Common Issues and Troubleshooting WordPress 3.9

WordPress 3.9 Featured Images
photo credit: IronRodArt – Royce Bair (“Star Shooter”)cc

After the release of WordPress 3.9, I decided to help out in the support forums since they usually become busy soon after a release. Providing support in the forums gives you a clear indication on how well a release is being received and whether or not anything major broke. After spending five hours in the support forum, here are some common issues being reported by users.

Visual Editor Disappeared Or Is Broken

A lot of users are reporting that the visual editor has either disappeared or is broken. Considering the number of changes that took place with TinyMCE in 3.9, this is not surprising. In most cases, having users go through the following process solved the problem.

  1. Deactivate ALL plugins.
  2. Switch to default TwentyFourteen theme.
  3. Manually empty browser cache.

If the visual editor doesn’t work after disabling all plugins and switching to the default theme, there could be a JavaScript issue. Follow these instructions to diagnose JavaScript errors in your browser. Then, open up a new support forum thread and make sure to add the following information:

  • the browsers that you are experiencing the problem in
  • whether SCRIPT_DEBUG fixed the error or not
  • the JavaScript error
  • the location of the error – both the file name and the line number
  • the context of the error – including the whole error stack will help developers

This detailed information will help volunteer moderators determine the best way to solve your problem.

Master List Of Known Issues

Themes and plugins confirmed to be the cause of the problem are documented and added to the master list of known issues with WordPress 3.9. So far, the list of plugins is up to eight with at least one in the process of being fixed.

The support team tries their best to help everyone with any WordPress problem even if it’s for a commercial theme or plugin. However, due to the great variety of existing themes and plugins it is nearly impossible to know everything. Your best option is to contact the developer for support. It’s always best to go to where the theme/plugin is officially supported when trying to get support.

How To Create An Audio Playlist

A few users have asked where the link is to create an audio playlist. In order to see the link to create an audio playlist, you either need existing audio files within the media library or you need to add them. It’s worth noting that if you host your media files on a content delivery network that’s not synchronized with the WordPress media library, you won’t be able to take advantage of the playlist feature.

Easy Way To Add Borders and Padding To Images Removed

Although WordPress 3.9 has refined the media editing experience, it did so at the cost of removing a feature users appreciated. In WordPress 3.8, users could easily add a border, vertical, and horizontal padding to images. WordPress 3.9 has removed this from the advanced image settings screen.

Image Properties In WordPress 3.8
Image Properties In WordPress 3.8

It’s not just those who use the self-hosted version of WordPress that are upset with the change. A support forum thread with over 430 posts is filled with users asking why the feature was removed. In some cases, staff are explaining how to use HTML code to add or remove borders to images. It’s possible that a plugin will soon be released that will restore this feature.

Use Patience When Asking For Support

Since WordPress 3.9 is a major upgrade, please exercise patience when requesting support on the forum. This guide on the Codex does a great job explaining how to get your question answered. Last but not least, if a volunteer helps solve your problem, say thank you. During my five-hour support stint, I realized first-hand that providing support is a thankless job. Reading thank you notes and seeing users express joy from having their problem solved gave me the energy to keep on going.

I encourage you to take 15-20 minutes to browse the support forum and help out where you can. Not only will you get a better understanding of problems users are facing, but you’ll learn a lot in the process. To anyone who’s taken the time to answer a support question on the forum, thank you!


  1. On the ball as usual Jeff – fortunately I always disable the visual editor.
    Many thanks for the info.Report

  2. I’m in your camp @Keith Davis ;-)

    Jeff I don’t know about switching to another theme. Whenever I switch themes and then go back, my widgets scatter! Or, has that been fixed in 3.9?

    Thank you for letting us know Jeff – I think all WP news outlets should be reporting issues sites are having with major upgrades.

