How to use WordPress.com App with Self-hosted WordPress Blogs

Connect Self hosted WordPress blogs with WordPress.com Apps

The new WordPress.com desktop app is now available on all major operating platforms including Mac, Windows, and Linux. The app, built on modern technologies is seriously fast, secure, and guaranteed to enrich your writing experience.

But can you actually benefit from the apps if your blog is not powered by WordPress.com? Well, the good news is that you can also use self-hosted WordPress blogs with the WordPress.com apps.

In this tutorial, I will walk you through installing the WordPress.com apps and configuring the application to make it work with your self-hosted WordPress blog.

WordPress.com Apps

Automattic, the company behind the WordPress.com, announced the desktop versions of the WordPress app when it revealed the new WordPress.com last month.

The app was initially launched for Mac only, and it has slowly rolled out the Windows and Linux versions of the app.

Windows Desktop Application WordPress

The new WordPress.com architecture is powered by Javascript and the WP REST API. The desktop apps bring the same technology and add to the convenience of WordPress publishers.

Download WordPress Applications

Downloading and installing WordPress application is straightforward. Head over to the official website of WordPress apps – Desktop.WordPress.com and download the application for your operating system.

Once you have downloaded the application, let’s learn about its new features and how you can use it for your WordPress blogs.

For WordPress.com Blogs

If you have a WordPress.com blog, using the application should be almost similar to using the WordPress.com website.

Launch the app and login with your WordPress.com account. The interface should be already familiar to you as the desktop apps bring the same experience of the web.

Using Apps with Self-hosted WordPress

One of the primary objectives of discussing the new apps here on WPism is to guide you through the steps of making it work on your self-hosted WordPress blogs.

So, let’s get started.

The official WordPress.com announcement post cites that the apps are not just for WordPress.com and that it also allows all self-hosted WordPress blogs to access all the features.

1. Create a WordPress.com Account

The first step then is to create a WordPress.com account. Head over to signup page of WordPress.com to create a new account if you haven’t got one already.

2. Install Jetpack by WordPress.com Plugin

Once you have a WordPress.com account, you will need to install the Jetpack by WordPress.com plugin.

WordPress App Jetpack Plugin Install

Search for Jetpack from Plugins > Add Plugins within your WordPress dashboard.

Install and activate the plugin.

Once Activated, you will need to connect to the WordPress.com account.

Click on the connect button and you will be prompted to enter your WordPress.com username and password.

Connecting Jetpack Plugin with WordPress

After connecting with WordPress.com, Jetpack should automatically present you with a page where you can just activate the WordPress.com tools in a single click.

Activating WordPress Tools in Jetpack

If you miss the page or have installed Jetpack already, go to Jetpack > Settings and activate the Manage module from the list of the features. (see the screenshot below)

Activate Jetpack Manage Feature

As you can see, Jetpack is an extensive plugin bundled with more than 27 modules adding lots of features. You might want to choose and activate only those modules that are useful to you.

Now that you have installed the Jetpack plugin and successfully enabled the site management feature, you are ready to explore the WordPress app.

Installing and Configuring WordPress App

I will show you screenshots from the OS X version of the application in this post, but it should be pretty much the same on all platforms.

  • Download and install the desktop application.
  • Launch the Application and you should see a login screen. Log in with your WordPress.com account details.
  • The first tab you will see is the Reader for WordPress.com. You can read all the latest posts from the WordPress websites and tags that you follow within the app.

WordPress Application Reader

  • Click on My Sites (next to the Reader tab) and you will be taken to the Stats page of your default WordPress website.
  • Click on Switch Site if you want to manage your other websites.
  • You should see your self-hosted WordPress website on the list if you have successfully followed the above steps.

Continue reading to see the quick preview of different features of the App.

Features of WordPress.com App

So once you have the WordPress.com application installed and your website configured, let’s dig into main features of the app.

If you use WordPress.com, you should be already familiar with most of the features in the application.

