New WordPress Plugin Shows Users Where a Plugin’s Settings Link Is Upon Activation

A common frustration I’ve experienced in WordPress after installing a plugin is figuring out where the settings link is located. It can be a top-level menu item or tucked away in a sub-menu. Sometimes, the plugin doesn’t warrant a settings link.

A new plugin called Show Plugin Menu Items on Activation created by Kellen Mace and Gary Kovar seeks to calm the chaos. When a plugin is activated, an Admin Notice is displayed that informs the user where to configure it.

AkismetSettingsLocation
Where to Find Akismet’s Settings

The notice can be dismissed by either clicking the dismiss button or hovering over the menu location. The notice does not display for plugins that include a welcome page or wizard such as BuddyPress and WooCommerce.

The number of admin pointers that are displayed depends on the number of menu items that are added. For example, if a plugin adds three menu items, three admin pointers are displayed.

When four or more menu items are added, a notice is shown at the top of the screen that says, ‘Many new plugin menu items were added.’ If no menu items are added, a notice displays at the top of the screen that says, ‘No new plugin menu items were added.’

I tested the plugin on WordPress 4.7.3 and didn’t encounter any issues. Although plugins ought to make finding the settings link easier upon activation, this particular plugin has me wondering if displaying these types of admin notices should be a core feature. In my experience, plugin authors rarely take advantage of admin pointers to explain where to go or what to do next after being activated.

Related to the above, I encourage plugin developers to read this article by Hugh Lashbrooke, that explains how to add a settings link to the plugins listing page. Adding a settings link to the plugins listing page puts it in a predictable location and is something I as a user appreciate.

8 Comments


  1. This is a very nice idea, but there is a false assumption that plugins have a settings page, and that if they have, that is the only settings the plugin has.

    people that rely on such a method for discovering the relevant settings will have hard time with plugins that introduce widgets, shortcodes, user settings, or enhancements to wordpress settings. In the end, there is no real replacement for reading the documentation.

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  2. Adding a plugin settings link is on of the first things I do when developing a new plugin.

    It really isn’t that hard and saves a lot of confusion when looking for the settings page for a plugin you’re not familiar with.

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  3. So this plugin is actually detecting if a menu item, or a sub-menu item, is being added by a plugin. If there is, it’s pointing it out. Yes, there may be several settings pages, such as EDD and WOO add.

    However, the settings should all be nested in a menu item or added to a sub-menu item. This plugin is really saying, Here’s a great place to start looking for settings / options, after activating a plugin.

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  4. Why doesn’t WP core designate an area/section of the admin menu where all plugins have to display their settings menu. I’ve been thinking about the annoyance of hunting down where a plugin has hidden its setting page link/menu.

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  5. Awesome! Definitely going to use this plugin. I can’t tell you how many plugins I’ve abandoned because I couldn’t figure out where it put its elements. Some of them could have been the next great plugin, but if I can’t figure out where they put the settings/interactions, I can’t use it.

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  6. Nice plugin, but I think it would be much better if this feature be included as default in the future update of wordpress

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  7. This is a nice little plugin that can be helpful for some of us. But what if a WordPress beginner has multiple of these kind of ‘help-plugins’? Will the site performance be negatively affected? And if it will, will it just affect the back-end, or also the front-end?

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  8. Very nice plugin but, when you activate plugins that do not have settings page, this points you in the wrong direction.

    I’ve just been directed to ‘Customize => Background,’ when actually the plugin I’ve activated is an ‘Activate & Enjoy’ kinda plugin..

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