    I’m going to hold off this upgrade for several weeks so that the plugin authors have time to update their code.Report

  3. The TEXT post window is now ruined. We can’t drag text into it, duh. The damn automatic media uploading “feature” won’t let us. Is there a way to turn it off?Report

  4. WordPress 3.9 is really awesome but I discovered link edit is not working on the recent update on my blog, any assistance on this?Report

    1. Its a js loader script problem…
      Add this to your config.php file
      define(‘CONCATENATE_SCRIPTS’, false);….
      It will solve all issuesReport

  5. They removed borders & padding!? Yikes! This will definitely affect my co-workers who rely on me for my HTML knowledge.Report

  6. Significant UI changes seem to always come with growing pains that frustrate folks. Media handling has been long overdue for some major upgrades so I’m confident working through these issues will be well worth the pain overall for the continued growth of WordPress and our community.Report

    1. I’m using the latest Zedity version downloaded from the official WordPress page ( and it works great. Maybe you’re still using an old version but hey, just download the latest one and everything is fine.Report

  7. Thank you Jeff, and all other volunteers for the support. I was having an issue with WCK custom fields, but it is fixed now. :-)Report

  8. Visual Composer plugin is a total mess with the upgrade. I’d suggest waiting to upgrade until plugins are caught up and updated.Report

  9. @Jeff – well done for taking the time to help out on the support forums. We do the same on a forum for our main product expertise which is with an E-Commerce product and while it can be frustrating at times it is also very rewarding.

    As far as WordPress functionality being broken by plugins or themes, I wonder how many people complaining bothered to check reported compatibility of all of their enabled plugins against 3.9 before doing an upgrade ? A few minutes doing that and making enquiries with the plugin authors for any not reported as compatible before doing the upgrade would stop a lot of the issuesReport

    1. “…how many people complaining bothered to check reported compatibility of all of their enabled plugins against 3.9 before doing an upgrade ?”

      Am I the only person in the world who still deactivates all plugins before upgrading and reactivates after the upgrade?

      At least that way you know if you have a plugin conflict and know where to start fixing things.Report

      1. With the move toward automated background updates (dot-releases today, sure – but major releases or even rolling releases tomorrow), I wonder if Plugin deactivation/reactivation should be a built-in part of the automatic update workflow?Report

      2. I’m talking about something more robust, similar to browser extensions, that only reactivates a Plugin if it is verified to work with the just-updated version of WordPress core.

        (Granted, such a workflow would require a far more robust “verification” system than what we have now – but at the very least, it could query the “Works up to” header tag, and alert the user if the Plugin itself doesn’t indicate that it works with the current version of core.)Report

      3. @Keith – I totally agree! I ALWAYS deactivate all plugins before updating and then activate one at a time. Some say 3-5 at a time; however I disagree – better to take the time one at a time then scratching your head when you get that fatal error and have to go back.Report

      4. Hi @Overall

        “…and then activate one at a time. Some say 3-5 at a time”

        Fabulous idea… that narrows down the search for the guilty party – will do that in future.Report

  10. I’m also worried about my posts because I’m unable to edit my posts after updating WP 3.9 and

    i’m using Rock Page Builder, any solution for this?Report

    1. @wahabmehmood it’s most likely a plugin conflict. Deactivate all plugins and then activate one at a time to find which plugin is causing the conflict and not allowing you to edit posts.Report

      1. @OVERHALL I have used this method by deactivating all the plugins but this trick is not working for me. As I’ve mentioned above that I’m using rock page builder and I’m sure that their is some sort of confilict with theme that I’m using, again WP 3.9 ahaaa :(Report

  11. Thanks for the help Jeff.

    I was using the “Ultimate NoFollow” plugin and the “Insert Link” worked after disabling it. I see the plugin authors have updated it and made it compatible with WP 3.9. Is it safe now to enable the plugin? Please advice.Report

  12. Well I tried the deactivate plug ins, switching to the Twenty Fourteen theme and emptying the browser cache. I’m now in a worse position than I was before. I cannot login to my blog because it redirects me to some weird link and then gives a “Problem loading page” link. Now what do I do?Report

  13. Panic – unable to edit posts after 3.9 install – the editing ‘kitchen sink’ has disappeared
    Still in panic mode – read a few blog posts. Decide to clear out browser cache and un-install all plugins, none of which are on the list above.
    Joy – I reactivate all the plug-ins I use regularly. The kitchen sink returns.Report

  14. Regarding the Visual Editor issue being broken, lost or hiding under a rock… I went through all my plugins and found something interesting. Withing the JET PACK for wordpress there are many plugins that can be deactivated. 5 of them kept visual editor unoperational for me. They are as follows in case anyone wants to check for themselves.

