User Switching

Description

This plugin allows you to quickly swap between user accounts in WordPress at the click of a button. You’ll be instantly logged out and logged in as your desired user. This is handy for for helping customers on WooCommerce sites, membership sites, testing environments, or for any site where administrators need to switch between multiple accounts.

Features

  • Switch user: Instantly switch to any user account from the Users screen.
  • Switch back: Instantly switch back to your originating account.
  • Switch off: Log out of your account but retain the ability to instantly switch back in again.
  • Compatible with Multisite, WooCommerce, BuddyPress, and bbPress.
  • Compatible with most membership and user management plugins.
  • Compatible with most two-factor authentication solutions (see the FAQ for more info).
  • Approved for use on enterprise-grade WordPress platforms such as Altis and WordPress VIP.

Note: User Switching supports versions of WordPress up to three years old, and PHP version 7.4 or higher.

Security

  • Only users with the ability to edit other users can switch user accounts. By default this is only Administrators on single site installations, and Super Admins on Multisite installations.
  • Passwords are not (and cannot be) revealed.
  • Uses the cookie authentication system in WordPress when remembering the account(s) you’ve switched from and when switching back.
  • Implements the nonce security system in WordPress, meaning only those who intend to switch users can switch.
  • Full support for user session validation where appropriate.
  • Full support for HTTPS.
  • Backed by the Patchstack Vulnerability Disclosure Program

Usage

  1. Visit the Users menu in WordPress and you’ll see a Switch To link in the list of action links for each user.
  2. Click this and you will immediately switch into that user account.
  3. You can switch back to your originating account via the Switch back link on each dashboard screen or in your profile menu in the WordPress toolbar.

See the FAQ for information about the Switch Off feature.

Other Plugins

I maintain several other plugins for developers. Check them out:

  • Query Monitor is the developer tools panel for WordPress
  • WP Crontrol lets you view and control what’s happening in the WP-Cron system

Privacy Statement

User Switching makes use of browser cookies in order to allow users to switch to another account. Its cookies operate using the same mechanism as the authentication cookies in WordPress core, which means their values contain the user’s user_login field in plain text which should be treated as potentially personally identifiable information (PII) for privacy and regulatory reasons (GDPR, CCPA, etc). The names of the cookies are:

  • wordpress_user_sw_{COOKIEHASH}
  • wordpress_user_sw_secure_{COOKIEHASH}
  • wordpress_user_sw_olduser_{COOKIEHASH}

User Switching does not send data to any third party, nor does it include any third party resources, nor will it ever do so.

See also the FAQ for some questions relating to privacy and safety when switching between users.

Accessibility Statement

User Switching aims to be fully accessible to all of its users. It implements best practices for web accessibility, outputs semantic and structured markup, adheres to the default styles and accessibility guidelines of WordPress, uses the accessibility APIs provided by WordPress and web browsers where appropriate, and is fully accessible via keyboard.

User Switching should adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 at level AA when used with a recent version of WordPress where its admin area itself adheres to these guidelines. If you’ve experienced or identified an accessibility issue in User Switching, please open a thread in the User Switching plugin support forum and I’ll address it swiftly.

Screenshots

  • The Switch To link on the Users screen
  • The Switch To link on a user’s profile

FAQ

Does this plugin work with PHP 8?

Yes, it’s actively tested and working up to PHP 8.3.

What does “Switch off” mean?

Switching off logs you out of your account but retains your user ID in an authentication cookie so you can switch straight back without having to log in again manually. It’s akin to switching to no user, and being able to switch back.

The Switch Off link can be found in your profile menu in the WordPress toolbar. Once you’ve switched off you’ll see a Switch back link in a few places:

  • In the footer of your site
  • On the Log In screen
  • In the “Meta” widget

Does this plugin work with WordPress Multisite?

Yes, and you’ll also be able to switch users from the Users screen in Network Admin.

Does this plugin work with WooCommerce?

Yes, and you’ll also be able to switch users from various WooCommerce administration screens while logged in as a Shop Manager or an administrative user.

Does this plugin work with BuddyPress?

Yes, and you’ll also be able to switch users from member profile screens and the member listing screen.

