I've been having a difficult time adding custom post type capabilities to roles (Adding capabilities to default roles) and I suspect that my muddling around may have caused some problems. I also have installed and de-installed various plugins some of which added capabilities. As a result My WP Role object is a bit of a mess. Does anyone know of a way to reset capabilities or do I need a fresh install?

3 Answers 3


I use User Role Editor. You can delete added roles, and reset roles from the plugin page.

To reset the administator role, you can, as of WP 3.4+, add

define('URE_SHOW_ADMIN_ROLE', 1);

to your wp-config.php file. After having done so, you need to go to Users > User Role Editor and click "Reset".

  • Can I use it and then de-install it?
    – mantis
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 21:20
  • Yes, since you are just resetting the roles back to the original state, there should be no problem with deleting the plugin.
    – livearoha
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 21:31
  • Ok, I'll give it a go then.
    – mantis
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 21:34
  • As with any plugin, I would recommend copying your database beforehand, just in case it doesn't do what you want you always go back.
    – livearoha
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 21:39
  • 1
    @bungeshea Point 3 of "When should I edit posts?" (on the very page you linked to) reads "To include additional information only found in comments, so all of the information relevant to the post is contained in one place" --> That's what the user mantis did. How's that not okay? Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 8:26

If you don't want to install a plugin to just to do this one task, you can call the WordPress function directly to rebuild the roles and their capabilities.

if ( !function_exists( 'populate_roles' ) ) {
  require_once( ABSPATH . 'wp-admin/includes/schema.php' );

  • 1
    Thanks! it worked like a charm and was difficult to find. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 18:31
  • This is the most simpler and robust solution that restores all the standard roles and caps in the WordPress way. This should be a selected answer. Thanks a lot. Commented May 24, 2020 at 4:13

I find an easier way to reset roles and their associated capabilities is to use wp-cli.

wp-cli has a built-in method for resetting roles. You can specify any that you want to reset. For example:

wp role reset author contributor editor subscriber

There is also an --all flag, which you can use like this:

wp role reset --all

Warning that this will include resetting the administrator capabilities, which may remove access to some plugins, so use with caution.

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