    Within Jet Pack:

    Related Posts
    Posts by Email

    Hope this helps many of you….Report

  15. Why in the world would they remove the ability to add/remove borders and padding to a photo—that’s about the most basic function any blogger uses EVERY DAY! Only a bunch of engineers who don’t use media would make the changes that are in place with this upgrade. Now that they’ve made it automatic, we’re stuck with it and I’ve got to explain to 20 bloggers why their new posts look like crap unless they become a coder and start screwing around with the HTML language.Report

    1. Yeah, this really bites. I’ve got dozens of clients already jamming my inbox asking why they can’t control images like they used to. As much work as it represents, I’m seriously considering rolling every website back to ver. 3.8.3 until someone with some sense recognizes what a colossal mistake this “Smith” mess is.Report

      1. Agree 100% with this. Big problem. What made them think that was a good thing?Report

  16. My Visual editor is completely messed up. Did all you suggested but ‘Insert Media’ option no longer opens in a lightbox but opens as a fullscreen page. Same happens to other tools.Report

  17. Hi – I hope my message finds you well.

    I confirm too, that the WP 3.9 upgrade is creating unnecessary issues for website design firm like ours with many clients.

    The previous editor worked well for our clients. In fact, the WP editor’s ease of use (and functionality) was one of the primary reasons for switching many of our Joomla & Drupal clients to WordPress.

    It’s hard to comprehend why WordPress would make the decision to remove some of the basic and helpful blog image padding functionality and the simple ability for our non-html savvy client to add HEX/custom colors (their brand colors) from the editor.

    We have also experienced, several other major bugs with the editor across several websites (not just a particular website with a plugin incompatibility) with copy and pasting, troubles creating hyperlinks, editor pop ups not working or weirdly placed in some browsers, etc, etc.

    Perhaps some of the new features of WP 3.9. are cool but for now, because of the editor, we’re back in the 90s and having to explain our clients why some of the most basic editing features are gone or not working.

    WordPress team – please fix the editor or offer quickly an option that would allow our customers to keep their old editor until you have the new one fully tested and working.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    Principal at BC.Report

  18. hi please i need help i tried updating to 3.9 it failed ever since then i have not been able to access any part of the website including the admin.this is what displays instead

    Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_register_plugin_realpath() in /home/content/48/9865148/html/layoleoyatogun/wp-settings.php on line 213Report

    1. @webmasterlayole – I would create a new folder in FTP or File Manager – move all the plugins in the folder and then one by one move then back to the real plugins folder. After dragging back into real plugins folder see if you have the error. If you move one back into the real plugins folderand get the fatal error – move it back out. Let me know if this worked for you.Report

    2. Hi, I had the same problem. Looks like some core files are missing. Here’s what helped – before you try any of the following make sure you have a backup of your files and database :) The perfect solution would be to manually update WordPress 3.9, but if you need a quick fix: download and overwrite two files /wp-includes/plugin.php and /wp-includes/functions.php Good luck!Report

  19. I don’t have any of these plugins, but I’ve been experiencing issues after upgrading to WordPress 3.9. I have been trying to work on posts that are in drafts, yet I’m unable to add any images, edit the permalink, schedule postings, and the text editor is MIA. However, I’m only able to add images in new posts (I’m unable to edit the post after awhile, though). Also, the text editor shows up for new posts. I have tried deactivating all of the basic plugins, but I’m still having some issues. I believe it could possibly be a theme issue (I have Lifestyle Child Theme).Report

  20. Can you people go to the forum and make a thread each of you for the problems you are having? Maybe fixes will go to WordPress 3.9.1

    They can’t fix what they do not know.Report

  21. I feel for those of you experiencing problems, but it’s most likely your themes or plugin incompatibility. not WordPress core.

