In this article, I’ll be showing you what’s new in the latest WordPress 6.4 update! With this update, WordPress gets one step closer toward its goal of being a more collaborative and feature-rich CMS.
What's In This Post
- New Twenty Twenty-Four Theme Now Available
- New Image Lightbox Feature
- Group Blocks Get Background Images
- Navigation Block Now Supports Adding Buttons
- New Vertical Text Orientation Setting
- List View Receives Multiple New Features
- New Pattern Category Feature
- Share Patterns Across Multiple Sites
- Alignment for Blocks in Synced Patterns Now Updates Sitewide
- Define the Aspect Ratio for Placeholder Images
- Toolbars for List, Quote, and Navigation Blocks Improved
- Command Palette Gets New Shortcuts in the Site Editor
New Twenty Twenty-Four Theme Now Available
WordPress has officially launched its next major theme – the Twenty Twenty-Four theme! This theme aims for greater flexibility to accommodate a variety of use-cases and industry professionals. For example, there are variations of the theme for small business owners/entrepreneurs, writers/bloggers, and photographers/creatives.
The theme has also received many performance improvements to help speed up page loading and offer better SEO out-of-the box.
New Image Lightbox Feature
WordPress images FINALLY get a “lightbox” feature by default. This means that when a site visitor clicks on an image on a webpage, the image will expand to show its full-size version, or at least a larger version than the preview/thumbnail.
This new feature is available for the Image block and Gallery block. To enable this feature, simply click on the image inside the Block Editor and toggle the “Enable on click” option under the Block tab of the Settings Sidebar for that block.
Group Blocks Get Background Images
WordPress 6.4 introduces the ability to add background images to “Group” blocks. This means having background images is no longer restricted to just the “Cover” block, providing designers with more flexibility when designing webpages.
To utilize this feature, click on the Group block you want to add the image to, then navigate to the “Styles” tab in the Block Settings sidebar. Scroll down to the “Background” section and click to add your background image.
It appears that at this time there is no “overlay” color feature to add over the image. So, if you want to brighten or darken the background image to make text more visible, for example, you’ll have to perform those edits prior to uploading the image.
A super handy new feature in WordPress 6.4 is the ability to add the “Buttons” block to your navigation menus. You can now easily add an eye-catching button to your main navigation, all without needing to code! This is a great way to quickly improve the user experience on your site and drive conversions.
To access this feature, you need to locate the “Header” template part where your main navigation is located. Go to Appearance>Editor to open the Site Editor, then click on “Patterns.” Scroll down to the bottom to where it says “Template Parts” and click on “Header.” Click the pattern labeled “Header” that displays here.
From inside the Header template part, which will now be open in the Site Editor, click on the Navigation block. Over in the Block Settings sidebar, click the “+” sign that appears under the “Menu” section (under the “List View” tab). Type “Buttons” in the search field or select the “Buttons” option if it displays there by default. You can now add text to your button, link it to any page or section on your page, and customize the styling of the button!
When you’re finished, click “Save” to save your changes. The changes will now populate anywhere the main “Header” template part is displayed throughout your site.
New Vertical Text Orientation Setting
WordPress 6.4 officially supports vertical text! The orientation of text can be changed from the standard horizontal text, to the new vertical text from within the Paragraph and Heading blocks.
You can change the orientation of your text from within the block editor by clicking on the block that contains the text you want to edit, then navigate over to the Block settings sidebar.
Under “Typography,” click the kabob menu icon (three dots menu) and select “Text orientation.” A small pair of orientation icons will now appear – click the “vertical” icon to make your text vertical.
To customize the vertical text further, simply change the text alignment using the Block Toolbar. “Align Right” will make the text read from the bottom up, while “Align Left” will flip the text so that it reads from the top down.
List View Receives Multiple New Features
The “List View” feature in WordPress has been garnering an increasingly important role with each new iteration of WordPress. This most recent release is no difference, with the List View receiving more attention from WordPress contributors.
The two most notable new features added to the List View include image previews and editable Group block labels.
The List View’s new image previews allow you to quickly see what images may be contained in a block, most notably a gallery or image block.
A positive side effect of this new feature is that finding specific blocks should now be much easier, especially when you have many nested blocks and instances of the same block type (i.e. many image blocks on a single page).
Rename Group Blocks
The latter feature mentioned is the new Group block renaming feature. You can now rename any Group block inside the List View, which makes it easier to label different group blocks.
Once again, this feature should make it easier to find various Group blocks throughout a webpage, especially when you have many different groups throughout.
