Customizing Your Screen Options in WordPress Admin for Maximum Efficiency and Effectiveness

[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]

Powerful little button!

The next few posts in this series will cover how to optimize your settings within WordPress to maximize your use of it for efficiency and effectiveness as well as share a few settings that I personally use across the blogs that I run.

Some of these are significant changes and options while others can be more aesthetic (but still related to efficiency from my perspective).

The point here is two-fold:

  • Optimize your options so you have the best experience using your blog as well as your end users.
  • Become as intimate as possible with your WordPress blog so that you can operate it fully!

The first thing I do after I install a new WordPress-powered blog is customize the Screen Options in every area possible:

Admin and Dashboard:

It still surprises me how many people have no clue about this little neat feature in WordPress called Screen Options which essentially give you the ability to customize both the layout of the dashboard as well as the features available.

The button is located on the top right of the screen (as seen above). Please note that not all areas in the WordPress admin have Screen Options available!

When you click it a drop-down menu shows up with all of the viewing options available as well as the ability to choose the layout. With this you can customize your own experience of each section:

For the WordPress Admin panel I typically only have 3 options showing:

  • Right Now
  • Incoming Links
  • Stats

Here’s what a typical dashboard looks like in all my blogs:

Essentially I choose these three because I want to know instantly when I first login how many “Pending” and “Spam” comments I have, what the traffic looks like currently (via the Stats) as well as any new “Incoming Links” from other sites and blogs of note.

I really don’t need anything else here.


For the “Posts” area I’ll only have the following settings:

  • Categories
  • Comments
  • Date
  • 30 Posts

I choose these for single-author blogs as there’s no need to show any other author fields because there’s only 1 author! But, for multi-author blogs you’d obviously want those.

Also, I choose 30 posts because my goal on any single-author blog (especially new blogs) is to have at least 1 post a day so what I’m showing is essentially the last month’s worth of posts as an overview:

Wonder why I don’t have “tags” checked? Read here!

Posts – Add New:

For this section I choose the following:

  • Categories
  • Featured Image

Unless your blog needs the other screens available then you can, of course, show those, but I typically don’t need any of them (and ask yourself when the last time you used any of those options!):

Posts – Categories:

I typically don’t change any settings here:

Posts – Post Tags:

I typically don’t change any settings here:

Make note that I pretty much despise tags in general. Read more here!

Media – Library:

I typically don’t change anything here:

Links – Links, Add New, Link Categories:

I don’t change anything here because I have almost never used “Links”:

Pages – Pages, Add New:

In these two sections I change a little up by removing “Author” on the Pages view and then keeping “Page Attributes” and “Discussion” on “Add New”:


The only thing I do here is change the number of comments at one time to 200. I do this because many of my blogs get a lot of spam and I want to view a lot of them at a time – clicking through 200-300 per day per blog can get tedious!


You probably didn’t even know about “Accessibility Mode” which gives you even more options with your widgets! You can toggle this on and off when you need to use it:

And… when it’s turned you can dive into each widget deeper:

Appearance – Menus:

If I am using any Menus in WordPress I typically have all of the options active:


I don’t change anything here:


I typically don’t touch anything here as well:

And that’s about it!

Above I’ve listed out every area of your WordPress blog that has the ability to customize any of the Screen Options but if I were to help you pinpoint the areas that are the most important it would be the following:

  • WordPress Admin Dashboard
  • Add Posts
  • Comments

Hopefully that helps! Again, the point in spending just a few minutes of customizing these areas is so that you can more quickly and more effectively use your WordPress software!

The better you use your blog software the better your blog will be!

[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series. Check out the rest here!]

  • Andrew

    I change the Dashboard of WordPress to only have active the same things that you have.

    I’ve never changed on any other pages of the WordPress admin panel, I’m thinking I might change some of the other ones as well now.

    • John Saddington

      an entirely new world…..!

  • ThatGuyKC

    Thanks for the tip!
    While I knew about the screen options I hadn’t yet found a setup I liked. Yours is much more streamlined and helps a lot. I appreciate the share.

    • John Saddington


    • John Saddington

      sure thing bro!

  • Brian Notess

    How did I not know about “Accessibility Mode”?

    Maybe it’s because of its vague and nondescript name… :-)

    • Peter P

      I was thinking the same thing!

      Accessibility Mode is AWESOME! Why don’t they have it enabled by default?

    • Mutant Minds

      The name is a little strange.

      I thought it was for the visually impaired to adjust their settings.

      Maybe they should name it “Deeper Widget” and give John the credit. At least that name would make you want to click on it.

      • Peter P

        Deeper Widget just somehow sounds a little crude to me…. :-)

        • Mutant Minds

          Wow! Didn’t mean for it to refer to anything else other than what John said about diving deeper into the widget.

