, and a link to the login page-no actual activation link. Did I misunderstand what you meant, or am I just missing a setting somewhere?

  8. Hi, I feel I’m on the right track with this article…Thank you! so if I uncheck “anyone can register,” will people still be able to leave comments to my posts (are people actually “registering” when they type in their name and email to leave a comment, or is that something different)?

    I notice (after 3 years of having my blog) that I’m all the sudden getting a lot of new user registrations, mainly weird emails as mentioned above; bots?? If these are bots registering, will unchecking “anyone can register” remedy this?

    I am the lone manager of my blog and don’t understand why it would be good to allow users to “register,” even at the subscriber level? What is the intention of people who register as users? (And my understanding is that this is not the same as “subscribing to a blog,” the option of which I recently removed so I could notify people of all my new posts only through my newsletters.

    Sorry if these are silly questions. I know I’m missing some pieces here. :) Thank you!!

    • Hi Catherine,
      If you don’t have any type of membership in place for your site, you should definitely uncheck “anyone can register”.
      Comments don’t need people to be logged in, so turning registration off won’t affect the commenting functionality.

      • Thank you, I had exactly the same question. I could never understand why the registration function was even there when all I need visitors to do is leave comments which I can moderate. Even now I’m still not sure what it’s purpose is given that people don’t need to register to comment, but at least I now know I don’t need it.

  9. Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some
    overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!

  10. hello! brother i want some help with u.
    When a new user want to register . There is only 2 options user name and email.i want some changing and want to show username, name, password and email. how could i do .Please help me

  11. Helllo there! Do you know iff they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?

    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any

  12. Hi
    Very nice and detailed article.
    I have a problem with zero results from googling.
    Recently on my new WP installs, the “Register” link does nothing. The page just goes blank. I checked everything, but since they are new installs, I don’t know where to look. Could you throw some light? Thanks

  13. Dear Cristian Antohe, Thank you so much for creating this topic! I am using Weaver II and I give away a free eBook and I have several Mail Chimp sign up forms on my home page. But for some reason my visitors are completing the “New User Registration” form and then being redirected to my thank you page in order to download the eBook (I think). I need them to sign up on the Mail Chimp form so they are automatically added to my Mail Chimp List. It is becoming to much to keep up with copy and paste. My website is http://www.antiaginginsights.com I do not even see where they are signing up for “New User Registration” Any Help would be greatly appreciated.

  14. Hi, Cristian Antohe. Thanks for writing the wonderful article.
    I was setting up my multisite network and i came across a very strange situation. The user I created with Administator permissions or any other permission are not able to acess the dashboard. There was a 5 lines permission error saying you dont have permission to acess the “site”.

    Now the user was logging in from http://www.mainsite.com/subsite/wp-admin.php, So I could not figure out how to rectify it.

    I once again replaced the content of wp-congig.php and ltacess, After that the user was able to login. But even after logging in he is not able to publish a post or page and many links on the dashboard are still giving the pervious permissions error. Also what i noticed when creating a post from one of my user id is that the permalink for that post was still in http://www.mainsite.com/blog/ which is the link of mainsite and not in http://www.mainsite.com/subsite/ which is his site.

    I will appreciate If anyone can help me on this. I have read many articles but didnt find a solution yet.
    Note: Am running a directory based multisite on a shared host.

  15. I’m new to this, so I apologize if this is a newbie question. So far I’ve found the site to be fairly intuitive.

    I handle new user registrations for an on-line course we offer. I like to send the confirmation email which includes the user name and password. The problem is the email is from: Word Press and there is now greeting, it just says here is your user name and password.

    I did go into the settings/wp-member area and went to the “emails” tab and customized that, but it doesn’t change the confirmation email. I’m clearly looking in the wrong place to make those changes.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  16. Hi cristian, thanks for sharing this nice and helpfull port. So, I want a question to you. My register form not send password to email. which you are using a plugin advice to me. thanks

  17. Hi Cristian,

    Thanks for the good job.

    Q. I have a website, I made it on wordpress, each time a customer register in my site i don’t get a notification by say email! I should login everyday to do that manually! which is not practical at all.

    Do you have any idea how can i enable certain option in wordpress to enable me to be notified each time someone register in my website please?


  18. Are you still going to be doing a page on the
    Part 3 – Ultimate Developers Guide for WordPress User Registration – code snippets and short tutorials (coming soon)

    Thank you love the info you Cheers

  19. Hello,

    I am new in wordpress. I have insatled buddypress as a plugin to my website. Now the people who is registerd in wordpress are automaticly in buddypress but I want buddypress as a separate community. Is it posible.

    Thank you

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