Useful Free Admin Plugins For WordPress

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The admin area is the heart of any WordPress-powered website. It’s where everything is controlled and where admin, editors, authors and contributors publish content to posts, pages and other custom post types. The default features of WordPress are fine for some website owners, although you may find that certain features need to be improved and others need to be added.

Thankfully, the core features of WordPress can easily be extended with plugins. Plugins enable you to extend only the areas you need. For example, if you have a basic blog with five authors, you might only be interested in plugins that improve your editorial process and speed up the process of articles being written, reviewed and published. Likewise, if your website allows registration, you may want to add a plugin that lets you specify what users can and cannot do.

Today, we’ll show you a number of great plugins that will enhance your WordPress website in some way. These administration plugins are all free to download from the official WordPress plugin directory1 and will help protect your website, give you more control over users or automate the editorial process.

Post Scheduling And Management

1. Editorial Calendar

This is the perfect plugin for managing the scheduling of your posts. Editorial Calendar2 adds a calendar page to the post section of your admin area. Each day shows the posts that are scheduled for that day. Multiple posts are listed in chronological order.

Using the calendar, you can quickly edit titles and publishing times and change the status of posts from “Draft” to “Pending review” to “Published” or “Scheduled.” You can change the content of posts using the “Quick edit” option, too. To change a post’s date, all you have to do is drag and drop the article to another day, and the date stamp will be automatically updated. Useful for those of you who schedule a lot of articles in advance.

Editorial Calendar3

Editorial Calendar: Information and download4 | Demo5

2. Peter’s Collaboration E-mails

A great plugin for managing the editorial flow of posts. When a contributor submits a post for review, the plugin emails the specified users to let them know there is a post to review. Once the post is approved, the contributor gets an email letting them know it has been accepted. If the post is changed back to “Draft,” the contributor is advised that it has not been accepted and is sent a link to edit the article.

Peter's Collaboration E-mails6

Peter’s Collaboration E-mails: Information7 | Download8

3. Peter’s Post Notes

From the same developer as Peter’s Collaboration E-mails, Peter’s Post Notes is a simple plugin that helps authors collaborate with each other on posts. It adds a note area next to the “Publish” box on the editing pages for posts and pages.

Peter's Post Notes9

Peter’s Post Notes: Information10 | Download11

4. Content Audit

Content Audit enables you and your staff to easily review old content and determine if it’s still relevant. The plugin works with posts, pages and media. You can automatically set content as outdated after a set period of time and notify post authors about it. Content can be marked as redundant, outdated or trivial. You can also mark content as needing a review of SEO or style.

Content Audit12

Content Audit: Information13 | Download14

5. Edit Flow

One of the most feature-rich editorial plugins available for WordPress. It comes packaged with a calendar for scheduling posts more easily, custom statuses to define the exact stage a post or page is at, threaded commenting between authors and editors, editorial meta data and notifications to let authors and editors know about the status of a post or page.

It also features user groups to help you manage your staff better, and a story budget that highlights upcoming content.

Edit Flow15

Edit Flow: Information16 | Download17

6. WP Document Revisions

A document-management system that enables teams to work together and collaboratively edit files, posts and pages. Team members can edit spreadsheets, Word documents, images and more. Details of how documents have been revised can be entered, and older revisions can be restored easily at any time. You can also make projects private or password-protect them for more security.

WP Document Revisions18

WP Document Revisions: Information19 | Download20

General Admin

7. Adminimize

Adminimize6521 is a great plugin that lets you hide unnecessary items from all areas of your website. This is useful for those of you who want to simplify things for clients and make sure they don’t have access to features that they don’t need.

You can change back-end options; global options; dashboard options; write options for posts, pages and custom page types; link options; and menu options. There is also an export function that lets you easily duplicate settings across your other websites.

Adminimize22

Adminimize: Information and download23

8. Codepress Admin Columns

Codepress Admin Columns24 lets you customize your admin screen for all post types and users. Simply define the columns that you want shown in each area, and disable the ones that are irrelevant to you. You can add custom fields, and the plugin works well with some other popular admin plugins, too.

Codepress Admin Columns25

Codepress Admin Columns: Information81605726 | Download27

8. Admin Management Xtended

Adds AJAX-powered editing options to the editing pages of your posts and pages. The buttons let you switch a post from “Published” to “Draft” and vice versa. You can also change the date, edit the post’s slug and switch comments off more quickly than usual.

