User Switching in WordPress and Testing User Accounts

If you run a WordPress website with many users, you probably have to answer account questions or solve website bugs for your users.

Here at PublishPress, we rely heavily on the User Testing feature in the PublishPress Capabilities plugin. This allows us to browse our site and see exactly what the user sees. User Testing is an enormously helpful feature when we're solving support questions.

We can test the user's account without needing to reset their password or create a duplicate version of their account.

To follow this tutorial, make sure you have the PublishPress Capabilities plugin installed.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we will create one user in each WordPress role. In addition to “Administrator”, there are four more user roles: Subscribers, Contributors, Authors, Editors.

  • Click Users > Add New.
User Switching plugin - add new users to test
  • Add a user in the “Editor” role.
  • Click “Add New User”.
User Switching plugin - adding new users
  • Repeat this process for other WordPress roles.

At the end of this process, your screen should look like the image below.

User Switching plugin - list of users to test

Now that you have user accounts, you can test the User Switching plugin.

  • Hover your cursor over the user with the Author role.
  • Click “Test this user”.

The first thing you will notice is that the dashboard has changed. An Editor is not allowed to switch themes or install plugins, for example. They are not allowed to access the Users screen.

It is possible to switch back to the admin user, by clicking the “Return to Administrator” link below the title. There is a similar link under the profile picture on the top right of the screen.

Now that you've tested the Author role, it's time to test more roles.

  • Switch between other user roles.
  • Create one post per user role. 

For example, try creating content as Contributor. You will see a “Submit for Review” button instead of “Publish” (read about the difference between Draft and Pending Review). This is because Contributors are allowed to create but not publish content.

Creating content as a Contributor user

The Contributor role is not allowed to manage Tags or Categories so you won't see those menu links. You also won't be able to see content written by other users.


We find the User Testing feature to be an enormously helpful tool. If any PublishPress user has questions, we can see this site through their eyes. This enables us to quickly find problems that might not be obvious to us as administrators. Give PublishPress Capabilities a test today.

  • Jorge Montoya

    Jorge lived in Ecuador and Germany. Now he is back in his homeland of Colombia. He spends his time translating from English and German to Spanish. He loves to learn about open source technology.

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  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of PublishPress. He's been working with open source software for over 20 years. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. This profile is generated by the PublishPress Authors plugin.

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