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What’s Coming in WordPress 4.2 (Features and Screenshots)

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After the release of WordPress 4.1, the development of the next major release started in full swing. WordPress 4.2 will be the first major release of 2015, and it is planned to be released by end of April. There are a lot of exciting things happening around it. In this article, we will show you what’s coming in WordPress 4.2 with features and screenshots.

You can try out the beta version on your computer or on a staging environment by using the WordPress Beta Tester plugin.

WordPress 4.2

New and Improved Emoji Support

Do you use Emoji’s in your text messages, facebook statuses, etc? Well, now you can use it in your WordPress blog posts as well.

Emojis are cool and fun way to express your feelings in a text-based communication. WordPress had basic emoticons for a long time, and even though it was possible for users to add emoji support to WordPress, it was not supported by the core.

With WordPress 4.2 your WordPress sites will have built-in emoji support. If you are using a mobile device, you can easily add emojis to your posts, comments, categories, and in most places where you can write text. This includes post slugs as well.

Native support for emojis in WordPress 4.2

Update: We realized that a lot of users weren’t as excited about Emojis and would have preferred other features. We wanted to highlight that Emoji support came out from the underlying work that had to be done to improve WordPress database and make it possible to use Han characters (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc) natively in WordPress.

As you can imagine, this is a huge thing for a large population of the world.

Switching Theme in Customizer

WordPress 4.2 will bring improvements to the way you install, browse, and preview themes using the WordPress customizer. You will now be able to switch, preview, and activate themes from the theme customizer screen.

Theme switcher in WordPress 4.2

You can also click on the ‘Add New’ button to browse and install new themes.

Faster Plugin Installation and Updates

Plugin installation will be streamlined in WordPress 4.2. Now users will be able to install plugins directly from the ‘Add New Plugin’ or search results.

Faster plugin installation in WordPress 4.2

Plugins will not only be installed, but they will also be activated. This will reduce one step and two page loads from the plugin installation process.

If you want to install a plugin and not activate it, then you will have to go back to Installed Plugins screen and deactivate the plugin.

Same goes for the updates, users will be able to update plugins from the Installed Plugins screen without leaving the page.

New and Improved Press This Button

Press This is a little-known tool in WordPress that is gaining a rebirth in WordPress 4.2. There are two major improvements.

Press This in WordPress 4.2

The first one is the bookmarklet that you can drag and drop to your browser’s bookmarks bar. Simply click on the Press This bookmark when you want to post about a topic you are viewing on the web. It will open your WordPress post editor inside a popup, and it will automatically fetch the page title, image, and an excerpt from the page with a link back to the original source.

Press This popup in the upcoming WordPress 4.2

You can use it anywhere on the web. If you are on an oEmbed enabled site like YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, Instagram, then it will automatically fetch the embed code as well.

The second Press This tool is a simple link which you can open in your mobile browser and add it to your home screen / bookmark it.

Adding Press This to your Home Screen in mobile devices

Under The Hood Improvements

There are some minor changes in the default color scheme for the WordPress admin area. (#31234)

Shared terms across different taxonomies will now split when one of them is updated. This will resolve the issue of shared terms showing updates from different taxonomies. (#5809)

New feature in wp.a11y.speak() function will allow screen readers to be able to read response generated by JavaScript. (#31368)

We hope this article gave you a glimpse of what’s coming in WordPress 4.2. Let us know which features you are excited about, and what you would like to see in the future release of WordPress?

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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55 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Ron says

    As mentioned by others, there are usability issues with core components in WP that should have been addressed a long time ago. For instance, running a WP site for photography and having to deal with the `media library´ is a nuisance.

    A library is supposed to be more than just a slowly loading bucket with items, where filtering is limited to months. Having to rely on third party plugins for categories and tags is just plain silly.

    It´s almost as if showing images on a website is a new thing :-(

    When I read “WordPress 4.2 is coming with some great new features…” I was curious to see those… Honestly, I am not impressed.