Admin Management Xtended28

Admin Management Xtended: Information and download29

9. WordPress Tweaks

Lets you toggle more than a dozen simple tweaks, such as disabling the dashboard’s admin bar, disabling the Flash uploader, disabling post revisions and much more. Also worth checking out is DP Tweaks30, which has a few different tweaks.

WordPress Tweaks31

WordPress Tweaks: Information and download32

10. WordPress Admin Bar Improved

Gives you complete control over the admin bar. Default items such as your website’s name and website links can be disabled, and you can add items such as a log-in bar, registration link and custom menu items.

WordPress Admin Bar Improved33

WordPress Admin Bar Improved: Information and download34

11. WordPress Post Formats Admin UI

Adds a built-in admin interface for post formats35. Each tab has been designed to work better with its matching post format. For example, the video tab only has a field for the video’s title and a text area to post the video’s code. Don’t be surprised if you see this built into WordPress’s core in 2012.

WordPress Post Formats Admin UI36

WordPress Post Formats Admin UI: Information37 | Download38

12. Audit Trail

A useful of way to track exactly what is happening on your website. Audit Trail shows you what actions users have taken in the order that events have happened. You can track file attachments; manage categories, comments, links, posts and pages; switch themes; and manage user profiles, log-ins and user page visits.

Audit Trail39

Audit Trail: Information and download40

Admin Styling

13. Custom Admin Branding

A quick way to brand the admin area for clients or staff. The log-in logo, admin bar logo and footer logo can easily be changed in the plugin settings page, and you can change the log-in color scheme, too.

Custom Admin Branding41

Custom Admin Branding: Information and download42

14. Fluency Admin

A great admin styling plugin that was toned down last year due to improvements in the default admin style. The plugin lets you upload your logo to the log-in page and admin bar and change the color scheme of the admin area. The admin bar and admin menus can also be customized.

Fluency Admin43

Fluency Admin: Information44 | Download45

Security

15. Login Lockdown

An essential plugin that limits the number of log-in attempts from a user from an IP range within a defined time period. You can adjust the maximum number of retries a user is allowed, the retry time period and the length of time a user is locked out. Details of which users are currently locked out are on the settings page, but unfortunately it doesn’t store this data for future reference (i.e. to track those who repeatedly get locked out).

Login Lockdown46

Login Lockdown: Information47 | Download48

16. Secure WordPress

A security plugin that lets you apply around a dozen tweaks. Tweaks include adding an index file to the plugin directory, removing the version number of your WordPress installation from all areas, and blocking queries from harmful websites.

Secure WordPress49

Secure WordPress: Information50 | Download51

17. WP Security Scan

Another great security plugin from Website Defender52 for improving the security of your WordPress-powered website. It provides information on how to make your website more secure in a number of areas, such as making sure important files and directories have the right settings. It can also change some settings directly, such as the table prefix of your database and the default admin user name (which is “admin”).

It can also hide the version of WordPress you are using, and it walks you through why adding an .htaccess file to the wp-admin folder will make the website more secure.

WP Security Scan53

WP Security Scan: Information54 | Download55

Notes And Messaging

18. Private Messages For WordPress

Adds a simple messaging system that allows users to send messages to each other through your website. You can set the number of messages a user group may have or remove its access altogether. A good way to communicate with staff or visitors.

Private Messages For WordPress56

Private Messages For WordPress: Information81605726 | Download58

19. Dashboard Notepad

Adds a simple dashboard widget to the home page of your admin area. You can specify which user groups can see the widget and which user groups can edit it.

Dashboard Notepad59

Dashboard Notepad: Information81605726 | Download61

User Management

20. User Spam Remover

Useful for anyone who has had a problem with registration spam. The plugin automatically deletes spam registrations and accounts that have never been used. You can set the threshold for how many days an account has to be inactive before it is deleted. This prevents legitimate accounts from being deleted.

User Spam Remover62

User Spam Remover: Information63 | Download64

21. WP CMS Post Control

This hides certain controls from user groups. Core functions such as auto-save, revisions and the Flash uploader can be disabled, and you can limit revisions, too. It works similar to Adminimize6521 but is much simpler to use (Adminimize can overwhelm you with options).