    I have 3.9 installed and I’m not able to recreate what you’re experiencing. It’s best to troubleshoot where the problem is by disabling your custom theme and plugins and add them back one by one to see what causes the problem, then go back to that provider for assistance.Report

  22. Was there ever a fix found for the new TinyMCE version breaking custom plugin added buttons?

    Can’t find answers on this anywhere. ThanksReport

  23. my problem are widgets disappearing i have tried everything deactivating plugins, changing themes you name it have done. even with the default themes they keep disappearing i wish someone could helpReport

    1. widgets will disappear if you change your theme to one that has different widget areas. check you are not using Jetpack Visibility also.Report


    And STOP telling us to to sit on our hands and be patient for 3.9.1 which isn’t out to fix the problem….

    Especially messed up is the gnomes talking about 4.0….

    We LOVE word press, but take care of your homework before inventing anymore NEWS stuff, eh?Report

    1. There is no auto update between major versions. The Auto-update only affects minor versions, so 3.9 to 3.9.1, it has never covered 3.8 to 3.9 for example.Report

  25. Is anyone having issues with custom/specialized page templates with WP 3.9 i can not access my pages that are using page templates e.g using page-services.php it just sends me to index page.

    Thank you in advanceReport

    1. Sounds silly, but check that the slug is actually called “services” and not “services-2” or something?Report

  26. I am not able to create hyperlinks in visual editor ctrl+k opens dialog box, but the button for adding link is dead.Report

  27. I have the same problem, my dashboard style was broken. After deactivate Use Google Libraries plugin the problem was solved.Report

  28. Read more insert is not working on any of my sites. I use StudioPress. Anyone else find this problem?Report

  29. I’m having issues with the Text editor. I can’t click on it, which seems to be related to the WP javascript. Anyone else having this issue? I’m running WP version 3.9.1. All plugins are up-to-date.

    *Note: I’ve reached out to WP on twitter (as @colleenrpowell) and no one has responded in days. I know WP is continually inundated with support requests, but waiting for over a week with no response is unacceptable. I have blog posts to publish for my company and can’t do so until this issue is resolved.

    Your prompt reply would be much appreciated.



    1. @Colleen – did you try the support forums? Also for best results, make sure to provide useful information about your setup (i.e. which theme and plugins are installed) and any troubleshooting steps you’ve tried previously (disabling custom themes, disabling all plugins, viewing your browser’s console log to see any error messages, etc.).Report

  30. I am not able to receive e-mail alerts when comments are posted. I do, however, get emails from my contact form, so I believe it’s in the actual core program. I’m seeing others complaining of the same behavior once they went to 3.9. Any suggestions on what to do?Report

  31. I have a different problem and i don’t think i am the only one on this planet with this issue.
    When i switch themes in wordpress, some themes display the “thumbnail” of the featured image as the featured image of the post, which cause the little thumbnail to stretch upto 800px (width). It looks horrible! I got its solution as well, i need to re-upload the image and then set it as featured image again. But i can’t repeat the process for every post? Kindly, help!Report

    1. Try the Regenerate Thumbnails Plugin.

      Each Theme defines the width and height of the featured image, and WordPress creates images with exactly the sizes specified. So when you switch from one Theme to another, all of your featured images have already been generated according to the size(s) defined by the previous Theme. So, when the new Theme attempts to display a featured image, WordPress doesn’t have one at the size defined by the new Theme, and attempts to display the next-closest size for that image.

      By using a Plugin such as Regenerate Thumbnails when you switch Theme, you can force WordPress to resize your featured images.

      Note: this is the sort of question that is ideally suited for the WordPress support forums. There are lots of people there who can help with issues such as this one, and I’m sure this specific question has been asked and answered many times.Report

  32. I uninstalled Jetpack (not using it yet). Eureka! I can edit posts now! Thank you all!Report

  33. I’m having an issue where the audio playlist loops indefinitely by default, and I can’t find a way to keep it from looping. I tried adding variations of loop=”false”/loop=”no”/etc to the shortcode, to no avail. Is this an issue anyone else has noticed?

    I’m using a child theme of Twenty Eleven.Report

  34. I feel for those of you experiencing problems, but it’s most likely your themes or plugin incompatibility. not WordPress core.

    I have 3.9 installed and I’m not able to recreate what you’re experiencing. It’s best to troubleshoot where the problem is by disabling your custom theme and plugins and add them back one by one to see what causes the problem, then go back to that provider for assistance.Report

Comments are closed.