I am looking for a way to activate a plugin via a SQL query. I am aware you can login and hit "activate" on the particular plugin, but I would like to automate the activation as part of a release process.

I came across this question which makes me think that it may not be possible as the activate plugins are stored in wp_options in a specific format.

I am using a heavily-modified version of WordPress 3.3.1.

  • 1
    What specific format are you talking about? The data has been serialized, that's it.
    – tfrommen
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


If your goal is automated plugin activation you don't have to do it via SQL. You could, of course, but why not use functionality that comes with WordPress?

As I mentioned in my comment, the data has been serialized so you just have to

  • unserialize the data,
  • add your plugin,
  • re-serialize the data,
  • and update the option.

Here is a code snippet for that:

$active_plugins = unserialize(get_option('active_plugins'));
if ($active_plugins && is_array($active_plugins)) {
    $active_plugins[] = 'PLUGIN-DIR/PLUGIN-FILE.php'; // as in 'akismet/akismet.php'
    update_option('active_plugins', serialize($active_plugins));
} else {
    // something went wrong...
  • How does your solution help to figure out a way to activate a WordPress plugin via a SQL query.? Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 16:49
  • @EugeneManuilov It does not. However, despite the title reads activate ... via SQL, the question itself asks for an automated plugin activation - and that is exactly what my answer provides... That being said, you're right in that I could/should indicate this in my answer.
    – tfrommen
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 17:45
  • that's better now ;) Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 17:59

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