Duplicate Blocks with a New Shortcut Key
The last new List View feature I’ll mention here is the brand new shortcut key for duplicating blocks. Simply use ctrl+shift+d (Windows) or cmd+shift+d (MAC) to duplicate any block or block group. This will not only duplicate the list item in the List View, but will also duplicate that actual block or set of blocks on your webpage in the Block Editor.
New Pattern Category Feature
With this latest release of WordPress comes a new feature allowing you to categorize a newly created Pattern (a collection of predefined/pre-styled blocks). Since Patterns are organized inside the “Patterns” tab of the Block Inserter, this new feature makes it easy to quickly sort your new Patterns and find them when you need them.
To use this feature, locate the block or group of blocks you want to convert to a pattern. Click the “Options” kabob icon in the toolbar and select “Create Pattern.”
In the window that pops up, type the name you want to assign your new Pattern, then use the new “Category” field to either select the name of an existing category or type a new category name.
Hit the enter key to apply a new category name. Click “Create” to create the new pattern with an assigned category.
Share Patterns Across Multiple Sites
One of the more awesome new features that’s flown under the radar is the ability to export and import patterns as JSON files to easily share and use patterns across multiple sites. Don’t know what a JSON file is? Don’t worry – you don’t need to mess with the actual JSON file to get the feature to work.
Simply navigate to Appearance>Editor to access the Site Editor. Next, navigate to the “Patterns” section. Locate the pattern you’d like to export and click the three-dots/kabob menu link. Select “Export as JSON” from the menu.
Next, choose or create a new folder where you’d like to save the Pattern file, name the file, then click “Save.”
Go to the WP Admin of the site where you’d like to upload the pattern and once again navigate to the Site Editor (Appearance>Editor>Patterns). Click the “+” icon next to the “Patterns” title and select “Import Pattern from JSON.”
Select the JSON file from your computer and click “Open.” You should now see your pattern under the “My Patterns” category.
Note that site-wide styles won’t be transferred to your Pattern on the new site, but you can manual edit the Pattern’s styles to style it to your liking.
Alignment for Blocks in Synced Patterns Now Updates Sitewide
WordPress 6.4 adds additional functionality to Synced Patterns by applying new alignment settings across all instances of a Sycned Pattern.
Simply apply a new alignment setting to a Synced Pattern through the Block Editor, then click “Publish,” followed by “Save” to save the changes across all Synced Patterns (you’ll see a list here with all Synced Patterns where this change will be applied – with a checkmark next to each item).
Define the Aspect Ratio for Placeholder Images
Next up in WordPress 6.4 is a new feature that lets you set the aspect ratio of placeholder images on your webpages or blog post.
To use this feature, insert an image block into your webpage. Then, in the Block Settings sidebar, under the “Settings” tab, click the “Aspect Ratio” dropdown and select the aspect ratio you want to set for this block. Any future images you add to this block will now have whatever aspect ratio you set.
This feature is ideal for Templates because you can add a placeholder image to a webpage design without worrying about the aspect ratio changes based on the uploaded image.
Toolbars for List, Quote, and Navigation Blocks Improved
WordPress has made improvements to these three writing blocks in order to improve the writing experience in WordPress and make it more consistent.
Command Palette Gets New Shortcuts in the Site Editor
The WordPress community has implemented some new shortcuts for the Command Palette feature that was originally introduced in WordPress 6.3. From the command palette, which you can access with the ctrl+k (Windows) or cmd+k (MAC) shortcut key, you can now open and close the list view, show or hide breadcrumbs at the bottom of the Site Editor, or toggle “Distraction Free Mode” on or off.
To perform any of these actions, you simply need to hit ctrl+k to bring up the Command Palette, start to type the name of the action (i.e. “bread” for “Hide block breadcrumbs” or “list” for “Toggle list view”) then click on the action from the list that displays. If the action is the first on the list, you simply need to hit the enter key on your keyboard.
Command Palette Language Improved
In addition to the above new feature, the Command Palette has also received improved language when displaying actions and other search results.
For the most part, the language has been simplified so that the action or tool you’re searching for displays with minimal text.
For example, when you begin to type “Nav,” instead of saying “Open navigation” it will simply say “Navigation.” Clicking this entry will open the Navigation screen in the Site Editor.
WordPress 6.4 has also received over 100 performance improvements, including improvements to how images, themes, and other important page resources load. These performance improvements should improve the user experience for designers, as well as help make WordPress more optimized for search out of the box (which is great for SEO and page rankings!).
That’s it for What’s New in WordPress 6.4! If you want to learn more about WordPress and designing website, check out my WordPress Simplified 2023: How to Build Powerful Websites course on Udemy. You can also watch my WordPress video tutorials or read any of my WordPress help articles (available in 40+ languages).