The WordPress Classic Editor: How to Use It (And Whether It’s Right For You)

There’s a war going on, right under our noses. For a while now, we’ve been mere pawns in the battle between WordPress’ Block Editor and the Classic Editor. The question is: Why?

In the real-world, there’s less of a battle than comment sections and Twitter feeds will have you think. Still, the Classic Editor is a viable solution over the Block Editor in some situations.

Given this, we’ll look at the WordPress Classic Editor, and give you some insight into why you’d want to use it. We’ll also look at how to install and use it – and it’s a straightforward process.

Introducing the WordPress Classic Editor

The WordPress Classic Editor is not a new solution for working on a post or page. It has been a staple of WordPress since the start.

wordpress classic editor

It’s based on the open-source TinyMCE editor, and includes a text area and a bunch of formatting tools. The most important aspect for WordPress’ needs is that it’s customizable.

As such, it stuck around for a long time, despite being less of a ‘looker’ than it once was. For the Classic Editor’s benefits, its visuals paled compared to more modern editors. Medium, Wix, and Squarespace all offered editors better equipped to create content.

Even so, the Classic Editor’s functionality has seen it develop a fervent fan base. Despite removing the Classic Editor from WordPress, there were so many calls for its return that you can now use a plugin version. Let’s find out why it’s ideal for some types of sites.

Why You Would Want to Use the WordPress Classic Editor

We’re going out on a limb here to say if you’re setting up a new site, there’s no need to use the WordPress Classic Editor. A couple of years ago, there would have been an argument to make this decision regardless. Though, the functionality of the Block Editor has improved since then.

As such, the Block Editor is now a first-choice tool, rather than a supporting ‘goodwill’ install. Even so, it’s not going to be the best case for all applications. Here is a list of a few use cases:

  • For a long-term site, there may be functionality not yet supported by the Block Editor.
  • You could be using a page builder for your layout and content, so have no need for the Block Editor.
  • If you’re a developer, your clients may only need the Classic Editor’s functionality.

In our opinion, none of the above is a nailed-on reason for using the Classic Editor. Even using a page builder is going to be less of a concern over the next year or so, as Full Site Editing (FSE) is on its way. This big phase will look to offer parity with the likes of Elementor and Beaver Builder.

Using the WordPress Block Editor

As you might expect, the Block Editor is our preferred way to create content for WordPress. The functionality not yet present in the editor is still found elsewhere. At current writing, there are few drawbacks. Here’s why it should be on your radar:

  • It’s the ‘official’ way to create content in WordPress, so is compatible with the whole Content Management System (CMS).
  • More developers have jumped on board. This means there are more compatible products, and better updates for the core code.
  • The future of the Block Editor is FSE. This means it will be more competitive with third-party page builders.

Even given the above, the Classic Editor still has a place. If you or your clients want to use a familiar editor on a temporary basis, it’s simple to use.

How to Install the WordPress Classic Editor

The good news is that installing the WordPress Classic Editor is straightforward. In fact, the process is much like other plugins. Here’s a quick recap.

Open the Plugins > Add New screen in your WordPress dashboard. The plugin is often displayed on this page, along with some other ‘essential’ plugins.

wordpress classic editor plugin

If you don’t see the plugin displayed here, you can use the Search plugins… box to find it. Once you’re ready, click the Install Now button, and wait for WordPress to do its thing.

When the button changes to Activate, click it and wait a few more seconds. At this point, the WordPress Classic Editor plugin is ready to use.

How to Use the WordPress Classic Editor

The first task is to change the Classic Editor’s settings to match your needs. To do this, head to the Settings > Writing page of the WordPress dashboard:

wordpress classic editor settings

There are two options to choose from: one for setting a default editor, and another to let the user switch editor. Your choices here will be personal preference. Once you’ve made your changes, save them and head to the Posts and/or Pages screen. Here, pick a post and take a look at the editing screen.

classic editor screen

If you choose not to let users switch, you’ll come to the old TinyMCE Editor, and you can continue as normal. Though, if you give your users a choice of editor, hovering over a post or page entry will display a menu of options. This includes choosing the WordPress Classic Editor:

chosse editor

Note that you can also switch the editor from inside the post too. The sidebar meta boxes offer the option you need:

switch editor

If you don’t want to use the Classic Editor any more, you can uninstall it without impacting your content. In posts or pages that used the Classic Editor, you’ll see content displayed in a Classic Block:

convert to blocks

Using the Convert to Blocks option, you can switch your content over to the Block Editor in a snap.

In Summary

Almost by popular demand, WordPress has two editors. Although the Block Editor offers a modern way to create content, many users love the old editor too. As such, the WordPress Classic Editor has a stay of execution. Until then, it still offers a viable way to create content that’s familiar to boot.

Even better, installing it takes seconds, as you’ll use a plugin. It gives you the TinyMCE editor, and also a couple of options to make the experience a little better than before.

Does the WordPress Classic Editor draw your attention, and if so, how does it beat other editors? Let us know in the comments section below!

wordpress support plans

Author Bio:

“Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses.

When he’s not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.”

  1. As a 12-year user of the free version, and now unwilling to pay $300/yr for the Classic plugin, I use the Classic Editor that is embedded in the Block Editor. Consequently, when I choose to “Add a Post”, it’s the Block Editor that first shows up on my screen. To use the Classic Editor, my only option is to choose the Classic Editor that’s embedded in the Block Editor.
    So now I have both the Block Editor and, below it, the Classic Editor on my screen. As I type my post into the Classic Editor, somehow, some way, I do something that switches me from the Classic Editor to the Block Editor. I finish writing my post thinking that I’m still in the Classic Editor only to discover that my post is identified as a Block Post.
    Can anyone shed any light on what I may be doing to cause this switch between the two editors without realizing what’s going on? Even better, is there any way to run the Classic Editor without the presence of the Block Editor?

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