Even for self-hosted WordPress users, the features aren’t anything new, you will find yourself looking at the simplified and modern version of the WordPress dashboard.

Please keep in mind that the application will undergo several iterations over time to overcome the shortcomings and continue adding more features.

Apart from the Stats section, the App is divided into three major sections for different functionalities.

1. Publish Section

You can add posts and pages and directly publish to your WordPress blog from this section. The editor looks clean and modern.

Adding New Post from WordPress Application

You can also see previously published posts and pages on your blog and edit them from this section.

Drafts and Scheduled Posts on WordPress Application

Additionally, you will see your custom post types in the sidebar, but there’s no option to edit and publish custom posts directly from the app.

2. Personalize Section

The personalize section lets you customize your themes and add/edit menus.

Customizing themes has limited options enabled for self-hosted WordPress blogs and only allows you to activate other installed themes on your website. See the screenshot below.

Personalize Themes on WordPress App

The Menus tab makes it easier to add new menus, edit existing menus, and assign menus to the menu enabled areas on your blog in a simplified interface.

Menus in WordPress Application

3. Configure Section

The configure section lets you configure the settings of your blogs for users, plugins, and few general settings.

The ability to manage plugins and auto updates synced with Jetpack plugin is one of the highlights of this section and the overall app.

You can activate/disable and bulk-edit all installed plugins on your website from this section.

Managing Plugins with WordPress Apps

Next, the settings screen lets you configure your main settings under General, Writing, Discussion, and Security categories.

Additionally, if you have enabled Sharing feature of the Jetpack plugin, you will get options to manage your sharing options including settings for buttons and social media connections.

Sharing Button Options in WordPress App

One thing I have noticed in the Configure section is that you can configure settings for all the Jetpack modules activated on your blog here.

Comparing the app to the web version of WordPress.com, I can see that it's missing the AdControl tab for websites that have the WordAds enabled for making money with their content.

WordPress.com App for Developers

WordPress.com App can also be useful to you if you are a WordPress developer. You can install and run the apps locally following these instructions on Github.

Besides, Automattic has open sourced the application and as a developer, you can hugely benefit from this. Check out the development guide to help you find where to change stuff in the application.

Conclusion

I have been using the WordPress.com desktop application since its release, and I am glad to see the app undergoing frequent updates.

The initial version had connection errors and few other shortcomings, but it has significantly improved in latest versions.

I like the modern interface and incredible speed of the application. The best thing about the App is that it lets me manage plugins and updates on almost 25+ WordPress websites.

However, I am not that fan of the reader and publishing interface of the application yet.

Are you using the WordPress.com applications? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

Update: WordPress Desktop Application Screenshots Late 2016

Pradeep Singh

Pradeep Singh

Pradeep Singh is the founder and your host here at WPism. He is an entrepreneur and blogger living his startup life based in London and Cambridge. Follow him on Twitter or like his page on Facebook.
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11 Responses

  1. Hello.
    Is it possible to have different users that use the App, with different logins ? As i know, only the jetpack user can use the App, but i can’t give this login to my differents autors :/

  2. Can you use the wordpress app for iOS with the 2-step autenticator from Google? I cannot get access to my selfhosted site and I think it is due to 2-step autenticator.
    I managed to edit a first site with the app which uses Clef for 2-step verification. As Clef can only have 1 site I use Google authenticator on a second site but I cannot access it. Is this possible?

    1. I’m not sure I understood well your question, but on “https://wordpress.org/mobile/” it says this: “WordPress mobile apps support WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress.org sites running WordPress 4.0 or higher.”.

  3. Interestingly, I can’t install a plug-in on my WordPress.com account unless I upgrade to the Business account. Is that a new requirement?

  4. HI ! Very useful indeed. Now I’ve been having huge problems with jetpack. It has blocked almost all my comments since April 2019. I’ve now disabled it and life is back to normal. Except that I can’t use my WordPress android app. Is there any other plugin that I could use instead of jetpack. Or shall I just give up on the mobile app?

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