  3. Michael says

    The only thing good on this release is the plugin and theme install one step now. These Emoji things or smilies do not even make me interested at all. Are they popular? First time I heard of these. Well, I don’t have a smart phone. So I guess that is why. Still don’t know how these look cool. I have not like smilies that much anyways. Whatever, but this hardly any features added per release, kind of makes me not to look forward to the next release. Two features, and minor fixes.

    It seems that wants to add less each release. The more the plugins and themes need to be updated for unnecessary release, since hardly features are being added. Two features per release and maybe two total releases a year would be better, unless they start adding up to 5 features per release. Just does not make WordPress more interesting with less features.

    I think they worry more about fixes and bugs more than what people need for their blog or website. Reminds me of World Golf Tour. They hardly add any worth while features either to their game.

    What really bugs me is there is more plugins to add to WordPress, than there is any of the plugins features added to the Core of WordPress. Themes that are bought on Themeforest are better than what the Core of WordPress offers. WordPress is just the soul and the theme are the body of WordPress, since there are not much features into the Core.

    You get more out of the themes than WordPress offers. You would think with more features added and less plugins, you would have a speedier website. Less resources used. Too many plugins slows the website, and uses more requests and resources on the server.

  4. John says

    Making changes in the admin process has cost me time and frustration. Background image and header image in last update were moved to some customizer window that I normally would never touch and the work flow there is MORE than the old screens. If it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT!!

    The last bunch of core themes were useless as parent themes. We are still building custom child themes on twentytwelve which was the last theme that was about useability. We have maybe 300 sites just modifications of 2012.

  5. Brandon Kraft says

    One thing the article didn’t mentioned is while emoji sounds fancy and cool, the real meat behind the enhancement is the underlying work that had to be done to support it within the WP database.

    The underlying work makes it possible to use Han characters (Chinese, Japanese, Koren, etc) natively in WordPress, which is a huge thing for a large population of the world. I wrote a little about it at

    And, whether we like it or not, emoji is increasingly becoming part of the Internet lexicon and it is a standardized character set.

    Full disclosure: Work for Automattic, but on my free time, contributed to both the Press This revamp and the emoji work.

  6. Nitin says

    definitely it would be the big release of wordpress. Actually, the new features you discussed here will be great to use. As, emoji feature I like the most because it may help to attract visitors to the blog. Thanks for updating us with such great news. Waiting for its release.

  7. vanessa says

    I’d like to see an integrated connection between adding images to widget and not having to go into the media library copy and paste the code path in order to add the image to the sidebar. Adding an image to a sidebar widget should be ‘add image-direct to media library and choose’. It was save a clunky system. Also stricter about updating themes that have faults and some of the nicest designs have faults and vital elements don’t work.

    • Piet says

      There is an image widget that does that, works perfect, has been around for years and is actively supported.

  8. Bart Kennes says

    What WordPress needs are different add-ons for the basic features that are missing in the core at the moment.

    Add-ons that are :

    * simple to install and activate
    * with automatic updates
    * and constant improving and evolving

    A little bit like the Jetpack plug-in, but then MUCH better.

    All the other things should remain plugins. But when a plugin becomes an industry standard, it could/should become an add-on. And when it’s time, an add-on could/should be integrated into the core.

  9. Ken Eastwood says

    Agree with comments about the media library – long overdue.

    Security improvements would be welcome too.

  10. Lahiru says

    Not impressed. WordPress should have taken steps to work on there security bugs rather they focus on bells and whistles.. Worst CMS when it comes to security

    • Joe says

      Worst CMS when it comes to security

      WordPress core itself hasn’t had a major security problem in a long time. WordPress plugins and themes, however, run the gamut of security problems. It’s pretty naive to blame the core software for security problems caused by third-party add-ons. It’s helpful to know what you’re talking about.

    • Ansel Taft says

      I think you’re confusing security holes in third-party developers’ plugins and themes with WordPress core. It’s the ‘worst CMS when it comes to security’ because it’s the largest and most tested target. Cheers

  11. Salocin.TEN says

    Honestly not quite an impressive upgrade.

    For business purposes of WordPress, emojis are practically useless.