WP CMS Post Control66

WP CMS Post Control: Information and download67

22. User Role Editor

One of the most popular role capabilities plugins for WordPress. User Role Editor lets you change the capabilities of each user group. This is useful for restricting what certain user groups can do or for giving them additional responsibilities (for example, by default contributors aren’t allowed to upload images). You can also override the capabilities defined for user groups and change the capabilities of users individually.

User Role Editor68

User Role Editor: Information69 | Download70

23. Members

Similar to User Role Editor, Members comes with a great role manager feature that lets you control what user groups and individual users can and cannot do. It has additional features such as restricting what users can view in a post and making your website and your feed private.

Members71

Members: Information and download72

24. ThreeWP Activity Monitor

Allows you to track all activity on your website. The plugin shows successful and failed log-ins for users, content that has been updated, changed passwords and much more. Any time your WordPress database is updated in some way, this plugin will show exactly what has occurred.

ThreeWP Activity Monitor73

ThreeWP Activity Monitor: Information and download74

Database Management

25. Portable phpMyAdmin

Portable phpMyAdmin9875 lets you access phpMyAdmin directly through the admin area. You don’t need to enter any log-in details, making it a quicker way to manage your database than logging into your host’s control panel. Very useful.

Portable phpMyAdmin76

Portable phpMyAdmin: Information77 | Download78

26. WP-DBManager

WP-DBManager79 is a functional database manager that gives you information on your WordPress database. It also lets you back up the database, optimize it, repair it, run queries and more. It’s geared more to those who aren’t familiar or comfortable with Portable phpMyAdmin.

WP-DBManager80

WP-DBManager: Information81605726 | Download82

SEO

27. All in One SEO Pack

All in One SEO Pack83 is an easy-to-use SEO solution that works out of the box. It supports custom post types, generates meta tags and optimizes your titles for search engines.

All in One SEO Pack84

All in One SEO Pack: Information85 | Download86

28. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast87 is a feature-rich SEO plugin that lets you adjust page titles, change indexation rules and build an XML site map. It also adds breadcrumbs to your posts in order to improve navigation and SEO.

WordPress SEO by Yoast88

WordPress SEO by Yoast: Information89 | Download90

Speed And Performance

29. W3 Total Cache

Recommended by most hosting companies and used by many large blogs, W3 Total Cache91 is one of the best ways to cache your pages and speed the performance of your website. It works well with content delivery networks such as MaxCDN, too.

W3 Total Cache92

W3 Total Cache: Information and download93

30. WP Super Cache

A popular caching plugin that serves static HTML files to the majority of your users. It’s a lot easier to set up than W3 Total Cache, in part due to the option to simply enable caching and use the default settings.

WP Super Cache94

WP Super Cache: Information95 | Download96

Summary

The great thing about WordPress is that the default installation doesn’t overwhelm you with options (although some would prefer it to be even simpler). This approach allows us to choose the plugins that contribute to our particular needs and disregard those that don’t.

You might find that some of these plugins can be disabled after you use them. For example, after using User Spam Remover97 I disabled registration on my website, so I no longer need it. Likewise, I activate Portable phpMyAdmin9875 only when I need to modify my database, and thus it is deactivated most of the time. I recommend reviewing your situation every month or so and remove any plugins that aren’t being used regularly.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of useful admin plugins. If your favourite admin plugin didn’t make the list, please feel free to share it with other Smashing Magazine readers in the comments area.

