The difference between the Test Mode and Live Mode of the Paystack Dashboard

One of the single most important things to understand about the Paystack Dashboard is its two modes - the Test Mode, and the Live Mode. This article will explain what these modes are, and why they're important.

About the two Paystack Dashboard Modes

The Paystack Dashboard comes in two modes:

  • Test Mode - when the Dashboard is in this mode, all the features that the merchants engages with are incapable of sending or moving around real money.
  • Live Mode - in this mode, real money can be accepted and moved around.

Test Mode exists to create a safe "sandbox" environment where you can experiment with various features without fear of accidentally spending real money. It's a great place to try out new tools and see how customer-facing features look before you publicize them.

Live Mode is where everything real happens. If a payment comes in on the Live Mode dashboard, it means money left someone's bank account into yours.

It's helpful to think of Test Mode and Live Mode as two side of the same Paystack Dashboard - one side doesn't use real money, while the other side does.

All businesses start out in only Test Mode

When you create a brand new business in Paystack, that business' Dashboard starts out in Test Mode. While in Test Mode, you're able to explore the Dashboard, and create, edit, and delete things without fear of messing anything up. 

When you want to accept real payments, you'll need to switch into Live Mode. Only Activated Business can enter the Live Mode.

How to tell which mode your Dashboard is in

The quickest way to see if your Dashboard is in Test Mode is to look at the status at the Mode Toggle at the top right of the screen.

If you see TEST MODE in red text, you're in Test Mode.

If you see LIVE MODE in green text, you're in Live Mode.

All you have to do go into one more or the other is to switch the toggle.

How to go from Test Mode to Live Mode

In order to be able to switch from Test Mode to Live Mode (and accept real payments), you'll need to activate your business on Paystack. You do this by submitting an Activation Request.  Learn more about how to activate your business on Paystack.

Important to note:

With the exception of the Business Settings, whatever you do while in one mode doe NOT affect what happens in the other mode!

So if you create Payment Pages in Test Mode, for example, those Payment Pages will not show up in the Live Mode Dashboard by default.

Similarly, if you created Invoices on the Live Mode Dashboard, you wouldn't see those Invoices if you switched the toggle to the Test Mode Dashboard.

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