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How to Disable and Remove WordPress Widgets

Do you use a lot of widgets to customize your WordPress site and make it look great? If so, there may come a time when you want to remove WordPress widgets to make room for new ones. Or remove those that you’re no longer using.

Adding widgets is an easy way to add new design options to any website. But sometimes they can be too much of a good thing. Unfortunately, using too many widgets can overwhelm a page and make it feel cluttered. And cluttered pages aren’t always an attractive look.

New website developers sometimes tend to overload pages. I’m going to show you how to fix that by disabling WordPress widgets to clean up your website.

When You Might Need to Remove or Disable Widgets

Widgets can be used on any WordPress website. Since the opportunity is there, a lot of plugins will add their own widgets to WordPress. For example, sidebars used to be common on WordPress websites. But you could always disable them in the widgets section.

It’s also possible to set it up so widgets overlap. It isn’t easy to do, but it’s possible. Again, not an attractive look. An overly cluttered page makes it hard for visitors to find what they are looking for or discover new content. When that happens, or when you find unused widgets on your website, it’s time to remove them.

Sweeping away clutter is not the only reason to remove widgets. When you’re redesigning your website, you may have to remove older widgets to make way for new ones. You may also disable some plugins during the redesign process, in which case you should disable the plugin-specific widgets.

How to Disable and Remove WordPress Widgets

It’s pretty easy to disable WordPress widgets and clean up your website. You can do it manually, of course, but today we’ll use the Widget Disable plugin. The plugin lets you disable any widget on your website.

It makes quick work of the process, but you should always double-check and be aware of what you’re disabling. But if you do happen to disable something you need, you can easily fix it with the plugin.

Let’s get started.

1. Install and Activate the Widget Disable Plugin

In the left column navigation, mouse over the “Plugins” link and click the “Add New” link.

Add New

Search for “Widget Disable” in the available search box. This will also display other plugins that you may find useful.

When you find the plugin, click the “Install Now” button.

Then click the “Activate” button.

2. Using the Widget Disable Plugin

In the left column navigation, mouse over the “Appearance” link and click the “Widgets” link. That will open the Widgets page.

WordPress widgets are sorted alphabetically to help you locate what you want to add to your website. Take a moment to look around. Note which widgets you are currently using and which ones you might like to disable.

The widgets that are in use will be in the widget area on the right side of the page. Unused widgets are on the list at the left.

Mouse over the “Appearance” link and click the “Disable Widgets” link in the left column navigation. That will open the plugin’s main settings page.

You’ll see all the widgets that you saw on the widgets page here. Each widget has a checkbox in front of it. When you check the box, you are disabling the widget.

Check the boxes for the widgets you would like to disable, then click the “Save Changes” button.

3. Check Any Custom, Theme, or Plugin Code

If you have a website code that’s calling a particular widget that you have disabled, it won’t break your site. The plugin disables in a way that does not block it on a code level. It’s essentially making the widget invisible, but in reality, it’s still there.

But it means you’ll have to change the code to replace the widget it’s calling. Tracking down which code to change should be easy if you’ve made your own customizations.

If a theme or a plugin is calling a removed widget, it may be a bit more challenging to locate and change the reference. You may have to find a replacement plugin or theme.

4. Disabling Dashboard Widgets

You may have noticed another tab on the plugin’s widget page. It’s called “Dashboard Widgets,” and let’s call it a bonus feature of the plugin.

disable dashboard widgets

The checkboxes on this tab control the widgets that WordPress displays on your dashboard when you log in.

All of those widgets can be minimized and even removed without the plugin. But what the plugin offers is the ability to disable the “nag” messages—for example, notifications about your PHP and web browser versions.

Those notifications can be useful for a lot of users, but you may have reasons for using an old PHP version or a version of your web browser that isn’t quite up-to-date.

If that sounds like you, and you’ve been annoyed by the WordPress nag messages, now you can disable them. Just like on the other widgets page, remember to click the “Save Changes” button after making any changes.

It’s a little thing, being able to disable those messages, but often it’s the little things that make us appreciate a tool.

But that’s all there is to disabling widgets on your website. The plugin is a great tool to keep your widgets section clean and easy to navigate especially if you’ve installed a lot of plugins that have added widgets of their own. Which just makes it easier to choose or move around the widgets you want to use on your site.

Remember, if you remove a widget and want to get it back, just uncheck the box and click the “Save Changes” button.

Practical Makes Perfect

Designing an appealing website is easier said than done. Anyone can throw a dozen things at the wall to see which ones stick. And it’s common, especially when we’re starting out, to try to fit too much on one page.

But “less is more” can be a tricky line to walk. Modern websites are often over-simplified to the point that there’s no actual information on them. We don’t want to go that far. But we also don’t want the web equivalent of a Dr. Bronner’s bottle.

By keeping the content on our pages focused, we make it easier for visitors to find what they need. A clean, uncluttered layout, along with effective menus, can work wonders. Menus and navigation are some of the keys to uncluttering a site that contains a lot of information.

If you think you may be moving into cluttered territory, gather some outside opinions. Get feedback about how your website looks and how easy it is to navigate from as many people as possible. It’s in your best interest to make your website accessible to everyone.

No one wants to play detective when they’re trying to find information on a website! Visitors won’t stick around if they can’t find what they’re looking for. And whenever you lose a visitor to frustration, you’re unlikely to see them return.

Do you use a lot of widgets on your website? Can you see the benefits of making your widget areas easier to navigate and use?

Author: Chris Racicot

Chris is the Support Manager at GreenGeeks and has been with the company since 2010. He has a passion for gaming, scripting and WordPress. When he’s not enjoying his sleep, he’s working on his guitar skills and fiddling with 3d printing.

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  1. Does disabling WordPress widgets speed up your website? Seems a bit strange to me to install one extra plugin just to hide some widgets in the Widgets Menu.

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