Enabling the WordPress Theme and Plugin Editor

wp-editor-on-vi

When you use Click&Build to set up your WordPress installation, we set configurations and add functionalities to make it easier and safer for you to build your own website.

This is why we sometimes limit functionality – for example, we disable the theme and plugin editors in WordPress for Free Mode installations.

Enabling the Theme and Plugin Editors in wp-config.php

If you use a 1&1 WordPress default installation, you can enable the editors by changing your wp-config.php file. If you use a Managed WordPress installation, enabling the theme and plugin editor is currently not supported. Switch from Managed WordPress to Standard

From here it’s a few steps to enable the editors again:

  1. Use SFTP and go to the location of your WordPress site. Learn how
  2. Open wp-config.php on your computer.
  3. Search for:
     define('DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true);
  4. Change true to false:
     define('DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', false);
  5. Save the file and upload it back again.

The theme editor is now available in the Appearance tab:

wordpress-theme-editor-active

Security Risks When Enabling the Editors

security-vi2-cropThe first risk is that someone could have gained admin access to your site. When that happens and you have your editor enabled, they could use that to add any code they want. At that point they don’t need SFTP access or anything like that, WordPress already provides all the access they need to modify your site and misuse it.

Theme or Plugin Updates Might Break Changes Made Using the Editors

The second risk is that it makes it really easy to change something in a way that most likely will break when there is an update for that theme or plugin.

  • In most cases it’s the theme you want to adjust and there are multiple ways in doing that. If it’s only CSS then you should use a plugin (for example: Simple Custom CSS) that has a CSS editor which allows you to change the styling independently of the theme. So when the theme gets updated or you switch themes, your custom CSS is still loaded.
  • Another way is to build a Child theme. This is a more advanced way of overwriting parts of a theme which is not always that easy. But when you understand how it works, you can do great things with it.

Learn more about Child Themes (WordPress Codex).

Note: This Post was initially published by Marko Heijnen on January 22, 2015.

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15 thoughts on “Enabling the WordPress Theme and Plugin Editor

  1. Jawad Ahmad says:

    Your post is quite useful, thanks for sharing it.

  2. Mike M says:

    This is exactly what I needed, thank you.

  3. Mike says:

    How come after setting up wordpress through 1and1 and making the wordpress account I cant login to wordpress using wordpress.org or wordpress.com? If I need custom work don’t to my site I don’t want to give 3rd party access to my 1and1 control panel. how would I go about doing this? Thanks.

  4. Aria says:

    Hi,
    I have question.. who is the possibility to change the pictures of the theme preview on appearance -> themes…?

    Thank you guy’s

    1. 1and1help says:

      Hi Aria,

      Do you mean the header picture of a theme? You first have to activate the theme, then you can change things like the pictures. The preview only shows you… well… a preview of what the theme might look like. 🙂

      Best,
      Michael, 1&1

  5. Will says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for this tip. It worked and it was easy to do.

    The only difference I noted was your screen cap has an option for “background”, in the appearance menu, mine does not. I had to install the ‘define’ line for editor, can I install the define for ‘background’ in the same way?

    Thanks

    Will

    1. 1and1help says:

      Hi Will,

      this manual only shows how to activate the “Editor” option. If you have an option “Background” at “Appearance” depends on the theme you are using.

      Best regards,
      Michael, 1&1

  6. JOHN says:

    Why is it that using 1&1 and building my blog in WP that my themes photo do not come up when I log in or anyone log in to my site.
    The only thing that comes up are the titles to the post and I have to click the titles to get into that post and information.
    I am a newbie but I have done 3 blogs with cpannels and never had this problem before.

    1. 1and1help says:

      Hi John,

      we published a how-to for migrating blogs in a community article a while ago. I am sure you will find helpful tips in there: https://community.1and1.com/moving-your-wordpress-website-to-1and1/

      Best regards,
      Michael, 1&1

  7. john says:

    this does not answer my question why does my post not come up complete and not just the title. I had to delete 3 post because under 1&1 half of the post does not work properly. I uploaded a click bank information but when I try and post it only part of this post shows up and you have to click on read more to read more information and this is not what I want. I am sorry that I ever went with your company and should have stayed with a company doing cpanel.

    1. 1and1help says:

      Hi john,

      I am sorry that this did not help. I am guessing that there is something wrong inside your WordPress configuration – it’s hard to tell from the outside without access to the WP dashboard. That’s why I gave you the link to our migration article. So you might check if you maybe missed an important step in your blog migration.

      It’s true, our Control Center is a proprietary tool, it’s not CPanel. So it might take some time to adapt and to find all the settings you need quickly. In our 1&1 Help Center you find several articles which should help you finding what you need: http://help.1and1.com/

      Best,
      Michael, 1&1

  8. SkillPlan says:

    Opened the wp-config.php file in cpanel text editor.
    Changed define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true);
    To define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, false);
    worked for me!
    It was changed to true by my wordpress security app called Sucuri, preventing the Appearance > Editor menu from displaying.

  9. Michael says:

    Thanks, this worked – not sure why editor is disabled by default now.

  10. I can’t thank you enough for this! I have had wasted hours searching wordpress.org for an answer and couldn’t find one. They should inform us when they do this. Again thank you.

    1. 1and1help says:

      Hi Francine,

      thanks for your feedback. To be fair: This is a 1&1 specific setting, so nothing you can find if you download WordPress from wordpress.org. So they have no need to mention this.

      Best regards,
      Michael, 1&1

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