Does this plugin work with bbPress?

Yes, and you’ll also be able to switch users from member profile screens.

Does this plugin work if my site is using a two-factor authentication plugin?

Yes, mostly.

One exception I’m aware of is Duo Security. If you’re using this plugin, you should install the User Switching for Duo Security add-on plugin which will prevent the two-factor authentication prompt from appearing when you switch between users.

What capability does a user need in order to switch accounts?

A user needs the edit_users capability in order to switch user accounts. By default only Administrators have this capability, and with Multisite enabled only Super Admins have this capability.

Specifically, a user needs the ability to edit the target user in order to switch to them. This means if you have custom user capability mapping in place which uses the edit_users or edit_user capabilities to affect ability of users to edit others, then User Switching should respect that.

Can regular admins on Multisite installations switch accounts?

No. This can be enabled though by installing the User Switching for Regular Admins plugin.

Can the ability to switch accounts be granted to other users or roles?

Yes. The switch_users meta capability can be explicitly granted to a user or a role to allow them to switch users regardless of whether or not they have the edit_users capability. For practical purposes, the user or role will also need the list_users capability so they can access the Users menu in the WordPress admin area.

add_filter( 'user_has_cap', function( $allcaps, $caps, $args, $user ) {
    if ( 'switch_to_user' === $args[0] ) {
        if ( my_condition( $user ) ) {
            $allcaps['switch_users'] = true;
        }
    }
    return $allcaps;
}, 9, 4 );

Note that this needs to happen before User Switching’s own capability filtering, hence the priority of 9.

Can the ability to switch accounts be denied from users?

Yes. User capabilities in WordPress can be set to false to deny them from a user. Denying the switch_users capability prevents the user from switching users, even if they have the edit_users capability.

add_filter( 'user_has_cap', function( $allcaps, $caps, $args, $user ) {
    if ( 'switch_to_user' === $args[0] ) {
        if ( my_condition( $user ) ) {
            $allcaps['switch_users'] = false;
        }
    }
    return $allcaps;
}, 9, 4 );

Notes:

  • This needs to happen before User Switching’s own capability filtering, hence the priority of 9.
  • The ID of the target user can be found in $args[2].

Can I add a custom “Switch To” link to my own plugin or theme?

Yes. Use the user_switching::maybe_switch_url() method for this. It takes care of authentication and returns a nonce-protected URL for the current user to switch into the provided user account.

if ( method_exists( 'user_switching', 'maybe_switch_url' ) ) {
    $url = user_switching::maybe_switch_url( $target_user );
    if ( $url ) {
        printf(
            '<a href="%1$s">Switch to %2$s</a>',
            esc_url( $url ),
            esc_html( $target_user->display_name )
        );
    }
}

If you want to specify the URL that the user gets redirected to after switching, add a redirect_to parameter to the URL like so:

if ( method_exists( 'user_switching', 'maybe_switch_url' ) ) {
    $url = user_switching::maybe_switch_url( $target_user );
    if ( $url ) {
        // Redirect to the home page after switching:
        $redirect_to = home_url();
        printf(
            '<a href="%1$s">Switch to %2$s</a>',
            esc_url( add_query_arg(
                'redirect_to',
                rawurlencode( $redirect_to ),
                $url
            ) ),
            esc_html( $target_user->display_name )
        );
    }
}

The above code also works for displaying a link to switch back to the original user, but if you want an explicit link for this you can use the following code:

if ( method_exists( 'user_switching', 'get_old_user' ) ) {
    $old_user = user_switching::get_old_user();
    if ( $old_user ) {
        printf(
            '<a href="%1$s">Switch back to %2$s</a>',
            esc_url( user_switching::switch_back_url( $old_user ) ),
            esc_html( $old_user->display_name )
        );
    }
}

Can I determine whether the current user switched into their account?

Yes. Use the current_user_switched() function for this. If the current user switched into their account from another then it returns a WP_User object for their originating user, otherwise it returns false.

if ( function_exists( 'current_user_switched' ) ) {
    $switched_user = current_user_switched();
    if ( $switched_user ) {
        // User is logged in and has switched into their account.
        // $switched_user is the WP_User object for their originating user.
    }
}

Can I log each time a user switches to another account?

