WordPress User Roles and Permissions Beginner’s Guide

POSTED July 23, 2020 IN:

WordPress User Roles and Permissions

If you’re the only person running your website, you’ve probably never had to think about WordPress user roles. However, if you ever need to give other people access to your WordPress site, WordPress user roles are essential for controlling what actions the various users at your site are permitted to take.

WordPress uses a concept of Roles, designed to give the site owner the ability to control what users can and cannot do within the site. A site owner can manage the user access to such tasks as writing and editing posts, creating Pages, creating categories, moderating comments, managing plugins, managing themes, and managing other users, by assigning a specific role to each of the users.

WordPress has six pre-defined roles:

  • Super Admin,
  • Administrator,
  • Editor,
  • Author,
  • Contributor and
  • Subscriber

Each role is allowed to perform a set of tasks called Capabilities.

There are many capabilities including “publish_posts“, “moderate_comments“, and “edit_users“. The Super Admin role allows a user to perform all possible capabilities. Each of the other roles has a decreasing number of allowed capabilities. For instance, the Subscriber role has just the “read” capability. One particular role should not be considered to be senior to another role. Rather, consider that roles define the user’s responsibilities within the site.


Capability vs. Role Table

Capability Super Admin Administrator Editor Author Contributor Subscriber
create_sites Y
delete_sites Y
manage_network Y
manage_sites Y
manage_network_users Y
manage_network_plugins Y
manage_network_themes Y
manage_network_options Y
upload_plugins Y
upload_themes Y
upgrade_network Y
setup_network Y
Capability Super Admin Administrator Editor Author Contributor Subscriber
activate_plugins Y Y (single site or enabled by network setting)
create_users Y Y (single site)
delete_plugins Y Y (single site)
delete_themes Y Y (single site)
delete_users Y Y (single site)
edit_files Y Y (single site)
edit_plugins Y Y (single site)
edit_theme_options Y Y
edit_themes Y Y (single site)
edit_users Y Y (single site)
export Y Y
import Y Y
install_plugins Y Y (single site)
install_themes Y Y (single site)
list_users Y Y
manage_options Y Y
promote_users Y Y
remove_users Y Y
switch_themes Y Y
update_core Y Y (single site)
update_plugins Y Y (single site)
update_themes Y Y (single site)
edit_dashboard Y Y
customize Y Y
delete_site Y Y
Capability Super Admin Administrator Editor Author Contributor Subscriber
moderate_comments Y Y Y
manage_categories Y Y Y
manage_links Y Y Y
edit_others_posts Y Y Y
edit_pages Y Y Y
edit_others_pages Y Y Y
edit_published_pages Y Y Y
publish_pages Y Y Y
delete_pages Y Y Y
delete_others_pages Y Y Y
delete_published_pages Y Y Y
delete_others_posts Y Y Y
delete_private_posts Y Y Y
edit_private_posts Y Y Y
read_private_posts Y Y Y
delete_private_pages Y Y Y
edit_private_pages Y Y Y
read_private_pages Y Y Y
unfiltered_html Y Y (single site) Y (single site)
unfiltered_html Y Y Y
Capability Super Admin Administrator Editor Author Contributor Subscriber
edit_published_posts Y Y Y Y
upload_files Y Y Y Y
publish_posts Y Y Y Y
delete_published_posts Y Y Y Y
edit_posts Y Y Y Y Y
delete_posts Y Y Y Y Y
Capability Super Admin Administrator Editor Author Contributor Subscriber
read Y Y Y Y Y Y