How To See What A WordPress User Is Seeing (User Switching)

Published: 2 months ago

If you are WordPress admin trying to troubleshoot an issue that a user of your website is having, it can get difficult asking for screenshots and a description of the problem. We realized this issue when managing several of our clients WooCommerce website, and figured that a better way would simply be to login as that WordPress user to see what issues they were having first hand.

Our hunch was correct. The best way to figure out an issue that a WordPress user is having on your own website is the simply login as that user, and understand what the issue may be. Typically, it is a lack of privileges leading to a screen saying "you can't access this feature". Figuring this out by switching into that user account will save you a ton of time as opposed to emailing back-and-forth, trying to get screenshots, and then going from there. In this article, we are going to show you how to switch into a WordPress user account. There will be several methods and plugins outlined here.

Method 1: Get user login and password, switch into account

To view what a user is seeing in a WordPress website, you can simply request their login and password, log out of your admin account, and into that account. Then, you can bump into the same issue that the user is having, and troubleshoot from there. As mentioned above, it's typically a privileges issue, but if it's not you can get a JavaScript council reading from that specific user, and go from there.

If you don't want to request the password of that specific user, you can simply reset it in the backend of WordPress. Go to the specific user and add a new password. Then use that new password to log into the account. Afterwards, you can use the new feature in WordPress version 5.7 to send them a password reset email, while also emailing them saying that during troubleshooting the password was changed.

This is a very solid method of seeing what your user is saying in terms of issues with WordPress, if you are running a smaller website and don't bump into this issue often. However, if you're managing a major website that has members or customers, you'll probably bump into this issue several times per month, meaning that using a plugin will simply make your life a lot easier.

Method 2: Use a plugin

The second method is the one that we use on production website. Using a plug-in gives you a ton more capability, and makes your life a lot easier. However, there are security considerations with this method.

The plugin that we use is called "View Admin As", and is a complete tool kit that fulfills the topics outlined above.

There are a collection of role and user switching plugins for WordPress, but this is the best one that we have found after testing pretty much all of them. It's very simple and easy, gives you a menu in the top admin bar, and allows you to view the website as a specific user role, or an individual user. In terms of troubleshooting, this is the most robust way to troubleshoot privileges and user issues.

It gives you an awesome drop down to a bar from the admin bar. With it, you can view a word press website as a specific role, or search for a user and swap into their account. You can also view under capabilities and languages, combine views, manage roles, and edit settings.

The best part is that this is a completely free plugin with no pro version. And, as the header art says, it is hands-down the best experience for testing roles and user views. There's really no negative with this tool, it is incredibly well developed, and should be a staple in WordPress.

There is a security consideration here, and if you use it on a production website where there is sensitive user data, you'll probably want to keep these issues in mind. If somebody gets into your admin account, they can then use this plug-in to easily swap into any customer account. It WooCommerce data is saved, they can probably make purchases on the customers behalf. However, if somebody gets into your admin account, this is probably the least of your worries. And, if they're in your account they can simply install this plugin on their own. However, ensure that your admin account is always as secure as possible, and that you are using the best practices in terms of security for a WordPress website.

Final Thoughts

The best way to efficiently troubleshoot user issues on WordPress as an administrator is to simply switch into their account. You can do this by manually resetting your password and logging in as if you were them, or you can use a plug-in that allows you to switch into roles and users very easily. Our suggestion is to use the WordPress plugin. If you have any additional suggestions for those looking to troubleshoot issues with users on WordPress please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

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