WordPress 4.8 Increases Maximum Width of the Customizer Sidebar to 600 Pixels

WordPress 3.4 introduced the WordPress Customizer API and over time it has evolved from being a theme customizer to a framework for live-previewing changes to WordPress.

Since its inclusion, one of the most common complaints about the Customizer is its narrow sidebar. Even on widescreen monitors, the Customizer sidebar is only 300px wide.

This limitation was one of the motivating factors behind the Customize Pane Resizer feature plugin created in 2015. Although Customize component maintainers tried to get the feature plugin ready in time for WordPress 4.5, it didn’t make it.

In WordPress 4.8, the Customizer Sidebar Has a Variable Width

Weston Ruter, Customize component maintainer, announced that the Customizer sidebar in WordPress 4.8 has a variable width.

“Ticket #32296 was created to allow the sidebar pane to be user-resizable with a grabber just like the Dev Tools pane in Chrome can be resized,” Ruter said.

“After a lot of back and forth, the scope was reduced to remove the user-resizable aspect and to instead address a more fundamental issue that the sidebar is exceedingly and unnecessarily narrow on high-resolution displays.”

The sidebar has a minimum width of 300px and a maximum width of 600px. What users see depends on the width of their screen. I use a 21 inch widescreen monitor and the width of the sidebar on my screen is 345px.

Customizer345PixelsWide
345 Pixel Wide Customizer Sidebar

While not a huge change, the extra width is noticeable. WordPress theme and plugin developers who have built custom controls into the Customizer are highly encouraged to test WordPress 4.8 to ensure that they display properly on large screens.

“Custom controls in plugins and themes should utilize alternative approaches to doing layout than using pixel widths,” Ruter said.

“Use of percentage-based widths or flexbox will help ensure that controls will appear properly in larger displays, while also making controls future-compatible when the sidebar width could be user-resizable.”

If you’d like to be able to adjust the width of the sidebar, check out the Customize Pane Resizer plugin. I tested it on WordPress 4.8 beta 2 and it works as expected. There’s also the Fluid Customizer plugin which also allows you to manually resize the sidebar.

10 Comments


  1. Why should plugin developer bother? who is still working from a desktop? (and how am I supposed to test it? should I buy a 21 inch just for that?)

    (Just bought a 15” laptop for my mother. I don’t expect her to use it more then she used the desktop, but less wires and easier to move to clean below it)

    just another example of “(stupid) decisions, not options”. Even with your screenshot it is obvious the customizer can be easily wider… this should just be an option, or at least expose and API for it.

    In addition being wider is not enough unless the customizer can take advantage of the additional width and show more information, for example show two columns of sections instead of one. Right now all this change does is probably adding white space.

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    1. You must be having a suck day.

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    2. Mark is having a really bad day lol. First he realized people use their desktops… Whatttt??!! You mean I’ve been using Instagram to edit photos all this time I could have been using Photoshop on my computer?!! Lol. And then he had to tell us all about the new computer he bought is mom haha. I bet she would appreciate the width change and then say she raised an ungrateful son :-)

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    3. Yes, we know the only people anyone should care about are the mac fanatics with their over sized displayed. News flash, the desktop is dead, didn’t happen now, happened years ago.

      (I was using photoshop on my 14 inch laptop successfully for years, thank you)

      And about my mom, yes she will appreciate being able to get rid of the 22 inch monitor to make place to more useful stuff. In the end a 15 inch cost about the same as a tower and monitor, and if anything goes wrong she can carry it herself to a technician. this is a win win win all over.

      I do know people with a “work setup” with several monitors, but they are in a minority. As a plugin author when I hear the call to care about what is a small and declining segment, I ask myself “why should I”

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      1. Oh, now it’s clear why Mark criticize WordPress so often. He just don’t see it well on his small screen :)

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      2. Sounds like a call for crowd founding, “get mark a big monitor” :)

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  2. After a lot of back and forth, the scope was reduced to remove the user-resizable aspect

    Just curious, who has the final say to decide this kind of thing on changes? How does that work?

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    1. My instant guess is: Too many folks working on the UI complained about the UI elements not being THAT flexible yet. Flexible as in liquid or responsive. Or just one person with a very strong standing (read: strongly convincing reasons why NOT YET make the sidebar user-resizable).

      cu, w0lf.

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  3. Glad this change finally happened.

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  4. Disappointed the user-resizable aspect was removed. Unfortunately, the two plugins mentioned as alternatives for expanding the customizer area are over two years old and don’t look to be under active development.

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