10 things you didn’t know you could do with Gutenberg

Happy unofficial birthday to the big G. It’s not actually been a full year since it got merged into Core, but with WordCamp US this last weekend and last years event being the go-live, I feel it’s appropriate to celebrate year 1 of the Block editor. So, have some cake.

The project has hustled along. In Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word session he shared that there are over twice as many contributors now on Gutenberg as there were at this time last year. It’s moving, improving, evolving, and expanding. And apparently only at about 20% of its final form.

With this milestone, let’s look at 10 things you didn’t know you could do with Gutenberg.

1. Fix the block toolbar to the top of the page

You know the toolbar that appears with the block contextual controls when a block is active? Well, it doesn’t have to be attached to the block, it can be fixed to the top of the page. Way better IMHO.

To move the toolbar, go to more tools and options (3 dots) in the top right and select the top toolbar option.

2. Use a slash command for finding blocks

Plenty of people know this one, but if you don’t… prepare to have your day made!

When you drop to a new line in Gutenberg and want to add a block, rather than clicking the plus icon, just hit / and start typing the name of the block.

3. See a nested list of all blocks on your page

Sometimes you need to get a high-level view of all the blocks you have on your page. Kinda like a table of contents of blocks.

4. Manage available blocks

Even with just the blocks in core, it can get crowded quickly with the number of available blocks. The Block Manager gives you a quick and easy way to toggle on/off the availability of blocks for anyone building pages or writing posts.

It’s a bit limited in its current form, but still useful.

5. Create reusable blocks

Blocks are pretty handy as standardised containers for creating content, but sometimes you want the content itself to be standardised. E.g. You have a “Subscribe to my newsletter” block that includes a heading, text, and a form. The content in this block is the same every time so you don’t want to type these things out each time. Solution: create a reusable block.

6. Turn off the pre-publish checks

By default, if you hit Publish, a prompt asks you if you’re actually ready to publish. This is great, although not always necessary. Want to turn it off? You can. More Tools & options (3 dots)>Options>Pre-publish Checks

7. Create space with the spacer block

This is a good one when you’re building out pages with Gutenberg. You may have some blocks that do all sorts of cool stuff, but just need to give them a little more space to breathe. Full-width blocks often do. Rather than dealing with margins etc on the blocks themselves, just drop a spacer block in.

8. Go fullscreen

When you’re in the content creation flow, all the admin options of WordPress are actually not needed. Hide them and give yourself a distraction free experience by enabling fullscreen mode. More Tools & options (3 dots)> Fullscreen mode

9. Paste a URL to link text

This is actually a pre-Gutenberg feature, but is 100% worthy of note because it’s awesome! If you have some text you want to link somewhere, just highlight and paste the URL directly on text. The text isn’t replaced with the URL, it’s linked to the URL. Genius! Whoever thought this out, you are a saint!

10. Grouped Blocks

This one’s a new feature of WordPress 5.3, so check it out when it’s released this month.

Basically a Group block is a container you can drop other blocks in to. This helps with grouping content together for styling or just general management on the page.

Bonus. Build your own blocks

Sneaky plug here. 😛 There are blocks in core, blocks in plugins, blocks in themes, but sometimes you just need something that does exactly what you want, how you want. Custom blocks are the answer here, and it isn’t as hard as you may think.

Check out Block Lab and join 4000+ other WordPressers in building custom blocks for Gutenberg

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  1. Hi,
    I am an Applications Support Specialist for Boston Children’s Hospital. We are currently using WordPress to run our website and we are using the Block Lab pug-in for different aspects of the website. I see in this article that you can make Nested Blocks on your page. How do you make Nested Blocks within the Block Lab plug-in?

    Thank you!

    1. Block Lab doesn’t support nested blocks right now. We suggest building multiple blocks and grouping them with a Group block, which comes with WordPress core.

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