How to Disable Gutenberg & Return to the Classic WordPress Editor

Gutenberg will be released with WordPress 5.0. The release date is still unknown, but once it's released, your site will automatically be updated to start using Gutenberg.

WordPress 5.0 will include many other features, aside from just the new Gutenberg editor. I always encourage people to keep WordPress up-to-date by installing the latest version, but I know that some folks won't be ready to learn a completely new WordPress editor. And that's perfectly fine.

WordPress makes it easy to disable Gutenberg and return to using the classic editor (aka: TinyMCE). First, you'll need to install & activate the Classic Editor plugin. After that, let's walk through a few different options you have.

Classic Editor restores the previous Edit Post screen and makes it possible to use the WordPress plugins that extend it, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor.


WordPress Classic Editor Plugin

When disabling Gutenberg, you have two different modes to choose from:

  • Always use the classic editor (completely removes Gutenberg)
  • Switch between Gutenberg & the classic editor (using different links)

Always Use Classic Editor

This is the default option. As soon as you activate the plugin, Gutenberg will be completely disabled. All of your post & page edit screens will look like they did in WordPress 4.9 and below. That's it! Happy editing 🙂

Switch Between Gutenberg & Classic Editor

If you want to be able to use both editing methods, perhaps during a transitional time where you're still learning Gutenberg, this is a great option.

  • Head over to Settings > Writing, and look for "Classic editor settings."
  • Check the box that says "Do not replace the editor."
  • Save Changes

Classic Editor mode setting
Choose "Do not replace the editor" if you want to use both Gutenberg & the classic editor interchangeably.

Now you have the option to use Gutenberg on some posts/pages, and the classic editor on others. Let me show you how.

How to edit with Gutenberg

To use Gutenberg, simply click on a post/page title, or the use the "Edit" link. Essentially, do the same thing you've always done to edit a post. Only now, you'll be taken to Gutenberg.

Gutenberg vs Classic Editor links

How to use the classic editor

To use the classic editor, you'll need to click the "Classic Editor" link instead (shown above in blue). This will take you to the previous TinyMCE editing experience you are already used to.

You'll also see a link to use the classic editor in your admin toolbar at the top of the Edit Post screen.

classic editor link in admin toolbar

Gutenberg is the future of WordPress, not only when editing posts & pages, but eventually, it will sit behind all edits you make to your WordPress site. Therefore, I highly encourage you to explore the Gutenberg interface and learn how to use it.

But for those who need to disable Gutenberg, I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

5 comments on How to Disable Gutenberg & Return to the Classic WordPress Editor
  1. When 5.0 comes out, Gutenberg will be a mandatory part of core, so when you update to 5.0 won’t that change everything on your site immediately? So, won’t that update force Gutenberg block-style on every page of your site, and it’s theme/layout/template, right out of the box immediately when you update? If this is the case (and how could it not be the case) it sounds like there could easily be many sites crashing or going to white screen once it is forced out.

    • Hi Lamont. That’s a really good question.

      When upgrading to 5.0, Gutenberg will be the default way of editing content. All of the existing content within the main content area will be converting to a Gutenberg Classic Block. When you’re ready to turn your classic block into the appropriate Gutenberg blocks, you can do so with the three-dot menu. Gutenberg will automatically turn headings into heading blocks, lists into list blocks, images into image blocks, etc.

      If your site uses a ton of meta boxes and custom fields, that is still up in the air as to what will happen. Gutenberg has yet to develop a good system for additional post content outside of the main editor.

      Here’s the official statement from WordPress on compatibility:

      “Posts are backwards compatible, and shortcodes will still work. We are continuously exploring how highly-tailored metaboxes can be accommodated, and are looking at solutions ranging from a plugin to disable Gutenberg to automatically detecting whether to load Gutenberg or not. While we want to make sure the new editing experience from writing to publishing is user-friendly, we’re committed to finding a good solution for highly-tailored existing sites.”

      If you install the Classic Editor plugin before you manually convert any of your content to blocks, you should be able to continue using the classic WordPress editor just as you always have.

  2. Thanks for the Classic Editor plugin. I have put hundreds (if not thousands of hours) into refining the look for my site(s). I tried the Gutenberg editor and it is NOT ready for prime time. I could not get an inline image to line up properly with the text or headline. When I put the image block in, it gives this weird layout of the text that is not true when the document is previewed. I really do not need this headache, I have enough other ones. Hopefully, I have to use Gutenberg at some point, I will get it figured out. But learning how to edit AGAIN in WP was not on my agenda. Not only that, but I do not like the search box for finding the elements to use. Just give me my Insert Shortcode button and get on with life.
    Again, THANKS for the ability to retain my sanity with the Classic Editor plugin. I just installed it and my blood pressure went back to normal.

Leave a Comment