You can install an audit trail plugin such as Simple History, WP Activity Log, or Stream, all of which have built-in support for User Switching and all of which log an entry when a user switches into another account.

Does this plugin allow a user to frame another user for an action?

Potentially yes, but User Switching includes some safety protections for this and there are further precautions you can take as a site administrator:

  • You can install an audit trail plugin such as Simple History, WP Activity Log, or Stream, all of which have built-in support for User Switching and all of which log an entry when a user switches into another account.
  • User Switching stores the ID of the originating user in the new WordPress user session for the user they switch to. Although this session does not persist by default when they subsequently switch back, there will be a record of this ID if your database server has query logging enabled.
  • User Switching stores the login name of the originating user in an authentication cookie (see the Privacy Statement for more information). If your server access logs store cookie data, there will be a record of this login name (along with the IP address) for each access request.
  • User Switching triggers an action when a user switches account, switches off, or switches back (see below). You can use these actions to perform additional logging for safety purposes depending on your requirements.

One or more of the above should allow you to correlate an action with the originating user when a user switches account, should you need to.

Bear in mind that even without the User Switching plugin in use, any user who has the ability to edit another user can still frame another user for an action by, for example, changing their password and manually logging into that account. If you are concerned about users abusing others, you should take great care when granting users administrative rights.

Can I switch users directly from the admin toolbar?

Yes, there’s a third party add-on plugin for this: Admin Bar User Switching.

Are any plugin actions called when a user switches account?

Yes. When a user switches to another account, the switch_to_user hook is called:

/**
 * Fires when a user switches to another user account.
 *
 * @since 0.6.0
 * @since 1.4.0 The `$new_token` and `$old_token` parameters were added.
 *
 * @param int    $user_id     The ID of the user being switched to.
 * @param int    $old_user_id The ID of the user being switched from.
 * @param string $new_token   The token of the session of the user being switched to. Can be an empty string
 *                            or a token for a session that may or may not still be valid.
 * @param string $old_token   The token of the session of the user being switched from.
 */
do_action( 'switch_to_user', $user_id, $old_user_id, $new_token, $old_token );

When a user switches back to their originating account, the switch_back_user hook is called:

/**
 * Fires when a user switches back to their originating account.
 *
 * @since 0.6.0
 * @since 1.4.0 The `$new_token` and `$old_token` parameters were added.
 *
 * @param int       $user_id     The ID of the user being switched back to.
 * @param int|false $old_user_id The ID of the user being switched from, or false if the user is switching back
 *                               after having been switched off.
 * @param string    $new_token   The token of the session of the user being switched to. Can be an empty string
 *                               or a token for a session that may or may not still be valid.
 * @param string    $old_token   The token of the session of the user being switched from.
 */
do_action( 'switch_back_user', $user_id, $old_user_id, $new_token, $old_token );

When a user switches off, the switch_off_user hook is called:

/**
 * Fires when a user switches off.
 *
 * @since 0.6.0
 * @since 1.4.0 The `$old_token` parameter was added.
 *
 * @param int    $old_user_id The ID of the user switching off.
 * @param string $old_token   The token of the session of the user switching off.
 */
do_action( 'switch_off_user', $old_user_id, $old_token );

When a user switches to another account, switches off, or switches back, the user_switching_redirect_to filter is applied to the location that they get redirected to:

/**
 * Filters the redirect location after a user switches to another account or switches off.
 *
 * @since 1.7.0
 *
 * @param string       $redirect_to   The target redirect location, or an empty string if none is specified.
 * @param string|null  $redirect_type The redirect type, see the `user_switching::REDIRECT_*` constants.
 * @param WP_User|null $new_user      The user being switched to, or null if there is none.
 * @param WP_User|null $old_user      The user being switched from, or null if there is none.
 */
return apply_filters( 'user_switching_redirect_to', $redirect_to, $redirect_type, $new_user, $old_user );

In addition, User Switching respects the following filters from WordPress core when appropriate:

  • login_redirect when switching to another user.
  • logout_redirect when switching off.

How can I report a security bug?

