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What’s New in WordPress 4.9

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WordPress 4.9 was released just few hours ago. It is the second and last major WordPress release of 2017 with some exciting new features and enhancements. In this article, we will show you what’s new in WordPress 4.9 and which features you should try after updating your websites.

What's new in WordPress 4.9

4.9 is a major WordPress release, and unless you are on a managed WordPress hosting service, you will have to manually initiate the update.

Important: Don’t forget to create a complete WordPress backup before starting the update.

New Theme Browsing Experience in The Customizer

WordPress 4.9 brings several improvements to the customizer. These changes offer a better user experience and a new set of tools for developers.

Previewing and changing themes directly from customizer is now more user friendly. You can view all your installed themes in the preview panel and click on the live preview button to load them in customizer.

Browsing themes in customizer

You can also browse and search themes and install them directly from customizer.

Install and preview themes directly from customizer

Save and Schedule Changes in The Customizer

WordPress 4.9 brings changesets to theme customizer. It is like post revisions but for your theme changes. You can store changes without applying them.

Save theme draft

This new feature also allows you to easily share a preview of those changes with anyone. Simply copy the preview URL and send it to any user. They will be able to see the new changes without login.

Share customizer changes preview

WordPress 4.9 also allows you to easily schedule theme changes to be automatically published later.

Schedule theme changes in customizer

Theme developers will now be able to use these new changes in the customizer JS API. These changes will allow them to add better controls, beautiful outer panels, and display notifications on screen.

Better notifications in customizer

New Gallery Widget in WordPress 4.9

WordPress 4.8 introduced new media widgets which included rich text, audio, image, and video. WordPress 4.9 builds up on that with the introduction of the new gallery widget.

This new widgets allows you to create a native WordPress gallery and add it to your WordPress sidebar or any widget ready areas.

New gallery widget in WordPress 4.9

Just like the native WordPress galleries, this widget is also limited in terms of functionality. If you want a more powerful gallery with albums, then you need to look at a third-party plugin like Envira Gallery.

Add Media Button in Text Widget

The text widget in WordPress 4.8 came with plain text and HTML tabs. However, if you wanted to add an image in sidebar text widget, then you still had to write the HTML code.

WordPress 4.9 has fixed this by adding the ‘Add Media’ button in the text widget. Now you can easily select or upload an image directly inside the text widget.

Add Media button in text widget

OEmbed Support Outside Post Content

Previously automatic embeds didn’t work in areas other than post content. With WordPress 4.9, oEmbeds will now work in text widgets and other areas as well.

oEmbed in sidebar widgets

Shortcode in Sidebar Text Widgets

WordPress didn’t allow shortcode execution in text widgets. Users had to explicitly enable shortcodes in text widgets. WordPress 4.9 will finally change that and users will be able to add shortcodes in text widgets out of the box.

Shortcodes in sidebar widgets

New Code Editing Experience in WordPress 4.9

WordPress allows you to add HTML/CSS code at various places like theme editor, custom CSS panel, or in custom HTML widget.

Previously, these areas were plain text boxes and didn’t look or act like a proper code editor.

WordPress 4.9 has changed that by adding syntax highlighting, code suggestions, and auto-completion into those areas.

Code editing in WordPress 4.9

If you have ever faced syntax error when editing your theme, then this enhancement will automatically fix many common mistakes that cause such errors.

Error highlighting

If you don’t want to use the syntax highlighting feature, then you can still easily disable it. Simply go to your profile page and uncheck the syntax highlighting option.

Disable syntax highlighting

One of the big usability issues beginners faced was directly making changes from WordPress built-in editor without fully understanding the consequences. A slightest mistake would lead to a syntax error and making their websites inaccessible.

WordPress 4.9 now shows a warning to users when they access the editor.

Theme editor warning

It will also show users helpful tips and point them to custom CSS panel in the customizer.

However, many users access the editor not to make changes but to quickly look up code. Particularly when they are working on child themes. To help those users, the editor will now recursively show files and folder in the sidebar for easier browsing of all files in a theme folder.

Files and directories in theme editor

Under The Hood Changes

WordPress 4.9 also brings several great changes for developers as well. Here are some of those under the hood improvements.

Better mapping for theme widgets and navigation menus after switching themes. #39693, #39692

Removal of SWFUpload library from the core. #41752

Require a confirmation link in an email to be clicked by admin when a user attempts to change their email address. #16470

We hope this article offered you a good insight into what’s new in WordPress 4.9. We are particularly excited about the customizer changes. What are you excited about?

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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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Reader Interactions

17 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Bipin Prasad says

    New update rocks!!!

    But I am not able to add two different admin email address for the notification from settings -> general settings -> email address :(

  3. Mann Reyes Jr says


    Nice to see the informative details about WordPress 4.9. I’m using 4.9 for my website. Nice and updated. Easier to use.


  4. Wagner Brenner says

    Very nice. But the “Additional CSS” customizer is too narrow and hard to edit. Is there a way to increase the size of the panel?

  5. Trish says

    Thanks for the information. I was getting all excited about the syntax highlighting and was wondering why it wasn’t appearing in my text editor, then I read this article and realised it was just for the customizer. To be honest, I’m sick of reading about the customizer, I wish they would actually work on something useful for a change, like actually improving the writing experience!

  6. Mathukutty P. V. says

    They had given what’s new section some information, like gallery widget etc. This blog explained everything. Thanks. In WordPress dot com site sidebar widget displaying recent posts from jetpack enabled self-hosted site with featured images and title link. Is there any way to display featured image thumbnail of recent posts sidebar widget on WordPress site?

  7. Goob says

    Dang, when I was reading about 4.9 last week, I didn’t realize the schedule changes was for themes instead of posts. It’d be far more useful to be able to schedule category changes or updates for posts than it would be for themes.

    • Ty Cahill says

      I completely agree! I have several clients that want to be able to schedule updates to pages–like planning out sales events for the next month, changing displayed prices at the end of sale or end of the year, etc. WP has definitely matured into a solid CMS, but scheduling CONTENT updates is still one of the core CMS functions missing, and seems much more important that scheduling theme updates.

      • Marek says

        Solid? Mature? With that database? I’m ditching WP before 5.0, and 4.9 made a strong addition to my commitment.

  8. Chris Cohier says

    So nothing useful for devs, they focused too much on the site builder “wix killer” side of things.

    Still waiting for UI to handle user perms/caps, custom post types, custom tax, user profile/register fields, post/tax field groups, etc

  9. Yuvraj Khavad says

    Hello Team,

    Nice article with clearcut information about new WordPress updates

    Thanks for shating with us.

  10. Ayoola says

    Thank you for the New WordPress and all the improved features. I have upgraded to New WordPress, but I am not seeing the “Press This” bookmarlet and button under “Available Tools”. The Press This feature as am concern is what makes WordPress the blogger’s delight.
    I await your response.


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