How to Disable WordPress Block Widgets and Use Classic Widgets Again

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Struggling with how to disable WordPress block widgets?

In WordPress 5.8 (released in July 2021), WordPress eliminated the traditional widget system and replaced it with a new block-based system where you use Gutenberg blocks to control your widget areas instead of widgets.

While the new block-based widget editor does give you access to a lot of the same functionality as the older widget system, you might have a situation where you’re better off if you disable WordPress block widgets. Or, it might just be personal preference.

Thankfully, it’s very easy to disable WordPress block widgets. And in this post, we’ll show you exactly how to do it using simple, free solutions.

We’ll show you two free plugins that make it super easy to go back to the classic widgets. Then, we’ll also share a simple code snippet that you can add to your site if you want to skip the plugin route.

Let’s jump in!

The methods for how to disable WordPress block widgets

Below, we’ll share several free methods to disable WordPress block widgets. If you’re not sure which to choose, we recommend just using the first option on our list.

Classic Widgets plugin

The Classic Widgets plugin comes directly from the WordPress contributor team, just like the popular Classic Editor plugin that lets you disable the block editor.

This plugin has no settings. Just install and activate the free plugin from WordPress.org and your site will instantly go back to using the classic widget system.

If you ever want to start using block widgets again, you just need to deactivate the plugin and your site will go back to using the new widget system.

Disable Gutenberg plugin

As the name suggests, the Disable Gutenberg plugin lets you disable all traces of the Gutenberg block editor on your site, including both the content editor and the block-based widgets.

Once you activate it, go to Settings → Gutenberg and check the box to use Classic Widgets:

How to disable WordPress block widgets

Again, the key difference between this plugin and the Classic Widgets plugin above is that this plugin completely disables the block editor, while the Classic Widgets plugin only disables it for widgets.

Manual code snippet

If you don’t want to install yet another plugin on your site, it’s also easy to disable block widgets using just a simple code snippet. You’ll want to add this code snippet to your child theme’s functions.php file or a plugin such as Code Snippets:

function example_theme_support() {
    remove_theme_support( 'widgets-block-editor' );
}
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'example_theme_support' );

Disable WordPress block widgets today

If you prefer the classic WordPress widget system to the new block-based widget editor, WordPress thankfully makes it super easy to disable block widgets.

The simplest option is to just install and activate the Classic Widgets plugin. There’s nothing to configure – just activate the plugin and you’ll instantly go back to using the classic widget system.

Or, you can also just use the code snippet above and call it a day.

Once you’re back to using the classic widget system, you can check out our collection of the 10 best free WordPress widgets to improve your widget areas. Or, we also have a guide on how to create a custom sidebar that you can fill with widgets.

Do you have any questions about disabling the block widgets in WordPress 5.8? Let us know in the comments!

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