Using the “Black” WP Admin Editor

There are two different dashboards (and editors) available in WordPress:  the default “blue” one and the advanced “black” one. If you’ve been using the blue for awhile, switching to the black one has a bit of a learning curve.  When you move up to the Business plan, you may find you need to use the black editor all the time. We’ll ease that curve by comparing the blue and black editors–providing a little walk-through tutorial.

Why I Had to Make the Change

It’s all Yoast SEO’s fault. In order to take advantage of any of the premium features in Yoast SEO, you have to use the black editor.  It’s needed to access the capabilities of other plug-ins, too,   like the MailChimp plug-in. The difference is that I don’t have to use the MailChimp plug-in all the time. I had used the black editor with my (now defunct) self-hosted site.  Now, I need to use it all the time.  I was not all that happy about going back to it. But there are advantages.

Good reason #1-I’m getting old, and my sight isn’t what it used to be.  The blue text on the light blue screen was often difficult to see. The black editor’s black text on a white background does give me less eye strain.

Good reason #2 -The black editor allows special characters.    This is important for when I want to teach my audience a little coding in HTML.  I was delighted to rediscover this!

Good reason #3 – It’s the only way to keep track of plug-ins, what they do, whether they’re healthy and functioning–and to take advantage of their features. 

Good reason #4 – You can use more advanced HTML !  Ah, if I had only known!  You can use tables for formatting and editing in the black editor!   Sweet!  

Let’s jump in and take a look, shall we?

Adding Posts

The differences between these two screens doesn’t seem like much.   In both editors, there’s one button to push for adding a new post.  The black editor allows us to work with comments and tags, too.


The menu for adding blog posts in the Blue Editor
The Blue Editor

The menu option for adding posts in the black editor
The Black Editor

The big difference comes when we have lots of drafts. The blue editor separates published posts from edited posts.

You can see here that I like to keep lots of drafts.  This is where I store my notes and “baby blog posts” that are still maturing.  When you look at all posts in the black editor, you get a chronological listing every single post, with some marked as “draft.”  I would have to use the “filter” option–and you cannot filter for drafts!  You can only filter for categories.  I’d have to create a new category, DRAFT, to be able to get the same capability from the black editor. (Sigh).  I can always go back and forth between the blue and black editors but honey, that’s a bit of a pain.

While Differences are Small, They do Matter

Using the Black editor takes slightly more time than the blue editor for a number of reasons.  When you add a new post, you’ll see big differences.  The blue editor uses a Times Roman (serif) font for your text and forces it into the proper column width for the blog, for a “what you see is what you get” look and feel.  The black editor provides you with a full screen width to work with–which will definitely change when you go to publish.   This means I may write paragraphs that are longer than I realize, or shorter than I realize.  I find I need to use the preview function more often — perhaps not a bad thing. Still, that’s one way that the black editor can slow me down.

Blue editor example
The Blue Editor makes the column roughly the same size as you will see in the finished post.
The Black Editor uses the entire screen width. The line breaks will change dramatically in the actual post

You may need to “save” more often.   The blue editor tends to auto-save posts you’re working on. The blue “save” button is up in the left hand corner, so it’s easier to see right before you go to close the post.  The black editor has the save button in the right hand corner, so it’s easier to forget to save.   I’ve noticed that I seem to need to save a bit more frequently using the black editor. Maybe I’m just nervous.  The blue editor’s save button is placed so that I never seem to forget to save.  The black editor?  Well. I need to relearn the habit.

The black editor’s publish settings dashboard


The blue editor’s publish settings dashboard.


Becoming Familiar with the Black Editor is Annoying but Worth it

I will probably continue to use the blue editor for brainstorming ideas and storing up baby blog posts for later development. It saves often and it saves me from having to continually preview. I like that.  But I have to admit, the Yoast SEO plug-in is improving my writing.  My review is in the works.  I expect it to be done quite soon.   For those thinking of moving to a self-hosted site or the business plan, getting familiar with the black editor is a good idea.   I’ll be writing more on the black editor–and about the black editor–in future posts.  I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction.

Thanks for reading!   ~Lola

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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