(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/
  2. 2 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/editorial-calendar/
  3. 3 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/editorial-calendar/
  4. 4 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/editorial-calendar/
  5. 5 http://www.zackgrossbart.com/extras/sandbox/wp-admin/edit.php?page=cal
  6. 6 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/peters-collaboration-e-mails/
  7. 7 http://www.theblog.ca/wordpress-collaboration-emails
  8. 8 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/peters-collaboration-e-mails/
  9. 9 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/peters-post-notes/
  10. 10 http://www.theblog.ca/wordpress-post-notes
  11. 11 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/peters-post-notes/
  12. 12 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/content-audit/
  13. 13 http://sillybean.net/code/wordpress/content-audit/
  14. 14 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/content-audit/
  15. 15 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/edit-flow/
  16. 16 http://editflow.org/
  17. 17 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/edit-flow/
  18. 18 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-document-revisions/
  19. 19 http://ben.balter.com/2011/08/29/wp-document-revisions-document-management-version-control-wordpress/
  20. 20 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-document-revisions/
  21. 21 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/adminimize/
  22. 22 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/adminimize/
  23. 23 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/adminimize/
  24. 24 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/codepress-admin-columns/
  25. 25 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/codepress-admin-columns/
  26. 26
  27. 27 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/codepress-admin-columns/
  28. 28 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/admin-management-xtended/
  29. 29 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/admin-management-xtended/
  30. 30 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/dp-tweaks/
  31. 31 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-tweaks/
  32. 32 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-tweaks/
  33. 33 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-admin-bar-improved/
  34. 34 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-admin-bar-improved/
  35. 35 http://codex.wordpress.org/Post_Formats
  36. 36 http://alexking.org/blog/2011/10/25/wordpress-post-formats-admin-ui
  37. 37 http://alexking.org/blog/2011/10/25/wordpress-post-formats-admin-ui
  38. 38 https://github.com/crowdfavorite/wp-post-formats
  39. 39 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/audit-trail/
  40. 40 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/audit-trail/
  41. 41 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/custom-admin-branding/
  42. 42 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/custom-admin-branding/
  43. 43 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/fluency-admin/
  44. 44 http://fortysevenrobots.com/wordpress/fluency-admin/
  45. 45 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/fluency-admin/
  46. 46 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/login-lockdown/
  47. 47 http://www.bad-neighborhood.com/login-lockdown.html
  48. 48 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/login-lockdown/
  49. 49 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/secure-wordpress/
  50. 50 http://www.websitedefender.com/
  51. 51 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/secure-wordpress/
  52. 52 http://www.websitedefender.com/
  53. 53 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-security-scan/
  54. 54 http://www.websitedefender.com/
  55. 55 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-security-scan/
  56. 56 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/private-messages-for-wordpress/
  57. 57
  58. 58 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/private-messages-for-wordpress/
  59. 59 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/dashboard-notepad/
  60. 60
  61. 61 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/dashboard-notepad/
  62. 62 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/user-spam-remover/
  63. 63 http://lyncd.com/user-spam-remover/
  64. 64 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/user-spam-remover/
  65. 65 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/adminimize/
  66. 66 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-cms-post-control/
  67. 67 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-cms-post-control/
  68. 68 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/user-role-editor/
  69. 69 http://www.shinephp.com/user-role-editor-wordpress-plugin/
  70. 70 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/user-role-editor/
  71. 71 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/members/
  72. 72 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/members/
  73. 73 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/threewp-activity-monitor/
  74. 74 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/threewp-activity-monitor/
  75. 75 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/portable-phpmyadmin/
  76. 76 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/portable-phpmyadmin/
  77. 77 http://getbutterfly.com/wordpress-plugins/portable-phpmyadmin/
  78. 78 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/portable-phpmyadmin/
  79. 79 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-dbmanager/
  80. 80 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-dbmanager/
  81. 81
  82. 82 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-dbmanager/
  83. 83 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
  84. 84 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
  85. 85 http://semperfiwebdesign.com/wordpress-plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
  86. 86 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
  87. 87 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-seo/
  88. 88 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-seo/
  89. 89 http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/
  90. 90 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-seo/
  91. 91 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/
  92. 92 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/
  93. 93 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/
  94. 94 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/
  95. 95 http://ocaoimh.ie/wp-super-cache/
  96. 96 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/
  97. 97 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/user-spam-remover/
  98. 98 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/portable-phpmyadmin/

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Kevin Muldoon is a Scottish webmaster and blogger who currently lives in South America. His labour of love is WordPress Mods; a blog which focuses on WordPress Themes, Plugins, Tutorials, News, Modifications.

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  1. 1

    2 plugins I’m using on all projects are becoming very useful in speeding up the back-end customisation:

    My own CMS Functions plugin and Admin Quick Jump:

    • 2

      I just installed Admin Quick Jump. Looks very useful. Going to try it out for a few days while writing posts etc to see how much time it saves me. Good tip :)

  2. 3

    A security plugin that I use with great success and is avidly supported by the author: Bulletproof Security available in WP Plugins:
    I wouldn’t put up a WP site without it and it works great with multisite installs.

