Disable the WordPress Block Editor’s Fullscreen Mode With a Plugin

Apr 2, 2021 | 0 comments

On Wednesday, Johan Jonk Stenström released Fullscreen Mode B Gone to the WordPress plugin directory. As the catchy title implies, it gets rid of the block editor’s fullscreen mode.

As anyone who prefers to opt-out of fullscreen mode knows, there are moments when you log into WordPress and hop over to the post editor only to find it is not in the state you last left it. It is a slight annoyance but enough to dampen the user experience.

Nearly two years ago, Andrew Duthie opened a ticket for storing users’ editor preferences to the database instead of their browser’s local storage. This includes basic settings like toggling whether fullscreen mode should be enabled. Local storage is not considered sticky, at least not permanently. It can be cleared in a variety of ways. This means that users must deal with disabling the default fullscreen editor more often than they should. It is also not stored when switching browsers, using private tabs, or when working on multiple sites across the same network.

The ultimate goal should be to persistently save preferences on a per-user basis. There has been little movement on that ticket in the past year. Most comments have come in the form of closed duplicates.

In the meantime, users must look for alternative solutions. That’s where plugins like Fullscreen Mode B Gone offer some assistance.

The plugin is simple. It toggles the block editor’s fullscreen mode off. Regardless of whether users have switched browsers, cleared their local storage, or anything else, they can safely enter the editor without being bombarded by a different editing experience.

WordPress block editor for new post without fullscreen mode enabled.
New post with fullscreen mode disabled.

Both an upside and a downside of the plugin is that it resets fullscreen mode each time the user opens the editor. It does not address the sticky issue. For users like me who prefer to always have fullscreen mode disabled or only turn it on once in a while, this is ideal. However, for users who want WordPress to remember the last state, it is best to skip this plugin. The default experience is better suited to what you need.

One of the things I dislike about how the editor works is that it requires JavaScript for plugins to make changes like this. Even if it is merely a few lines of code, it still calls for one more HTTP response just to alter a default setting. At least with PHP, a simple filter would have sufficed.

This is not Stenström’s first editor-related plugin. He has a plugin titled Fatso, which widens the content canvas for users who prefer more space when writing. Also, continuing with the “B Gone” branding, he released Welcome To the Block Editor B Gone a week ago. Similar to his current plugin, it disables the block editor welcome message permanently.

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