    Also for WordPress development, the one-step plugin install can be dangerous. Where I work, we have implemented an “install but DO NOT activate” policy which everyone has to adhere, due to the problem of sites showing strange defects or even “dying” (white screen of death) whenever a plugin just gets activated, and it is hard to get a log of who activated what.

    Which brings me to another much needed item: More extensive logging.
    Like said before, it is hard to determine who activated themes / plugins. For page and post editing it is easy to find out from the revisions feature, but there is no such thing for other activities on the site.
    Other frameworks have activity logging built into the core and logs everything without module developers even having to enable logging.

      • Joe says

        fwiw, the installation feature has been removed from 4.2. The activation concerns weren’t well-addressed so it was pulled in beta 3.

  12. jgl says

    For one I would like to see milti networks for multisites as part of the core development so that it is tightly integrated. My 2 cents.

      • Bart Kennes says

        yes, WPML is a great plugin and should stay a plugin.
        Maybe it’s time to step up the collaboration between automatic and WPML so it’s easier to integrate and update

  13. Dave Navarro says

    I think the primary problem with WordPress updates is that what gets done is what volunteer developers themselves are willing to do. A developer was willing to work on Emojis, but not security… The system itself is flawed.

    So, a new version is released and then a leader is chosen for the next version, that leader gets together the developers who are actually available and willing to work on their favorite feature. The things that are actually NEEDED are ignored because no developers want to work on those things.

    Where is the roadmap? Where is finding devs willing to work on what is actually needed rather than what their pet projects are? Where are the project leaders for features that will be available in future versions that are not the NEXT version?

    I think the only ongoing project for future release is the JSON group. Where are the other groups?

    As they say… The “lunatics are running the asylum”. A few people are running the WordPress development process and nothing of note is being done as a result.

    • Psozo says

      Yeah but you have no idea what security fixes, if any, have been fixed. Why would they announce security fixes to the public? it will not make sense to publicly announce with detail security fixes while 4.1 is still being used.

    • Joe says

      I agree with you on there being no clear roadmap. And it’s true that features getting worked on are largely at the whim of willing and qualified developers.

      there’s a list on the core development site with all of the active feature plugins currently being developed:

      I for one think users should have a more substantial say in what goes into a future release, whether that be through surveys or whathaveyou.

  14. Tom Kiser says

    WOW some good things but like most says very disappointed that a few things were not addressed. *shrugs* Ole well maybe one day they will be.

  15. Jeremy Tarrier says

    Y-A-W-N … what a lot of wasted effort. This is all well and good but it’s only window dressing. They should have spent time doing really helpful stuff such as enabling user defined directories/subdirectories in the media library.

    Overall a very disappointing “upgrade”

    • Dave Navarro says

      The “Album/Gallery” metaphor used in NextGen and other image plugins is what we need.

      I run several dozen WordPress sites for news outlets with tens of thousands of images and the inability for users to browse categories is exasperating.

      • Dave LeBlanc says

        Agreed. I manage a fashion site and it’s a constant challenge to keep styles and seasons organized.

    • Gebakken Ei says

      This! There is a plugin that gives categories for images, but its a premium/paid one.

      Beter user/permission manager would be my seconden one.

    • Bart Kennes says

      User defined directories/subdirectories ?

      Off course !
      That should have been in WP three versions ago !

    • Bart says


      I think we should start a petition to have user defined directories/subdirectories in WP 4.3

      Kind regards,

  16. Jeremy says

    I’d like to see Automattic integrate robust modules that are common features in web design, such as contact forms, eCommerce, and image galleries. I think these things would be worthy of a new release. These modules should be able to be activated or disabled via the admin panel.

    Basic features like these shouldn’t rely on third party plugins – especially if WordPress is trying to move forward as a full blown development platform.

    • Kote Shengelia says

      Contact forms OK (though it’s provided by Jetpack which is bundled with WordPress), but how is eCommerce a basic feature and how having online shop will help be more flexible platform for developers?

    • Bart Kennes says

      Spot on !
      Basic features shouldn’t rely on third party plugins !
      Shame on you Automatic

      I shouldn’t say eCommerce is basic, but so many others things are !

