Changing a user profile picture in WordPress site

Changing a user profile picture

Mostly, WordPress sites display a user’s gravatar image as their profile photo by default. However, sometimes we may not want to use a gravatar image as a user image on a site.

I am happy to inform you that there is a way to change a user profile picture in your WordPress site. Actually, there are two (2) methods of changing a profile picture in your WordPress site:

  • use the Gravatar service.
  • use a WordPress plugin.

Today, I will show you both methods, so you can decide which one fits you best. In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to display your own profile picture in WordPress.

Use a service

By default, WordPress uses a service called Gravatar to display the user’s profile picture. The profile picture is based on the user’s email address, associated with a Gravatar service.

A Gravatar is a Globally Recognized Avatar

I do not have a Gravatar account.

If WordPress user does not have a gravatar account then WordPress will display a default image placeholder, called “Mystery Man”, as a profile picture.

There are other generic profile images that can be used for users without a custom avatar of their own. These images can be set in WordPress dashboard, under the Discussion Settings.

In the example below, you can find a mix of custom and default profile pictures when showing information about WordPress user.

Example of displaying a custom profile picture for WordPress user, along with an automatically generated avatar for WordPress user without gravatar account, in the Prosperity theme.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to change gravatar using core options in the Discussion Settings page.

Change gravatar.

In order to change gravatar image, you will need to use the service’s website:

  1. Visit Gravatar site.
  2. Log in with your account.

You can find the Sign In button in the top right corner of the webpage. If you don’t have a account then you need to create one which is absolutely free and will take a few minutes.

Note, your gravatar account is associated with an email address you have in your WordPress dashboard under the Users section. Thus, make sure the email address, you use for a account, is the same as email you use on your WordPress site.

After clicking the Sign In button, you will see either a sign in form or an approval form.

The approval form appears when you are already logged into system. The sign in form appears when cannot locate you as a logged in user in the system.

  • if you get the approval form, click Approve to order to navigate to Gravatar dashboard and start uploading your profile picture.

  • if you get a regular sign in form, enter — either your email address or username — in the form field, and then click Continue to visit Gravatar dashboard to manage gravatars.

In Gravatar dashboard, select an email address for which you want to update a profile picture, and then click Add a new image link at the bottom of the page to upload an image.

Example of a dahboard page when a WordPress user can change gravatar image.

Follow directions that Gravatar gives you during the upload process in order to successfully update your profile picture.

After selecting and editing the image, and setting the image rating using controls in Gravatar dashboard, your new profile picture should be shown on a WordPress site.

Important to mention — there are cases when Gravatar shows an old image even when a new image has been already uploaded. In this case, log out of Gravatar to clear its cache, and then check again your recent changes.

Use a plugin

Want to use something other than Gravatar service? Try WordPress plugins with functionality of changing the user’s profile picture.

Personally, I like Simple Local Avatars plugin which is completely free and easy to use. The plugin can be installed and activated within your WordPress dashboard.

Preview of an official WordPress plugins page.

On the Add Plugins screen (Plugins → Add New), search for the plugin using the search field located at the top of the page.

Once you locate the plugin, install it and then activate Simple Local Avatars (Plugins → Installed Plugins) in order to see new options for uploading a profile picture (Users → Your Profile).

For a more detailed information on how to install, activate, and use the plugin, see a full documentation for Simple Local Avatars.

There are many other plugins with a functionality of changing a profile picture in a WordPress site. You can go to WordPress plugin directory and find the plugin you like the best.

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22 responses

  1. Kitty Kilian Avatar
    Kitty Kilian

    That seems worth looking into! But do you mean I can also add other people’s pictures – people who never filled out their gravatar forms?

    I will try it out anyhow.

  2. Shiny Avatar

    Nice article, it helped!

  3. Afolabi Avatar

    I shall give a trial

  4. Lisa Avatar

    Do you know if there is a way just to add my picture on the primary sidebar (genesis user profile) but not change my gravatar everywhere else? I designed a gravatar logo to use when responding to comments and such. Thanks!

  5. Pitso Avatar

    Thank you

  6. Jayesh Sharma Avatar
    Jayesh Sharma

    this is really helpful while I was searching for many days about how to change the avatar and finally, I easily changed my avatar.

  7. carlos Avatar

    Very useful! Thanks!!

  8. Christian BENITEZ Avatar
    Christian BENITEZ

    Thanks for the solution! I didn´t want to make an account just for gravatar

  9. Gonzalo Avatar

    Is this supposed to work in a multisite network? The plugin is activated for the network and the site, but the additional field is not visible.

    1. Taras Dashkevych Avatar

      Hey Gonzalo,

      It looks like there are some known issues with a multisite network but the team is working on the solution. For more information, please check this GitHub issue:

      Kind regards,

  10. mr waghela Avatar
    mr waghela

    How to change profile picture without plan and gravtar in wordpress

    1. Taras Dashkevych Avatar


      If you want to change the profile picture without using the Gravtar service then you need to use the 3rd party plugin. See the post for more information.

      Kind regards,


    Great work!!

    Does this plugin allow others users who visit my website be able to upload their profile pictures too from their local computers?

    1. Taras Dashkevych Avatar

      Hi Christian,

      Users have to be registered on your site. Otherwise, they need to upload their profile pictures using the Gravatar service.


  12. Erez Avatar

    thank you so much.
    Exactly what I was looking for.

  13. Lucas Deaver Avatar
    Lucas Deaver

    I use Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) to add a picture field to the user archive pages. I never use that out-dated WordPress method to show profile headshots.

    1. Jay Avatar

      Hey you do you create it using ACF ?

      I have ACF..

  14. Amarah Avatar

    Perfect, thx.

  15. Chidi Emeke Avatar
    Chidi Emeke

    Hello. Please I’ll like to know how I can change the looks of my profile picture & bio. I want my profile picture to appear on the side of the screen, just like yours, currently it’s just fills the entire screen & I don’t like it that way.

    1. Taras Dashkevych Avatar

      Hi Chidi,

      Often, the layout of the bio section comes from the theme. So, you need to contact the author of your theme regarding such change.

      Kind regards,

  16. TRK Avatar

    Can we have a way to override the “theme” control on the avatar

    1. Taras Dashkevych Avatar

      It depends on how the “theme” controls the avatar, so it’s better to ask the theme provider directly on how to pass the “theme” control.

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