Installing WordPress can be a cumbersome task, especially to users less experienced with the platform. Navigating the vast ocean of available plugins is often an adventure in itself – as well as an invitation to install lots of bbloat and plugins which sound too awesome not to install but are after all rather useless or irrelevant.

In this post, we have a look at 5 great free plugins for WordPress which make using WordPress and the WordPress Admin area a more enjoyable experience.

YOAST Comment Hacks

Already in 2008 I mentioned a plugin which cleans up the default WordPress comment notification email.

The team over at YOAST have taken Mike Davidson’s Clean Notifications plugin at heart and extended with several more functions to facilitate their day-to-day operational work, often dealing with WordPress comments.

The plugin adds the following hacks to WordPress comments [and notifications]:

  • Cleaner comment notification emails.
  • The option to disallow comments below a certain length.
  • The option to redirect first-time commenters to a thank you page.
  • An input field on the comment edit screen to change the comment parent ID.
  • Links in the admin comments section to email individual commenters.
  • A button in the WP toolbar to email all the commenters on a post.
  • Adds a comment routing option. This adds a dropdown in a post’s discussion settings, allowing the routing of comment emails to another user.

We especially like the option to disallow comments below a certain length. This is a welcome feature especially on sites with regular First comments.

Get YOAST Comment Hacks.

Easy Updates Manager

Easy Updates Manager is a free plugin which allows one to configure which plugins and themes should check for updates – and even be auto-updated when your WordPress installation is configured to automatically update themes, plugins, and also languages.

While all this could be done via functions.php or a Code Snippets plugin it would be a herculean task to do so – and to maintain when one has a habit of regularly installing new plugins or themes. Easy Updates Manager simplifies this by collating everything in a simple dashboard.

Easy Updates Manager is especially useful when one has installed a theme which depends on specific plugins. Often [commercial] themes may be abandoned or not updated regularly and updates to the plugins they rely on may actually break a site. It is recommended that users always set plugins which came together with a together to not update automatically1.

Check out the video below to get a better overview of what Easy Updates Manager can do.

Get the free Easy updates Manager plugin from wordpress.org.

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Easy Footnotes

For WordPress setups which have Markdown integrated footnotes can easily be inserted by using Markdown’s [^1] and [^1]: Your footnote content here. This will automatically create a footnote [referrer] link and a footnote section at the bottom of the post.

Yet some users may not want write using Markdown2 or may want an even easier option to work with footnotes. Others may prefer to have more control over their footnotes and the styling of their footnotes.

With the Easy Footnotes plugin this become all possible.

Once the Easy Footnotes plugin is installed and activated, creating a footnote becomes as easy as using the [note] shortcode to contain the footnote with. The plugin will automatically number and link all footnotes and also display the content of the footnote in a popup hen hovering over the footnote’s link.

Get Easy Footnotes from wordpress.org.

#hashtagger

Hashtagger is a plugin which does exactly what one expects from it: create tags and links from hashtags found in content. In other words, you can use #hashtags in WordPress with the free hashtagger plugin.

They won’t be included in Twitter hashtag search but the hashtagger plugin makes adding tags to articles easy. After installation, every hashtag found in a post will automatically be added as a tag and can even be linked to the tag’s archive.

Get hashtagger from wordpress.org.

Clean WP Admin Menu

Clean WP Admin Menu is a simple plugin which keeps the WordPress Admin sidebar free of clutter. Plugins have a ~~nasty~~ habit of inserting new entries, often even menus complete with commercial links(!) in the sidebar.

Clean WP Admi Menu seeks to solve this issue. After installation, one can easily hide the menus which aren’t often visited and thus shorten the WP Admin sidebar. The hidden links/menus become visible upon clicking the Clean WP Admin icon in the sidebar.

Get Clean WP Admin Menu from wordpress.org.


  1. First check whether the theme and site still function properly after updating all included/required plugins. 
  2. Markdown can also be activated via the popular Jetpack plugin.