    • 4

      Bulletproof Security is a great plugin. After testing all your settings you can deactivate it too.

  3. 5

    Paul Aaron Travis

    March 20, 2012 7:48 pm

    Thanks for this collection, Kevin. I was looking for something like “Audit Trail” and appreciate your bringing it to the surface!

  4. 6

    I use W3 Total Cache works fine but sometimes diffcult to configure but once configured, it is worth the time. All other plugins you mentioned regarding admin menu is very useful. Really great post. Smashing Magazine never disppoints.

  5. 7

    amazing!

  6. 8

    a precious & deep article on admin tools thank you !!!

  7. 9

    just to save time to some other people..
    plugin number 13, custom admin branding is broken, definitely not working.

  8. 10

    Does anyone know of a plugin that allows me to manage my posts and pages better.. For example i have seen a control panel that has a button that says Communities and one that says Testimonials.. for example it takes all the post and or pages from the post general section and allows you to make and view pages on just Communites alone… so bottom line I need a plugin that will pull up just my community pages when I click it without the need to use the filter.

  9. 11

    Today Google Update Penguin which available from April 24, 2012
    Suggest that Quality Back-links Means The associated Inbound
    links which based on your Website constant. So look at the Google search-tab and also
    your targeted back-links name like Forums, Blogs Business Directory etc.
    Very interesting and extremely useful helpful!
    Look into my weblog On site SEO

  10. 12

    Thanks Kevin Muldoon …
    These are he plugins which I was searching. I saw lot of websites for best plugins information but all were about simple plugins. Your post is really about unique collection. I like it and bookmark it. I do not comments on any websites but now couldn’t control on myself to comment on your post. Thank you very much.

  11. 13

    Great collection of very useful plugins. Good work!

  12. 14

    This is a great list; thanks for sharing. Do you know of free or premium plugins that allow you to manage payments of subscribers?

    I am going to create a pay-to-post system and would like to keep track of subscribers who pay in advance. Please advise.

    Thank you.

  13. 15

    Thanks a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually recognize what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also consult with my website =). We could have a hyperlink exchange arrangement between us

  14. 16

    It’s an awesome piece of writing in favor of all the internet people; they will get benefit from it I am sure.

  15. 17

    Great WordPress articel! I will with no doubt use a handfull of these wordpress plugins for future developement at Orango

  16. 18

    Very rapidly this web site will be famous among all blogging and site-building
    users, due to it’s fastidious articles

  17. 19

    Thanks for the Free Research. Saves a lot of readers a lot of Time and Energy. It’s easy to find information here than to scan from thousands of plugins from the wordpress directory. Keep up the good work.

  18. 20

    I’ve been on the net now for about six today, and once I came across smashingmagazine.com on http://wp.smashingmagazine.com/2012/03/15/useful-free-admin-plugins-wordpress/, I was very happy to.. In my view, if all web site entrepreneurs and blog writers created top notch information as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than at any time earlier.

    Here is my web site: where to sell gold

  19. 21

    It’s very straightforward to find out any topic on web as compared to books, as I found this paragraph at this web page.

  20. 22

    Thanks, this is very usefull, love some plugins

  21. 23

    Very comprehensive, loved it. Thanks!

    PS: Do you know some plugin to hide drafts from the list of posts? My own drafts… I have to many, is a nightmare.

    Thanks again!

  22. 24

    Thanks this is just one of those ‘candy shop’ articles!

  23. 25

    Can anyone tell me how to insert the pluggin:

    Follow the usual plugin installation steps: either it is automatic or extract the zip file, transfer the files to your blog’s /wp-admin/plugins/ directory.

    Where will this be on my blog?

  24. 26

    Do you know of a wordpress plugin that will allow register user to upload file – audio, video, doc., pdf etc – from front end

  25. 27

    Awesome list! Just wanted to add a premium plugin to the list that does that little bit extra: Captain Admin

  26. 28

    everything I was lookin for in one article! perfect! thank you!

  27. 29

    Hey there! great post men, i’ve found a lot of what i was looking for in here.
    Does anyone knows about a plugin as the “private message” but in which I, as admin, can get access to the messages being sent by my contributors? thanks a lot!

  28. 30

    Nice list! FYI, another plugin addressed exclusively to administrators is Slash Admin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/slash-admin/) which groups together a lot of functions that an admin might need in various occasions.

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