Over the years our web design and development projects required the addition of utility features not available in WordPress. The plugins listed here have been tried and tested, and have now become staples in our arsenal. The following is our list of the top 10 WordPress utility plugins for 2021.
1. Advanced Database Cleaner
Keeping the database tidy doesn’t have to be just a springtime cleaning task. With the Advanced Database Cleaner, website maintenance is a lot easier. It features an automated process that will remove unused data from the database (including Revisions, Drafts, Auto Drafts, Trash Posts, Pending Comments, Spam Comments, Trash Comments, Orphan Postmeta, Orphan Commentmeta, Orphan Relationships, and Dashboard Transient Feed). It will also automate optimization of the database, which can be scheduled hourly, twice a day, daily, weekly, or monthly.
A unique feature of the PRO plugin version is that it will scan the WordPress database and find orphan tables. It will also scan the options table and find orphan options. Once identified, the process of removing the orphan data is a breeze.
Take a look at the Advanced Database Cleaner tutorial on this website for more information beyond this list of the top WordPress utility plugins.
2. Edit Author Slug
One of the bigger security concerns for a WordPress website is the brute force hacking of the administrator account. WordPress, by default, creates a URL for each user:
WordPress allows us to easily find the administrator login by visiting the following URL (upon redirect the URL will have the admin username in it):
But what if the username shown in the author URL could be masked to show something arbitrary? Edit Author Slug is a simple plugin that will allow the author slug to be rewritten on a per-user basis. So if the login is:
and the author URL is:
we can use the Edit Author Slug plugin to change the author URL to:
The ‘exampleadmin’ username will still be used as the login, but it will no longer be displayed publicly in the author URL. This becomes a viable security measure to prevent brute force hacking if the username is never known by a third-party.
There are other useful reasons to use Edit Author Slug, especially for development projects involving user login/logout interaction, as this plugin will allow for a role-based author base.
Take a look at the Edit Author Slug tutorial on this website for more information beyond this list of the top WordPress utility plugins.
3. Easy WP SMTP
It may be necessary for WordPress to use SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) to send e-mails. Reasons for this include e-mail not getting delivered, e-mail ending up in the junk/spam folder, server restrictions preventing the e-mail from being sent, or the e-mail being lost or sent into oblivion by the server.
The WordPress utility plugin Easy WP SMTP solves these problems, and can also use Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail SMTP servers (if you already have an account). Once the plugin is activated and setup, the responsibility of the e-mail delivery will be placed on the SMTP server instead of the hosting company.
NOTE: Some hosting companies block outgoing ports, so you may need to check which ports are open. For example, if you use GoDaddy shared hosting, you may need to use port 80 or port 25 for the ‘SMTP Port’ option on the plugin settings page.
If a website is being redesigned, or if page/post URLs are being changed, the Redirection WordPress utility plugin is a great tool to easily create 301 redirects to prevent the page not found (404) errors in WordPress. The biggest benefit of using this plugin is to improve SEO by redirecting already indexed URLs on search engines to the new URL on the website.
For example, if the previous website services page was indexed by Google as:
the plugin will redirect to the new page:
The Redirection plugin keeps a log of all redirections and 404 errors and makes it simple to import and export CSV or JSON files.
The plugin can perform the following redirections:
- 301 (moved permanently)
- 302 (found)
- 303 (see other)
- 304 (not modified)
- 307 (temporary redirect)
- 308 (permanent redirect)
5. Enhanced Media Library
One of the more common complaints about the WordPress media library is the lack of built-in tools to keep it organized. For large and active websites, keeping the media library from falling into disarray can be a time-consuming job. The Enhanced Media Library WordPress utility plugin includes features such as media categories, media taxonomies, filter and order options, and MIME types. The plugin allows new media files to be categorized, and the PRO version has a feature to bulk move media files to categories.
The primary purpose of this plugin is to help keep the website organized and make the task of finding existing media files easier, which is definitely lacking in WordPress now.
6. Enable Media Replace
When designing a website, or creating a post or page, it can be tedious to have to first delete an image in the media library before uploading a new version of it. The Enable Media Replace WordPress utility plugin will let you upload a new version of an image (or any media file) and replace the old image in a single step by adding two options:
- Just replace the file.
- Replace the file, use the new file name, and update all links on the website.
This plugin is a great time saver and is handy for web designers and developers, authors, and anyone else making changes to a website.
7. Search & Replace
Search & Replace is a WordPress utility plugin that provides an interface to make changes to the WordPress database. It comes with several features (which include handling of serialized data):
- Backup and restore the WordPress database.
- Change the domain/URL of the website.
- Change the WordPress database prefix.
- Do a search and replace as a dry run before committing the changes.
- Choose which database tables to include in the search and replace.
- Choose to either commit the changes to the database or export the database with the changes as an SQL file.
This plugin will save time when moving a website from ‘http’ to ‘https’ and will help with content updates, such as changing dates, names, phrases, etc. Just remember to make a backup before running the search and replace!
8. Real-Time Find and Replace
This plugin should not be confused with any other search and replace plugins that make changes to the database. The Real-Time Find and Replace WordPress Utility plugin dynamically makes changes to the output of the website in real time. The plugin allows for find and replace rules to be created, and then applies those rules to a page after it is generated by WordPress (compiled PHP), but before it reaches the user’s browser.
The real benefit of using this plugin is the ability to make changes to keywords or key phrases without having to edit theme files, WooCommerce templates, or anything else. This plugin becomes a useful band-aid for short/small design projects, but probably shouldn’t be used for long-term solutions, as it may begin to consume resources if you create 50+ rules (according to the author’s FAQ).
9. WP UserOnline
As an administrator, it is useful to know who is on the website and what URL is being visited. For example, if there are multiple admin/editor/author users logged into the website at the same time, knowing what each user is doing in real-time could avoid editing conflicts or other problems.
The WP-UserOnline WordPress utility plugin includes an informational dashboard widget, which displays how many users are on the website, the usernames, and the most amount of users online by date. The plugin also features a shortcode to create a UserOnline page (if you want to display publicly who is on the website). For added control, the plugin settings page allows customization of the UserOnline page template.
10. Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension
Contact Form 7 is an extremely popular plugin with 1+ million active installs. Extending the CF7 plugin to add functionality is good practice, instead of installing a separate, competing plugin. The Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension WordPress utility plugin integrates the following features directly into CF7:
- It allows using different MailChimp mailing lists for each CF7 form.
- Offers the single opt-in option (it will not send a confirmation email to a subscriber).
- Offers the double opt-in option (it will send a confirmation email to a subscriber).
- Place the opt-in checkbox anywhere on the form.
- It supports the MailChimp custom fields.
This plugin becomes viable (as opposed to using the one that MailChimp developed) when using different mailing lists for CF7 forms on a website. It also saves time integrating it into a website if the contact form has already been styled in CSS.
Take a look at the Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension tutorial on this website for more information beyond this list of the top WordPress utility plugins.
Final Thoughts: The Top 10 WordPress Utility Plugins
What do you think about this top 10 list of WordPress utility plugins? Which plugins would you add or remove?
Let us know your comments below.
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