Development / 5 min read

What’s new in WordPress 6.4?

WordPress-related code

WordPress 6.4 “Shirley” was released on November 7, and the new features focus primarily on the Site and Block Editor, with quality-of-life improvements that show how far the platform has come since the days of the classic editor.

Let’s see what’s new in WordPress 6.4 and how you can use its features to improve the site development and content management.

Key takeaways

  • WordPress 6.4 shipped with a new default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four.
  • You can preview themes before activating them.
  • The Command Palette has new global and contextual commands.
  • You can add images to container blocks.
  • Your users can expand your post’s images with a lightbox popup.

9 major WordPress 6.4 features

One of the main selling points of 6.4 is the improvements to the Site Editor and the fact that it integrates Gutenberg 16.2 through 16.7 to the WordPress core. Let’s see some of the big changes this will bring to the WordPress development experience.

New default theme: Twenty Twenty-Four

Following the tradition, the latest WordPress release of the year comes with a new theme, Twenty Twenty-Four. This year’s default theme is designed to be versatile and suitable for various types of websites. The WordPress team envisioned three specific use cases: small businesses, photography and art portfolios, and blogs.

Twenty Twenty-Four theme in the Themes settings section
default homepage for the Twenty Twenty-Four theme

Twenty Twenty-Four is a fully functional albeit minimalist block theme that provides a collection of styles and templates to help users create various websites.

The style variations provide various color palettes, font families, and design options. Here’s what a few of the variations look like in the Site Editor.

a style variation of the Twenty Twenty-Four theme
a style variation of the Twenty Twenty-Four theme
a style variation of the Twenty Twenty-Four theme

It also offers a set of built-in templates for different page types, such as the posts index, pages with sidebars, the 404 page, etc.

Twenty Twenty-Four's templates

Finally, you also have over 50 patterns you can use to customize the site’s layout, simplifying the process of building and customizing web pages.

Twenty Twenty-Four's Patterns

Overall, Twenty Twenty-Four is a lightweight and flexible theme ideal for users who want to quickly create versatile websites without spending too much time editing code.

Theme preview

Now you can preview how the theme will look without activating it first. Just hover over the theme and click on the Live Preview button.

screenshot of the Live Preview button in the Themes settings

It’ll take you to the Site Editor, where you can test each theme’s variations without switching your current one. When previewing an inactive theme, you can activate it by clicking the Activate button in the bottom left-hand corner.

screenshot of the Live Preview feature

Custom Block Pattern categories

WordPress 6.4 also allows you to assign categories to any Block Patterns you create. This makes them easier to find in the Site Editor.

creating and categorizing a Block Pattern

You can also export your custom Block Patterns to edit them in JSON format.

export Block Pattern to JSON
  "__file": "wp_block",
  "title": "Test Pattern",
  "content": "<!-- wp:paragraph -->\n<p>Here starts the test pattern.</p><p>Here ends the test pattern.</p>\n<!-- /wp:paragraph -->",
  "syncStatus": ""

In addition to exporting them, you can import Block Pattern JSON files by going to Appearance > Site Editor > Manage all of my patterns, making maintaining consistency across multiple sites easier.

import Block Pattern from JSON

While most developers are unlikely to take advantage of the import/export feature, it’s a great tool for agencies that simultaneously work with multiple local sites.

List View improvements

The List View provides an outline of the blocks that make up your page or post, and 6.4 provides some quality-of-life improvements when navigating it.

List View button in the block editor

First, it allows you to rename Group, Stack, and Row blocks to make identifying what’s inside them easier.

Rename button in the List View

Second, List View now provides small thumbnails for each Image and Gallery block, helping break down the outline and identify where you want to go.

New Image block thumbnails in the List View

Improved Command Palette

Introduced in 6.3, the Site Editor’s Command Palette lets you quickly perform actions by pressing CTRL + K or CMD + K and searching for commands. WordPress 6.4 adds the following commands: “Group,” “Ungroup,” “Duplicate,” “Remove,” “Add before,” “Add after,” and “Transform.”

Add Before command in the Command Palette

6.4 also includes various contextual actions like “Open List View” (when using the Site Editor), “Exit code editor,” “Hide breadcrumbs,” “Show breadcrumbs,” “Enable pre-publish checklist,” “Disable pre-publish checklist,” and “Preview in a new tab.”

"Preview in a new tab" contextual Command Palette command

Expand images upon clicking

Now you can let users expand images when clicking on them by toggling the Expand on click feature while managing an Image block.

The Image block's "Expand on click" feature

In previews and published posts, you’ll see a small icon on the block’s top-right corner.

The Image block's "Expand on click" feature

Background images for container blocks

Once you’ve created a Group, Row, or Stack block, you can click on it, go to the Styles tab, and click on Background image to add an image for the entire container block. You can upload a new image or use one from your existing Media Library.

Container block background images

You can’t control the background image’s opacity, so edit it accordingly before uploading.

More consistent toolbar for the Navigation, List, and Quote blocks

In previous versions, dealing with sub-elements in Lists, Navigation, and Quote blocks, the toolbar was positioned above the sub-element, potentially interfering with the content you needed to read.

Now, the toolbar is above the parent element, preventing interference.

List block's toolbar position

“Open in new tab” is now part of the link preview context menu

As of 6.3.2, you need to go through several clicks to make a link open in a new tab, which can be quite a hassle for content creators. In 6.4, the Open in new tab button is part of the context menu when you click on a link, saving you some time, especially if you’re working with multiple links.

"Open in new tab" button in link preview

Additional features and improvements

WordPress 6.4 brings many improvements in addition to the ones we’ve discussed here, including:

Try out WordPress 6.4

WordPress 6.4 includes significant changes that make the site editing and content management process easier and more robust.

Have you tried WordPress 6.4? If you plan to update, remember to back up your site beforehand, preferably by using a local server or a staging site.

Hopefully, this post was helpful, and you now know what to expect from WordPress’s newest version. If you found this post useful, read our blog for more WordPress insights and guides!