Where Oh Where Can My Missing Visual Editor Be?

Vanished WP Visual Editor

Vanished WP Visual Editor

 It actually happened some time before Christmas.

I was going to make an entry wishing everyone a great time and a happy new year. But as the WordPress Post Editor opened, an unfamiliar sight confronted me, which is revealed in the picture above. The Visual tab is selected, but there are no icons displayed – and no text appeared when I tried to type something.Even more strange was that HTML coding did appear as expected when I selected the Text tab. “What is going on?” – is the question I muttered to myself, with perhaps a couple of expletives thrown in for good measure!

Wondering if it only occurred with new entries, I opened an old post, but found that to also be similarly affected.

You may be wondering why I only appear to be addressing the problem now, especially as the end of February is fast approaching.

Just what the heck have I been doing all this time!

Well, these past couple of months have been quite hectic, to say the least. My daughter Hayley was expecting her baby to be born in middle to late January. There were a few false alarms, with midnight dashes to the hospital. Mix that in with the usual excitement and chaos around that time of year and it’s easy to see that I couldn’t be very focused on much else.

On the 17th January, a baby girl was born weighing in at 5lb 10oz. My very first grandchild, Amelie Thea. February 3rd was also Hayley’s 30th birthday – as if there wasn’t enough going on already! I also attended the iPro Partners Training Event in Nottingham on the weekend of the 7th & 8th, so now is really the only time my mind has finally settled down enough for me to re-focus on addressing the issue of the missing visual editor and of course, my on-line business and finally start to act on the business plan we all drew up for our respective businesses on that weekend.

I have searched the web for possible causes to the missing visual editor and it seems that a lot of people have experienced this problem. However, when I clicked on several of the results I found a lot of different fixes, with replies from others reporting whether a particular fix worked for them – or not. There were 176,000 results for my Google query “wordpress visual editor blank”, which appear to be connected with WP Updates over the past few years. As my site is now running WP 4.1.1, which is the latest version, I only tried the suggestions from the most up-to-date results.

The last post from this site:   http://stackoverflow.com/questions/25506490/wordpress-update-cause-visual-editor-blank  is from someone upgrading to version 4.1 in January 2015, who suggests that the problem is with the WP upgrade process itself and replacing the entire wp-includes/js/tinymce folder fixed it for them. Here is their post http://www.maxmito.it/2015/01/12/visual-editor-not-working-after-wordpress-update/

Some also found that the font color had changed to white. (white text on a white background is definitely not recommended!)

Here is a list of the most common fixes, taken from some of the results I read:
  • Clear browser cache
  • Try a different browser
  • Deactivate all plugins
  • If you have the plugin “Styles with Shortcodes for WordPress” deactivate & reactivate it
  • Change to default theme & then back to the operational one
  • Install “Use Google Libraries” plugin
  • Add this to the wp-config.php file: define( ‘CONCATENATE_SCRIPTS’, false );
  • Download a zipped version of WordPress from WordPress.org and via ftp replace /wp-includes/js/tinymce folder
  • Download a zipped version of WordPress from WordPress.org and via ftp replace /wp-includes folder
  • Look in General Settings to see if the site & WP url’s have a colon “:” at the end of them. If so, remove them
  • “Disable Visual Editing” in your Profile & then “Enable Visual Editing”
  • In the CSS file “wp-includes/css/editor.min.css”  the rule is .js .tmce-active .wp-editor-area{color:#ffffff}
    • which is white. But when I checked this on my site and compared it with a freshly downloaded zipped version of 4.1.1, I found this in both of them: .js .tmce-active .wp-editor-area {color:#fff}


Some people also suggested that the issue is caused by combining all of the individual scripts into one large file. There are plugins that can do this and it is also recommended as a way to optimize or speed-up WordPress. This is also something I have done with my site.

As for browsers, I use both Chrome and the 64 bit version of Firefox known as Waterfox and found that the problem was consistent on both browsers. Most of the fixes listed above did not work for me and I do not have the “Styles with Shortcodes for WordPress” plugin. I’ve included it in case someone has and it works for them.

The fix regarding the css editor file is a strange one and it’s pretty weird that even fresh versions of the file show “{color:#fff}”  (Yes, it has three “f’s”) Although this fix seems to have worked for some people, I thinks it’s something of a red-herring.

I also have not tried uncombining all the script files, or counting the number or placement of “;” in the large combined (concatenated) file to see if any are missing, causing the script processing to prematurely abort or cause execution errors by miss-reading.

Other posts I read indicated that the problem is actually at the server end and suggest interrogating the ISP to find out if they have changed anything.

I haven’t found a definitive answer to the problem, as there may be many causes, or maybe just one that no-one has yet discovered and is somehow affected by all the other “fixes”. What I did was to install a completely different browser, one that I have never used before, to ensure there are no remnants of old installations. I am of the opinion that the fault lies somewhere on the user’s computer and each “fix” is related to what a particular user has installed; other external web programs they access; version of their particular operating system… or maybe if they use a Windows PC or an Apple (Mac, iMac, iPad …)

I would be interested to know if fixes that work have anything to do with the operating system, whether it’s Windows, OSX, IOS.

Anyway, back to the different browser I installed. It’s Opera. When I logged back into my site, the visual editor had indeed returned. The next thing I am going to try is to completely remove both Chrome and Firefox (Waterfox) by using an uninstall tool I have as part of an application called “Advanced SystemCare 8.1 Pro”. It scans for leftover files and folders and also through the Windows registry. I’ve used it many times to completely remove stubborn programs I’ve installed in the past.

Although I said that I haven’t posted anything since before Christmas, it’s not exactly true, as you will notice that I actually did post this  Really Proud Of My Hero Nephew  on February 3rd. The problem with the visual editor was there, but the Text editor still worked OK. So rather than manually mess about with HTML, I fired up KomPozer which is a free WYSIWYG web page editing program. It has a Normal tab for visual editing and a Source tab for HTML. I created the post as normal and then simply copied and pasted the HTML into the WP Text editor. But, I still had to mess around a bit to get the post looking alright in WordPress and because I suspected a little fine-tuning may be necessary, it’s also the reason why that post is fairly short.
I’ll report back as to whether a completely clean re-install of Chrome & Waterfox re-enable the visual editor.


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Mike Flanagan
In 2014, I retired from Senior Technical Executive post with a top level, global IT systems and solutions corporation. Freelanced in the late 1990's in my own IT consultancy business & rejoined the corporate world 2005. Now decided to go into business again, this time online with an Internet Marketing Company I call CS Marketing (the CS stands for Corporate Survivor). I help others interested in online business and use the technical and business skills gained throughout my professional career.