Work with plugins to extend TinyMCE

For most developers, the real power of TinyMCE’s functionality is found in its plugins. Plugins either extend default editor functionality or add new functionality. For example, the List Styles plugin adds extra options to the toolbar’s existing list controls, while the Code plugin adds entirely new functionality.

Because most people install TinyMCE via Tiny Cloud or by downloading a package, they mistakenly think plugins are part of the TinyMCE "core". While all of the plugins (excluding the professional features) are included in those packages, each plugin is in a separate .js file. In fact, if you use the custom package download option (TinyMCE 4 only), you’re able to select only the plugins you want to be included, or you can exclude all of the plugins built by the TinyMCE team.

In this section, we’ll show you how easy it is to activate a plugin by highlighting two of the more popular plugins.

You must include the plugin in your download options to activate it.

Let’s start with a simple code snippet you can paste into an empty html file (call it whatever you like, tinymce.html works). Save the file locally, open it with your web browser and you’ll have a basic, local TinyMCE instance up and running.

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <script src="" referrerpolicy="origin"></script>
  <script type="text/javascript">
    selector: 'textarea'

  <form method="post">
    <textarea>Hello, World!</textarea>

Let’s play with plugins

The code we want to work with is in the second <script> element. Specifically the key and its value, which we pass as JSON to the tinymce object .init method. In the example above selector is the key and 'textarea' is its value.

Code plugin

The Code plugin is one of the more popular plugins because it can expose the editable area’s raw html to the user. It also provides an excellent example because it adds a menu item and toolbar button as well as having advanced customization options.

The first thing we need to do is include the actual plugins key and assign it a value. Since we’re starting with the code plugin that value is going to be `'code'`for this example.

  selector: 'textarea',  // note the comma at the end of the line!
  plugins: 'code'

Add plugins: 'code' to your tinymce.html file, save the file, refresh your browser and you’ll see some magic. A "Tools" menu automatically appears in the menubar, and it has a "Source code" item in the drop-down. Click it and voila, you can now edit the HTML hidden by the WYSIWYG interface.

Let’s also add a toolbar control so that our users can more easily activate this functionality.

  selector: 'textarea',  // note the comma at the end of the line!
  plugins: 'code',  // note the comma at the end of the line!
  toolbar: 'code'

Impressive! We now have a button on the toolbar users can click to get into source code mode, but we lost our default toolbar controls. We explained why this happens back in the Basic setup, so if this behavior surprises you, please re-read that section.

Let’s quickly take our minimal design one step further by deleting the menubar entirely.

  selector: 'textarea',  // note the comma at the end of the line!
  plugins: 'code',  // note the comma at the end of the line!
  toolbar: 'code',  // last reminder, note the comma!
  menubar: false

Time for one more example

Even if you found the above example quite easy, hang with us we’ll show you how to extend TinyMCE’s default ordered and unordered lists. If on the other hand that was all a bit new, read this example to help your understanding.

List Styles

The List Styles plugin extends the default unordered and ordered list toolbar controls provided in the Lists plugin by adding CSS list-style-type styled number formats and bullet types to the controls.

As before, let’s start by adding the plugins key and assign the value 'advlist lists'. This will enable the List Styles and Lists plugins.

  selector: 'textarea',  // change this value according to your HTML
  plugins: 'advlist lists'

Take a look at your TinyMCE toolbar, and you’ll see the list controls now have down arrows attached (to the right of the icon). Click them, and you’ve now got extra list options.

There are more customization options if we don’t want all of those list options available to the user.

More options for customization

The advlist plugin has two options which provide more granular control of list styles. These are advlist_bullet_styles and advlist_number_styles.

Many plugin options have more than one possible value. The advlist_bullet_styles option has possible values of circle, disc, and square. While the advlist_number_styles has possible values of lower-alpha, lower-greek, lower-roman, upper-alpha, and upper-roman.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember all these values. The plugins section goes into great detail explaining all the plugins options, toolbars, and menu controls.

Let’s add the List Styles options and give them some of the available options.

  selector: 'textarea',  // change this value according to your HTML
  plugins: 'advlist lists',
  menubar: false,
  toolbar: 'bullist numlist',
  advlist_bullet_styles: 'square',
  advlist_number_styles: 'lower-alpha,lower-roman,upper-alpha,upper-roman'

In the above example, we learned how to remove the menubar, add specific list controls to the toolbar while removing others, activate a plugin, and customize the plugin’s behavior by controlling which options we wanted to be activated. In 5 lines of code (excluding the selector key, which has to be included for TinyMCE to work).