You can report security bugs through the official User Switching Vulnerability Disclosure Program on Patchstack. The Patchstack team helps validate, triage, and handle any security vulnerabilities.

Do you accept donations?

I am accepting sponsorships via the GitHub Sponsors program and any support you can give will help me maintain this plugin and keep it free for everyone.

Reviews

ජූලි 17, 2024
Page after “switch to” cause “bad gateway” in Cloudflare.
ජූනි 2, 2024 2 replies
I don’t want to have to go to the users list every time, this falsifies the one click claim. I want a button on the top WP bar. I also can’t switch back unless I’m in the admin menu which I’m mostly not. I will see if I can add my own options up there…
මැයි 14, 2024
What a must plugin to have! I used to have different accounts with different user roles and logging in and out constantly while testing… Now this headache is over. Thank you!
මාර්තු 18, 2024
I regularly use this plugin to check what capabilities a specific user has. This plugin is especially useful with custom user roles and capabilities. And when providing telephone support, it is sometimes nice to switch to a customer’s user. So that you can see the same thing as the person you are calling with.
මාර්තු 2, 2024
Thank you so much for making such a great plugin.
Read all 228 reviews

Contributors & Developers

“User Switching” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.

Contributors

“User Switching” has been translated into 48 locales. Thank you to the translators for their contributions.

Translate “User Switching” into your language.

Interested in development?

Browse the code, check out the SVN repository, or subscribe to the development log by RSS.

Changelog

1.8.0 (22 July 2024)

  • Adds a ‘Switch back’ link to some access denied messages within the admin area.
  • Confirms support for WordPress 6.6.

1.7.3 (21 February 2024)

  • Confirm support for PHP 8.3
  • Fix compatibility with BuddyPress version 12
  • Add configuration for the Live Preview feature on wordpress.org

1.7.2 (16 November 2023)

  • Confirm support for WordPress 6.4
  • Reinstate the missing plugin readme file

1.7.1 (16 November 2023)

  • Fix the redirect type parameter passed to the user_switching_redirect_to filter
  • Increase the minimum supported version of PHP to 7.4

1.7.0 (30 July 2022)

  • Redirect to the current post, term, user, or comment being edited when switching off
  • Clean up some user-facing messages
  • Apply basic styling to the Switch Back link that appears in the footer
  • Use a better placement for the Switch To menu on bbPress profiles
  • Use a more appropriate HTTP response code if switching off fails
  • Exclude .editorconfig from dist ZIP

1.6.0 (24 June 2022)

  • Add a ‘Switch To’ link to the order screen in WooCommerce
  • Add a ‘Switch back’ link to the My Account screen and the login screen in WooCommerce

1.5.8 (2 October 2021)

  • Avoid a fatal if the interim-login query parameter is present on a page other than wp-login.php.

1.5.7 (12 May 2021)

  • Fix some issues that could lead to PHP errors given a malformed cookie.
  • Fix documentation.

1.5.6 (18 September 2020)

  • Add a class to the table row on the user edit screen.
  • Updated docs.

1.5.5 (22 June 2020)

  • Added the user_switching_in_footer filter to disable output in footer on front end.
  • Documentation additions and improvements.

1.5.4 (7 February 2020)

  • Fix a cookie issue caused by Jetpack 8.1.1 which prevented switching back to the original user.

1.5.3 (5 November 2019)

  • Remove usage of a method that’s been deprecated in WordPress 5.3

1.5.2 (16 August 2019)

  • Set the correct lang attribute on User Switching’s admin notice.
  • Move the WooCommerce session forgetting to an action callback so it can be unhooked if necessary.

1.5.1 (16 June 2019)

  • Add appropriate HTTP response codes to the error states.
  • Display User Switching’s messages in the original user’s locale.
  • Increase the priority of the hook that sets up the cookie constants. See #40.
  • Don’t attempt to output the ‘Switch To’ link on author archives when the queried object isn’t a user. See #39.

1.5.0 (23 March 2019)

  • Add support for forgetting WooCommerce sessions when switching between users. Requires WooCommerce 3.6+.

Earlier versions

For the changelog of earlier versions, please refer to the releases page on GitHub.