5 Sneaky Tips for Using the Gutenberg Editor

Yes, WordPress users are all in the boat now: use the Gutenberg block editor, move to a different blog host, or leave the blogosphere forever. With those sorts of options, it makes sense to at least try the new system before gutting all your work.

I’ve seen tutorials around and about, but there’s some neat tricks and hints the Gutenberg process lets you do that you couldn’t on the old version. If you want a good, basic intro on using the Gutenberg Editor, visit Colleen Chesebro’s site.

5. Quick Way to Start a Block You Want

Something I didn’t like when initially starting the editor (and, if I’m being honest, still don’t like) is how pressing “enter” starts a new block. At least it assumes you’ll be using a text block!

But what if you don’t want to use the text block? You have to click the stupid plus, find what you want – aaagh!

– OR – you can use the handy dandy backslash button.

When you start a new paragraph/block, type a / as the first thing. A dropdown menu will appear as so:

You can then click the block you want, or you can finish typing. Typing /twitter, for instance, will let you embed a twitter post. You couldn’t do that shiz with the old editor very easily!

Also, follow me on Twitter. And Instagram, because apparently those are things I’m supposed to tell you to do.

4. Figure Out Which Shortcuts Work

I’m the kind of person who likes keyboard shortcuts. The Gutenberg editor has a lot of shortcuts, but they’re not the same as the old editor. Depending on your OS and your browser, you may find difficulties in using CTRL+U (underline). Underline, for example, often doesn’t work on Chrome and opens the source code page on Firefox. Because of this, I’d suggest trying your usual shortcuts almost immediately when you start using Gutenberg.

If (or when) a shortcut doesn’t work, you may also need to look for the button. On the classic editor, most things a typical blogger would need were available in the toolbar. With the text toolbar much abbreviated in the new editor, you may need to expand the menu more often than you used to.

To get to the underline function (which I use because my theme doesn’t easily show the difference between link text and normal text), I do:

This is also where you’ll find justify (because apparently that doesn’t count as an alignment under the alignments part of the toolbar).

Issues with shortcuts or some functionalities may be caused by one of a host of issues, including OS incompatibility, browser incompatibility, browser plugin inability, or WordPress plugin incompatibility (I’ve seen on the forums that a plugin called TinyMCE causes issues). My assumption is the WordPress team will eventually fix a lot of these issues, but as of this posting, just be aware and figure out what you need to do.


For the love of all that is holy and just, you can now copy an image and paste it directly into your post without having to insert it into your media library first. Sure, you can still do that, and it’s a good idea to curate your images in such a way that you can re-use them (remember, your storage space hasn’t changed).

Those images I added above? I took snips of my work, then copied it and pasted them directly to the document. Without any extra effort, they’re ready and available for me. This year, when I do a book review, I’m not going to have to do the process of adding the covers with care and pain. All I’ll do is paste the image, and its ready for me to edit and change the name.

2. Add .gifs Without Destroying Your Storage Space

That’s right – animated gifs. When you used the old editor, you’d have to download them from Giphy or Tenor or something of the sort. Then you’d have to upload them from your computer into your gallery. Out of my 7.7% of memory space taken by images on my blog, I’d have to say most of that space is probably taken by .gifs – despite them being a tiny fraction of the number of images I’ve uploaded. They’re just enormous files.

Now, you can use the /gif block, search for your animated trash, and plug n’ chug.

Problems with that:

  • No size control. Your theme determines the size.
  • If you try to delete the block with backspace, weird crap happens.
  • CTRL-Z or Undo won’t work right on it.
  • It’s huge in the editor, so you may have to move it before you can see the “remove block” clicky bit (because, like I said, the backspace thing can be screwy).

1. Just Wait and Let It Improve

Honestly, the biggest problem with the editor is that it’s now less similar to MS Word, which is still the absolute gold-standard for what people learn to use as a word processor. Even if Gutenberg will be better (which I am not holding my breath for), it’s not part of our typical mindsets yet. That makes it hard to wrap around. That being said, I think it’s not just in our heads and genuinely needs improvement.

People are out there lobbying on forums to get the Gutenberg team to change things to a more understandable and useful format. The easily broken shortcuts, shortened text editing bar, changes to the coding method, and compression of Classic posts in the mobile app are real issues among a thousand real issues. As of this post, the Gutenberg editor has over 2,000 1-star reviews, an overall rating of 2 stars, and a slew of vitriol in the written comments. Things will probably change because WordPress is, ultimately, a product. You have to keep your product competitive, and time will tell if these new changes actually help or hurt the site.

Personally, I find the new editor just enough of a pain that I don’t spend nearly as much time on the blogosphere as I used to. I can feel myself drifting off because making a post is just no longer fun. User engagement is one of those statistics WordPress will be measuring – so don’t feel bad if you’re slower now, either.

Only time will tell what happens next.

Do you have any quick tips? Any complaints about the new editor? We can have a secret pow-wow in the comments where we spew all sorts of polluted words concerning this monster! Bring it!

23 thoughts on “5 Sneaky Tips for Using the Gutenberg Editor

  1. joanne the geek says:

    What we used before the block editor was so easy to use and seemed fairly foolproof. I have a simmering rage for this block editor. It turns all my poetry into one big stanza. It I try to use the classic one my posts get all compressed. You would think if they’re wanting new people to join they would have something more user friendly.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      When you pointed out the poetry thing and I tried it, it made me livid. I’d already made this post, and I would have deleted it if I’d had an alternative ready. Such a frustrating editor.

  2. Pink Roses says:

    Hello. When I read your informative article I realise how computer illiterate I am! It makes my head hurt! My daughter instructs me but I can’t see her now with covid. I’ll just keep going – I have just read the above comment. Indeed I find that frustrating too – it’s so hard to post poetry.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Yeah, I agree, the poetry bit is awful. I think part of why the new editor sucks is that people learn to use something else, and a dramatically different editor like Gutenberg just doesn’t feel right.

  3. Sue Vincent says:

    My best tip for the new editor is to stick with the classic one. Mine is still available by going site admin-all posts-add new – and choosing classic editor on the drop down. I understand not everyone’s blog is allowing this, but I’m clinging on while I can!

  4. shimusiccritic says:

    Oh, the things I have to say about Gutenberg! I like some of the shortcuts like how it’s easier to add playlists now (or maybe it always was and I’m that inept) but they have overcomplicated actually writing posts. I suspect it is part of a bigger move since folks are more inclined to go to blogs than blogs these days. If so they are making the transistion too messy and we will need more storage space to make that happen.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I don’t know what they were thinking. I honestly have considered giving up, but then I realize there’s people I otherwise wouldn’t be in touch with. There’s also the thing about authors/artists needing a self-promotion platform, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s garbage fora plethora of reasons.

  5. memadtwo says:

    When they first started it, I pointed out that it never makes sense to make things more complicated. But the happiness engineers–don’t you love that name– told me that everyone but me loved it. Also when I pointed out how it messes up poetry they told me I was wrong. So I don’t have much hope. The less bells and whistles the better in my opinion. The key to any good design is to make it simple and clear. (K)

  6. D. Wallace Peach says:

    Wow. Thank you! I used to justify all my text in the old editor and couldn’t figure out how to do it with Gutenberg. That drove me crazy (to the extent that I care about formatting). The backslash tip is also a new one for me too. 😀

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