How To Use the User Switching Plugin in WordPress

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

Here at PublishPress, we rely heavily on the User Switching plugin. This allows us to browse our site and see exactly what the user sees. User Switching is enormously helpful 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.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use the User Switching plugin.


Step #1. Install the User Switching Plugin

  • Click Plugins > Add new.
  • Type “user switching” in the search box.
  • Click Install Now.
  • Click Activate.
User Switching plugin installation

Step #2. Create Users

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:

Let's add one example

  • 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

Step #3. Test Users with the User Switching plugin

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

  • Hover your cursor over the user with the Editor role.
  • Click Switch To.
Switch to WordPress users thanks to the User Switching plugin

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 link below the title. There is a similar link under the profile picture on the top right of the screen.

Switch back to users thanks to the User Switching plugin

Now that you've tested the Editor 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.

The Posts screen in WordPress as a Contributor
  • Switch to the Editor role.

Take a look at the “Posts” screen again. You will notice that you are allowed to check and even edit the Contributor posts. The Editor role is far more powerful in WordPress than the Contributor role.

the Posts screen in WordPress as an Editor

You can integrate the User Switching Plugin with the PublishPress Capabilities plugin to create more complex user and permission workflows and gain valuable time during the development process of your site. 


Summary

We find the User Switching plugin 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.


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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