Gravatar Guide for WordPress Users

Updated on May 26, 2023

Gravatar is a service for displaying avatars on the Internet. If you're a user, you can create a profile picture that follows you to other websites. It will automatically show your profile picture on any website utilizing Gravatar.

We'll go over everything you need to know about Gravatar in this post, with a particular emphasis on WordPress. Despite that, anyone can benefit from this article - we will get into WordPress at the end!

This post includes:

What Is Gravatar?

Gravatar allows you to create a unique user avatar that you can use on various websites across the Internet. Alternatively, if you have a website, Gravatar makes it simple to display unique avatars for all your users.

Gravatar is a portmanteau for Globally Recognized Avatar. The idea is that a person can upload an avatar to one location (the Gravatar website) and then have that avatar recognized by other websites automatically.

The basic process works like this:

  • Create a Gravatar account using your email address. You can add multiple email addresses if needed.
  • Upload your desired avatar picture to Gravatar.
  • When you use your email address on a website that uses Gravatar, that website will automatically use the avatar image that you set up with Gravatar.

Gravatar comes from a company called Automattic, which is the same company behind It is owned by Matt Mullenweg, one of the co-founders of the open-source WordPress software (which differs from Because of this, Gravatar is built into WordPress, though many other sites and services use it.

Some examples of websites or services which use Gravatar are WordPress, as we mentioned previously, Github, Stack Overflow, Atlassian, Disqus, and Slack, among many others.

How to Create a Gravatar

Creating your own Gravatar image is easy and 100% free. Here's how to do it:

Go to the Gravatar website and click the Create your Gravatar button:

You'll then be prompted to either:

  • Create a new free account (if you don't have one already);
  • Log into your existing account. is a service from the same parent company as Gravatar. Gravatar uses as its sign-on solution, and creating a account is 100% free.
  • If you just created your account, you might see another prompt on the Gravatar website telling you to sign in. Go ahead and click that button if you see it. Or, you might already be connected, in which case you can jump to the next step;
  • You'll see your email address and a prompt to add a new Gravatar image. Upload an image from your preferred source when you click that. Or, you can take a new picture with your webcam.
  • Once you select your image, you'll have the option to crop it if needed. Or, you can leave it as the original. Once you're happy with how it looks, click Crop Image:
  • Then, you can set a rating. That helps website/service owners ensure they don't accidentally have explicit pictures on their sites. If it's just a typical avatar, choose the Suitable For Display on All Websites option and click Set Rating.

And that's it! You're all done. If you want, you can repeat the process to add more avatars. Gravatar also lets you set up some profile information in the My Profile tab. However, you shouldn't feel compelled to fill any of this out, as most people will see your avatar picture.

How to Use Your Gravatar

The nice thing about Gravatar is that you don't need to do anything special to use it. All you need to do is use the email address associated with your Gravatar account.

As long as:

  • You use that email;
  • The website/service supports Gravatar;

Then your avatar image should show up automatically.

If you want to associate multiple email addresses with your avatars, you can add new email addresses from your Gravatar dashboard.

You'll need to click the link in the activation email that Gravatar sends your new email address to make it live.

If you want to look up your Gravatar image (or someone else's), the Gravatar profile search feature can help. It lets you look up someone's profile picture by entering their email address.

To use this feature:

  • Click here to go to the search form.
  • Enter the email address that you want to search for.
  • Click Check.

You'll then see the different profile picture options.

Improve Gravatar Usage On Your Site

Now, let's start moving into the WordPress-specific Gravatar tips for WordPress web admins. While Gravatar makes it easy to have actual profile pictures on WordPress, there are two potential issues:

  • User experience;
  • Performance.

Regarding user experience, the issue is that visitors can't change their profile pictures from your WordPress site. Instead, they have to do it from the Gravatar website. That isn't a big deal in your comments section. If you allow user registration, for example (say, for a membership site or an online course), it would not be convenient to make your users go to another site to change their pictures.

In terms of performance, there are two potential issues:

  • Your visitor's browsers have to query a third-party server to load those images. That is, they require third-party HTTP requests.
  • You can't control browser caching behavior because the images aren't on your server.

So – let's go over some ways to fix those issues using free plugins.

How to Cache Gravatar Images on WordPress

One option to improve Gravatar performance is to cache the Gravatar images on your local server. That means your site will pull in the picture from Gravatar and save it on your server. That way, the file will load from your own server, which gives you more control over performance (though it also means you'll need to use your own server's bandwidth to load the images).

Here are a couple of options for plugins that offer Gravatar cache, as well as a few other functionalities:

How to Disable Gravatar on WordPress

If you want to improve performance further, you can completely disable Gravatar. Of course, this means that your site won't have any profile pictures in the comments section or for registered users (though we will share a way to fix this in the next section).

  • If you're only concerned about your comments section, WordPress includes a native feature to hide avatars. You can access it by going to SettingsDiscussion.

  • If you want to disable Gravatar entirely on WordPress, including for registered users, you can use the free Disable User Gravatar plugin. It will stop your site from connecting to the Gravatar service at all. The plugin starts working as soon as you activate it. If you go to SettingsDiscussion, you'll get a new option to show a custom default avatar image (if you leave the Show Avatars setting enabled).

How to Allow WordPress User Profile Pictures Without Gravatar

What if you disable Gravatar on your WordPress site, but you still want to have user profile pictures? Plugins can help with that as well. Specifically, plugins that let users choose their own avatars by uploading custom images.

Here are a couple of popular options:

  • Simple Local Avatars – lets users upload an avatar directly to your site. It also supports Gravatar as an option or allows you to disable Gravatar.
  • Basic User Avatars – includes an option to let users manage their avatars from the front end of your site.

Quick Recap

Gravatar makes it easy to set up user avatar pictures:

  • If you're a user, you can create your own Gravatar account and upload a custom avatar. That avatar will be automatically used whenever you register at a website that supports Gravatar using the email address associated with your Gravatar account.
  • If you're a website owner, you can use Gravatar on your site to display avatars from users.

If you create your website with WordPress, WordPress will use Gravatar images for comments and user profiles by default. However, you can find lots of Gravatar WordPress plugins to adjust this. 

In conclusion, Gravatar is a quick and straightforward solution to create an avatar that can be used on multiple websites simultaneously. It will also allow the visitors to your website to use their avatars without having to create a new one specifically for your website.

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