          Sorry if I offended anyone. Guess I should have thought a little more about it from every perceived angle.

          • Peter P

            Oh.. no offense taken at all :-)

            You can’t be expected to take account of every warped mind out there!

            • John Saddington

              i have a strange mind too.

              • Brian Notess

                Wait, I missed all this. Now we’re calling it “Deeper Widget”? ;-)

        • John Saddington


    • John Saddington

      perhaps. perhaps.

  • Dwane Lay

    Sweet fancy Moses that is good information. I never took the time to really dive into the workings of WP, just set up the blog (moving from Blogger) and ran. Great series! Thanks a ton for sharing!

    • John Saddington

      sure thing dwane!

  • Randy Kinnick

    I had made some changes in my screen options, but hadn’t taken the time to “clean up” the look. You’re right…much more efficient. Thanks.

    • John Saddington

      excellent! how are things going?

      • Randy Kinnick

        Going ok…just very slow.

        • John Saddington

          anything need to change?

          • Randy Kinnick

            Not sure…my traffic is growing, and comments are growing, just not fast enough to suit me. :-)

            • Peter P


              You could try RT’ing some of other people’s posts on twitter a little more.

              It will help you build community and this get more RT’s yourself and more commenters.

              • Randy Kinnick

                Good advice, Peter. I will begin to do that. Thanks.

  • Justin Winter

    I might be doing something weird on my end but on the dashboard when I am changing the screen options it is seeming to not save.

    i.e.-I refresh or go to another page and then come back and then it is showing everything like before.

    Maybe a cache issue?

    Any ideas fellow tentbloggers?

    • John Saddington

      hmm. where are you hosted? have the newest version of wordpress? what cacheing are you using and what browser?

    • Peter P

      John’s right – and you should check all the things he mentioned.

      It looks like you’re hosted with what kind of server are you on? It looks like some of their servers are running PHP v4 which might be the issue.

      I’d start by trying it in another browser.

    • Peter P

      I Love the website, by the way.

      Excellent implementation of WordPress!

      • John Saddington

        :) it is pretty cool.

  • eduClaytion

    Great layout and tips John. I like this setup so much better.

    • John Saddington


  • Michael

    Changing the comments to 200 was clutch. I’m kinda embarrassed that I didn’t know I had more options at the top of the screen.

    • John Saddington

      dude. allllllllllll good. took me a while too!

  • Frank Gantz

    John, in the “Posts – Add New Posts”, I noticed that you did not include “tags”. Do you not use tags? Or do you add them some other way?

    Thanks for the useful info.

    • John Saddington

      you sir are very observant…! I have a post drafted to talk about this…! stay tuned!

      • Peter P

        I’m very interested in that post.

        When I was trying to link to all of the posts in this series I found it very difficult because I couldn’t find anything that set them apart from the other posts on the blog.

        Eventually I created a custom Google search engine which searched for the words “The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog” on your site, then I displayed the results of that search in an iframe on my post.

        • John Saddington

          i liked that implementation, btw.

          • Peter P

            It was the only way I could think of to make it auto-update as you add new posts to the series without you creating an RSS feed for the series.

            • John Saddington

              ah. you’re clever. Or you could have just kept a link to the series post that links all of them. ;)

              • Peter P

                Yeah, but that’s too many steps for people.

                They’re more likely to click on a link right in front of them than to go to a post on your site and search through that to find new posts.

                I wanted to drive as many people here as possible :-)

                • John Saddington

                  ah, thanks man!

    • John Saddington
  • Greg

    Hey John,
    Very nice post, there is so much to learn about WordPress, thank you for sharing.

    • John Saddington

      sure thing greg!

  • Rand

    I may be missing something but I don’t see ‘stats’ as one of the options on the Screen Options… Is there a plugin I need to get or something I need to check?

    • John Saddington <~~~ jetpack is a plugin you need!

      • Rand

        Awesome! Thanks a lot!

        • John Saddington

          wah wah!

  • Matt


    I wish I had read this post sooner as I actually thought I had to pay a programmer to remove the option to add comments on my page by changing the code to my theme. Good thing he told me to simply turn them off in the screen options. That being said, I’ve implemented some of your screen options settings into my own blog.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    • John Saddington

      sure thing dude! thanks for stopping by!

  • Rosa @ Flutter Flutter

    Just found your blog, and it’s super helpful! Have a question, as I’m working my way through all these, was wondering if Incoming Links is supposed to show links to all the blogs that I leave comments on… and not the ones that are linking to me!! How do I reset it? Or is this right?

    • John Saddington


      thanks so much for stopping by!

      yes, it should but typically not for comments.

  • Larry

    Um…widgets–>accessibility mode…just saved me about two hours per site for those that have a lot of sidebars and eons of boredom.