For years, I taught thousands of people the basics of WordPress, both online and in-person. Many of these classes were for anyone just starting with WordPress, or even considering it. Over time, I would regularly tweak what I taught based on the pain points I would hear from these new users time and time again.
One that persisted was:
How do I find my settings menu once I have activated a new plugin?
Now the experienced user may have already worked out their own method for that discovery. For example, most times a plugin is activated, you can go to the plugin page and find a link to the settings.
But going to this page all the time and scrolling down to find the plugin isn’t exactly convenient. The truth is that we should be able to find them easily in the WordPress dashboard menu. But there is really no method that is apparent to the casual user (or maybe even the experienced user).
I remember in my workshops I would have this screenshot to show them where various plugin settings landed. Sometimes you could see them in the menu easily, if you scrolled up and down. Other times they dropped in under Settings for Tools. But there were other spots too. Some tried to group them under a setting where they thought it made the most sense.
Since I have several plugins on my site, let me show you where I am finding the settings. On the main menu, there are a few scattered around and some are nestled nicely at the bottom, where logically you might think something added on would end up.
Under Media, I will find another one. As I mentioned, this makes sense as it pertains directly to the media.
Then there are a few under Appearance.
And several found their way into Settings.
And lastly, three of them repeated themselves, for convenience, with a dropdown in the top admin menu.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not criticizing any of these plugins. In fact, I love them all or they wouldn’t be on my site. But if they were all to end up in the main sidebar, well, that could make one amazingly long sucker, depending on how many plugins you are using.
In any case, it boils down to one thing: people would just like to know where they are.
So a few days ago I noticed a tweet about a new plugin. Something that solves this problem, at least initially.
Show Plugin Menu Items on Activation
What this plugin does is point out where you are going to find those settings upon activation of the plugin.
For example, if I activate a plugin that lands right in the menu, this is what I will see:
Now if you activate a plugin and either:
- The plugin has no settings and doesn’t create a menu item, or
- There is an extension or add-on that has settings within the original plugin and wouldn’t create a menu item
You get this message:
And if you activate several plugins, you will get this message:
I have to be honest here. Initially when adding plugins, you typically don’t activate several at once with the fear of a site explosion. The only time you may do this is if you have deactivated existing plugins for some troubleshooting and decide to activate them again, all at once. Then you certainly don’t need to be reminded about numerous menu items.
I think this is a good start in helping beginners keep track of where these plugin settings are landing. Of course, you will need to remember where they are, but at least you have some guidance. It will be interesting to see if this ever lands in core and becomes something that is built into WordPress. On the other hand, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would careless about this or just find it another distraction. So at this point in time, this plugin is a good solution.
It’s free, so check out the Show Plugin Menu Items on Activation Plugin. And you know what’s kind of funny? Ironically this plugin has no settings, so you don’t have to hunt for them in the menu when you activate it.