Unraveling WordPress Debug Mode: A Comprehensive Guide for Troubleshooting Errors

WordPress, designed with user-friendliness in mind, is not just a platform for beginners, but it also caters to experienced developers. It provides tools that can be used to troubleshoot issues that may arise during the development or management of a WordPress site. One such tool is the WordPress Debug Mode, a powerful feature that can help identify and resolve issues swiftly.

This comprehensive guide will delve into how you can leverage the WordPress Debug Mode to troubleshoot issues on your site.

What is WordPress Debug Mode?

In the world of software development, a “bug” is a term used to denote a problem in the code. Bugs can lead to a variety of issues, ranging from poor performance, display errors, to complete shutdowns of applications or websites.

The WordPress Debug Mode, also known as WP_DEBUG, is a built-in feature that triggers the “debug” mode throughout WordPress. This mode can be instrumental in identifying these bugs. When the debug mode is enabled, WordPress displays all PHP errors, notices, and warnings, making it easier to pinpoint and resolve issues.

Why Enable WordPress Debug Mode?

While WordPress is known for its user-friendly interface and robust functionality, like any other software, it’s not immune to errors. These errors can stem from various sources – a problematic plugin, a conflict within the theme, or even custom code that’s not playing nice with the rest of your site.

Debug Mode serves as a valuable ally in such scenarios. It helps identify the root cause of the issue by displaying detailed error messages, helping you or your developer address the problem more effectively.

How to Enable WordPress Debug Mode

Before diving into the process of enabling Debug Mode, it’s crucial to remember that these settings, as a rule, should be used in a development environment and not on a live site.

There are two primary methods to enable WordPress Debug Mode:

  1. Using a WordPress Plugin: If you’re a beginner or someone who prefers not to tinker with code, using a WordPress plugin like WP Debugging can be an easier way to enable Debug Mode.
  2. Manually Enabling Debug Mode: This method involves editing the wp-config.php file of your WordPress installation and is generally recommended for developers or those comfortable with editing code.

Let’s explore these methods in more detail.

Enabling WordPress Debug Mode Using a Plugin

Plugins like WP Debugging make enabling Debug Mode a breeze. Once you install and activate the plugin, it enables Debug Mode by default.

To view the error logs for your website, you can navigate to the Tools » WP Debugging from your WordPress dashboard.

Remember to disable the plugin once you are finished debugging your site to prevent potential security issues.

Manually Enabling WordPress Debug Mode

To enable WordPress Debug Mode manually, you’ll have to edit the wp-config.php file of your WordPress installation.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Connect to your hosting account using an FTP client.
  2. Navigate to the folder where WordPress is installed and find the wp-config.php file.
  3. Open the wp-config.php file in a text editor and find the line that says, /* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */.
  4. Insert the following code just above that line: define('WP_DEBUG', true);. Save your changes.
  5. To disable Debug Mode once you’re done, change the true value to false.

Additional Debugging Options

Apart from the basic Debug Mode, WordPress also provides additional debugging options that can be used to control the debugging information that WordPress provides:

  • WPDEBUGLOG: This option, when enabled, saves all error information to the debug.log file in the wp-content directory.
  • WPDEBUGDISPLAY: This option controls whether debug messages are shown within the HTML of pages.
  • SCRIPT_DEBUG: This option forces WordPress to use the “dev” versions of core CSS and JavaScript files instead of the minified versions that are normally loaded.

Logging Database Queries

For issues related to your site’s database, WordPress provides an option to enable database query logging. When this option is enabled, each query, how long the query took to execute, and the function that called it are saved. This can be a powerful tool for debugging database-related issues.

Using Debugging Plugins

Apart from the built-in Debug Mode, there are several plugins available that can simplify the debugging process. Plugins like Query Monitor and Debug Bar provide an easy way to activate the debugging mode and offer additional features for a more comprehensive debugging process.

The Importance of Debugging in WordPress

While WordPress sites are designed for streamlined operation and simple modification using third-party plugins and tools, issues can arise. Learning how to debug WordPress websites can help identify these issues before your site or service goes live, reducing the time and effort required to find and fix potential problems.


In essence, the WordPress Debug Mode is a powerful tool that can significantly simplify the process of identifying and resolving issues on your site. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, understanding how to enable and use this tool effectively can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Remember: Always ensure to turn off the Debug Mode once you’re done with the troubleshooting process, as leaving it on could lead to potential security issues. Happy debugging!