    • DeBAAT says

      Tend to disagree. As soon as you should disable a feature, it should not be part of core. That’s the main and best reason for the support of plugins.
      As far as third party plugins, there is nothing wrong with third parties. They also come in different flavours varying from crappy to fully reliable, comparable with core development.

    • Joe says

      I’d like to see Automattic integrate robust modules that are common features in web design, such as contact forms, eCommerce, and image galleries. I think these things would be worthy of a new release. These modules should be able to be activated or disabled via the admin panel.

      Automattic does have a lot of that, it’s in their Jetpack plugin. Automattic doesn’t run the open source project … they run a hosted service on And they also don’t govern the future of WordPress. They may donate employee time to working on the core software but Automattic doesn’t own WordPress.

  17. Mitchell Miller says

    I agree with previous comment: emojis should be a plugin.

    Do not understand automatic plugin download AND activation.

    Few WP users have test sites.
    Would you activate a new plugin on a live site?

    • Joe says

      I agree with previous comment: emojis should be a plugin.

      To be fair, 4.2 doesn’t add emoji to WordPress, it just adds the ability for WordPress to display emoji. It’s an important distinction worth making.

  18. Peter Shaw says

    Press this and emojis should be plugins.

    The customiser stuff is nice and clearly the start of using that for all sorts of stuff and the taxonomy stuff is important (but only as a step to fixing the whole taxonomy setup).

    Unfortunately there is nothing in this release that is ging to set the world on fire…

    • Adrienne says

      Totally agree on this… Why would you just activate a plugin…there could be compatibility issues, and I like to make sure everything is going well before I add another plugin into the mix.

  19. Gulshan says

    I want to see a best upcoming WordPress Version. I dont want to compermize with Visitors Experience, performance of website. Once if visit my blog, I wish they must think- Woww.. what a nice blog…. :) Such a experience I need from latest version of WordPress.
    1. WordPress Dashboard loading slow due to heavy unminified JavaScript and CSS, There should be a inbuilt function or api key method to minify all those static resources. Also, Need a header cache expiration setting.
    2. After Installing SSL, a common problem people face, Some elements are not secure. So I in one click to change in HTTPS. Due to this problem I hate taking headache of Installing SSL.
    3. A light-weight Rich Text editor, like MS-Word. I don’t want to use plugin like Tiny MCE.
    4. This is off the topic, but if possible, I want a best solution for serving static resources from cookie-less subdomain.

    • Chris says

      Your number 1 problem is caused by using bad plugins, the clean install wp is fast and responsive no problem, because there is such functions for the developers, also there is a way to autominify and compress a plugin called minify-something cant remember right now but its rather cool, still only works if the developer used the wp-api for loading css/js

  20. Donna Fontenot says

    I usually prefer to leave positive comments, but it’s hard to be excited about any of these upcoming features and changes. None of them strike me as anything important enough to spend time on. Press This has been around forever and is rarely used. Emojis? Yeah, that’s gonna make everyone’s life so much better. Whatever. Shave a second off of installing plugins. Ok. Switch themes via customizer? Yeah’ll we’ll use that once a year maybe. I know, I know. Instead of complaining, I could be contributing. I get that. Still…it’s difficult to get excited about this release. *yawn*…

    • Frank says

      I highly prefer these incremental and stable updates than perpetual attempts to reinvent the wheel. The problem when you make too much of a dramatic change is the likelihood of it breaking a lot of themes and plugins, many of which would need to adapt to these changes, and sometimes they never do. It can be a headache and take precious time and energy away from content creation.

      As for Press This, I’ve always wanted to see WordPress develop a bookmarklet that was on par with Tumblr’s bookmarklets. Tumblr’s is so easy to use that curating content is a breeze, but Press This never measured up. I’m hoping it will with this new update. :)

    • Grant Palin says

      To be fair it is reasonable for the team to limit the scope of each major release so it is manageable and to minimize chance of breakage. Incremental releases = slow and steady. Not every release has something for everyone.

      The one thing I like in 4.2 is the progress on the taxonomy roadmap, which supposedly culminates in us being able to easily add taxonomy metadata. What I’d like to see in a not-too-far-future release is native post relationships and a official post format UI.

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