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Allow WordPress Users to Create Only Lower-level Accounts

WordPress arrives with five user roles that you’ll see on a new site.

  • Subscriber
  • Contributor
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Administrator

These roles are in a hierarchy from Subscriber up to Administrator. Subscribers are at the bottom with very few permissions and each subsequent role has more permissions.

If you need a refresher on these roles, click below to find out more about each role:

We had a question from a user who wondered if this hierarchy could be used when creating users. Is it possible to allow Authors to only create Subscribers and Contributors? Or is it possible to allow Contributors to create only Subscribers?

Yes, it is possible with the PressPermit Pro plugin.

PressPermit Pro has a feature called “Limit User Edit by Level”. If this feature is enabled, it stops user from editing the account of anyone with a higher level.


How to block WordPress users from managing higher-level users

To get started, you will need PressPermit Pro installed.

Next, create a user with the “Editor” role.

Third, you'll need to edit the permissions for the Editor role. This is because, by default, only Administrators can create users in WordPress. I used the Capability Manage Enhanced plugin to make sure Editors had these permissions:

These permissions allow them to access the “Users” link in the WordPress admin area and also create new user accounts.

Thanks to PressPermit Pro, this image shows what they will see. This new user can access Editor and Author accounts, but not the Administrator account.

higher level users

If Editors do try to create a new user, they will not be able to choose the Administrator role:

create new user


About the author

Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.