I recently went through a major upgrade for Taking Your Camera on the Road, one of the oldest websites in the world, on WordPress since 2003, and the testing grounds for some of the earliest WordPress Plugins and Themes. Have I got a lot of lessons learned to share with you.
To begin with, I want to offer the following simple tip involving the powerful Bulk Editor feature in WordPress. Moving around all the posts and upgrading meant losing all the tags on the posts. Trust me, it’s a long story and I’ll save you from it for the moment. The result was that I was stuck with tons of posts with no tags.
You can quick edit any post from the Posts panel by hovering over the post and choosing the Quick Edit option.
This opens up a view of the meta data of your post, not the entire post for editing. Quick Edit allows you to change the post title, slug, date, author, password, categories, post tags, comment status, ping status, published status, and turn post sticky on or off.
While this is amazing for a single post or two, I was changing hundreds and hundreds of posts.
Using the WordPress Post Bulk Edit
The WordPress Bulk Edit feature is fantastic for changing the meta data for a lot of posts all at the same time. No need to go one by one through each to change it. While it is fast and easy to use, it also has its limits. Let’s start with how to use it.
To begin the process, narrow down the posts by category, grouping like content together.
On the drop down options bar of the Posts Panel, choose Categories and select the category you wish to work on from the drop down menu, then click Filter. This will sort your posts by that category, narrowing down the number of posts to fix.
On the left side of every post in the list is a checkbox. To select them all, click the checkbox next to Title on the top row of the table of posts. If you would like to narrow down the checked posts, either check them manually, or check them all and then uncheck the ones you do not wish to change using the bulk edit feature.
From the options bar, choose Edit from the Bulk Actions drop down menu. Click Apply.
This opens up the Bulk Edit option box for you to make changes.
Starting with the left side, you can click X to remove any post you do not wish to change. Next to that are the categories to choose from. Next are the rest, including post tags, author, comments, etc.
UPDATE: Before I get to the limitations, here is a quick video example of how to use the WordPress Bulk Edit feature for changing authors. It works the same as changing any of the options available on the Quick Edit feature, including adding tags, changing categories, etc.
This is also where you encounter your first set of limitations.
If you choose to add a category, click the checkbox for the category you want all the selected posts to be in. Be very certain about this as it will add the posts to that category, but not change any of the existing categories. There is currently no way to use the Bulk Edit feature to remove a post from a category, only to add categories.
If you choose to add tags, type the the words and phrases with a comma between them in the post tags box. Once you hit Update, the tags will be added to the post and the existing tags. Existing tags will not be changed and cannot be removed through Bulk Edit.
If you put the posts in a category or add a tag by mistake, you will have to manually go through and change each individual post using the Quick Edit or full Edit options.
Make your changes and click Update.
Another limitation to the Bulk Edit is the number of posts you can change at any one time. In one category on my WordPress site, I had 442 posts to change. WordPress limits the post view to sets of 20, leaving me with a lot of pages to apply the Bulk Edit to. There was once a unrecommended temporary hack to the core files to display all your posts at one time, but until WordPress offers a “show all posts” feature, we are left with changing these 20 by 20. To make this a little more fun, do what I did and put on an interesting movie or TV show on Hulu and plow through this tedious task.
Within two hour long television shows, I was able to retag all of the posts on that site, at least into general tags. I’ll work on adding more specific tags as I clean up the site. And trust me, there is a lot of cleaning to be done.
Thanks to Andrew Nacin who pointed out that the latest version of WordPress offers a feature to set the number of posts viewed on the Post panel through the Screen Options.
Well, at least I got some Hulu watching time in. This will definitely shorten my television time. Don’t know whether or not to be excited about this.
Do be careful when using this as it does take some time to generate all the posts when using a large number. Even on WordPress.com, I had to reload the page twice to generate a list of 50 posts. Most likely an issue on my end. If you don’t need it, don’t set it to a high number, or change it back when you are done.
Thanks, Andrew, and Otto for supplying a Plugin script to make this a more permanent fix. I love the WordPress Community.
Now, about setting the remove features in the Bulk Edit…