Learn How to Customize BuddyPress Avatars

bp-circlesBuddyPress 1.9 is right around the corner and should be released in early November. The initiative to improve the BuddyPress codex has inspired a number of new pages and tutorials. Documentation leaders @hnla and @mercime have restructured the codex so that pages are not so deeply nested. They’ve also been organizing the addition of new articles and tutorials.

I decided to jump in and submit a guide on how to customize BuddyPress avatars. I wasn’t a very experienced codex contributor, but the BuddyPress folks make it very easy. They will help you to find an area where you can contribute.

In the guide to Customizing BuddyPress Avatars you will learn how to:

  • Understand the Default BuddyPress Avatar Sizes
  • Change BuddyPress Avatar Sizes Using bp-custom.php
  • Change the Default BuddyPress Avatar (Mystery Man)
  • Customize BuddyPress Avatars With CSS
  • Create Circular BuddyPress Avatars
  • Adjust the Crop Pane Window for Circular Avatars
  • Disable BuddyPress Avatar Upload

Check it out and let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see in the BuddyPress avatar tutorials.

Get Involved in BuddyPress Documentation

Lots of new guides and tutorials are popping up in the codex. Better documentation benefits everyone involved in BuddyPress. It helps to lessen the support load and also provides valuable information for those who want to extend the platform. If you want to help contribute, check out the Codex Standards & Guidelines for BuddyPress. Find an article to write and get in touch on the BuddyPress Development blog.


  1. Sarah,

    I’ve followed your comments and posts on several sites for years. Like mostly always, this is a great input and tutorial for the community. Will check it out immediatly!

    Thank you


  2. Btw: there’s one small mistake:
    if you want to use your own avatars instead of the mistery man, you have to use apostrophe before and after the url:

    define ( ‘BP_AVATAR_DEFAULT’, ‘http://example.com/default-avatar.jpg ‘);
    define ( ‘BP_AVATAR_DEFAULT_THUMB’, ‘http://example.com/default-avatar-thumb.jpg ‘);


  3. Hi Sarah, I am trying to make all my Avatars circular, so I copied these codes:
    img.avatar {
    -webkit-border-radius: 50%;
    -moz-border-radius: 50%;
    -ms-border-radius: 50%;
    -o-border-radius: 50%;
    border-radius: 50%;
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0 1px 0 #fff;
    -moz-box-shadow: 0 1px 0 #fff;
    box-shadow: 0 1px 0 #fff;

    And I put them in my theme style css, but nothing has changed. Can you please help and point me the right direction?




  4. @Dara Pich Svay – Put it in your child theme. You’ll have to figure out the correct selectors to override what your theme does. Please post in the support forums if you problems with it.


  5. Sarah, by ‘default theme’ do you mean twenty-twelve? ’cause BP doesn’t really have a default theme anymore.


  6. hello Sarah, thank you for this post. unfortunately i have not been successful at adding a custom avatar to our BP site. we are using BP version 1.9.1. i added

    define ( ‘BP_AVATAR_DEFAULT’, ‘http://www.penintime.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/avatar-1.png’ );

    to the bp-custom.php file and uploaded to /wp-content/plugins/ folder. can you please tell me why this is not working?

    thanks so much.


    1. Well that’s really interesting! Hopefully I can get a few minutes to test this out sometime soon. :)


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