I am desperately looking for some way (any way) to set default "screen options" and metabox order through the functions.php file. does anyone have any help they can provide here?

  • 2014 Update: For those who just need to reorder meta boxes, see Nabil's answer below.
    – rinogo
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 21:10

3 Answers 3


Setting the order of meta boxes on post edit pages

You will need to remove the meta boxes, and add them again in the order you want.

To disable meta boxes: (customize to your needs, look at the metabox id in the html code to know which name you should use as first parameter of the functions)

function my_remove_meta_boxes() {

    remove_meta_box('postcustom', 'post', 'core');

    remove_meta_box('commentsdiv', 'post', 'core');


add_action( 'admin_menu', 'my_remove_meta_boxes' );

After removing them, you can use the add_meta_box function to add them at new positions: http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/add_meta_box. The order of the meta boxes depends on the order in which you call the add_meta_box function. E.g.: with the following code snippet, the comments meta box will be before the custom fields meta box.

function my_add_meta_boxes( $post_type, $post ) {
    if ( ('publish' == $post->post_status || 'private' == $post->post_status) && post_type_supports($post_type, 'comments') )
        add_meta_box('commentsdiv', __('Comments'), 'post_comment_meta_box', $post_type, 'normal', 'core');

    if ( post_type_supports($post_type, 'custom-fields') )
        add_meta_box('postcustom', __('Custom Fields'), 'post_custom_meta_box', $post_type, 'normal', 'core');


add_action( 'add_meta_boxes', 'my_add_meta_boxes' );

You may want to look at the file wp-admin/edit-form-advanced.php

Setting which columns title show up on the post list page

You need to use the filter manage_{$post_type}_posts_columns. E.g.: the following snippet will remove the comments column.

function my_remove_columns( $posts_columns ) {
    unset( $posts_columns['comments'] );

    return $posts_columns;

add_filter( 'manage_post_posts_columns', 'my_remove_columns' );

Setting the default results to be shown on the post list page

Use the filters 'edit_{$post_type}_per_page' and 'edit_posts_per_page'.

function my_edit_post_per_page( $per_page, $post_type ) {

    $edit_per_page = 'edit_' . $post_type . '_per_page';
    $per_page = (int) get_user_option( $edit_per_page );
    if ( empty( $per_page ) || $per_page < 1 )
        $per_page = 1;

    return $per_page;

add_filter( 'edit_posts_per_page', 'my_edit_post_per_page' );

To target a specific post type:

  • use add_filter( 'edit_{post type}_per_page', 'my_edit_post_per_page' ); e.g. add_filter( 'edit_post_per_page', 'my_edit_post_per_page' ); for posts, add_filter( 'edit_page_per_page', 'my_edit_post_per_page' ); for pages.

  • or use a condition within your function. e.g.:

    function my_edit_post_per_page( $per_page, $post_type ) {

    if( $post_type == 'post' ) {
        $edit_per_page = 'edit_' . $post_type . '_per_page';
        $per_page = (int) get_user_option( $edit_per_page );
        if ( empty( $per_page ) || $per_page < 1 )
            $per_page = 1;
    return $per_page;
  • Sorry, maybe i did not explain myself correctly. I was referring to the meta boxes on the post edit page in the admin area as well as setting the default number of posts to display on the admin post list page. Commented Sep 6, 2010 at 8:13
  • 1
    so technically this is not a question, it is really 2 questions?
    – Tom J Nowell
    Commented Sep 6, 2010 at 8:18
  • I modified my answer. Let me know if you need more details.
    – sorich87
    Commented Sep 6, 2010 at 8:41
  • @sorich87 thank you for your response however from what I remember there was no way to specific the exact order of each metabox or was there? Maybe I should be a bit more specific. I am basically looking for various code snippets which let me pre-set various options for all users without having to login to each account. Examples: setting the exact order of meta boxes on post edit pages, setting which columns title show up on the post list page, setting the default results to be shown on the post list page... things like that. Thanks in advance. Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 4:41
  • I modified my answer.
    – sorich87
    Commented Sep 7, 2010 at 7:17

In the following example, replace {CPT} with the post type name, like post, page, book, event, imaginary, foobar... So if you have a post type named event, you would need to add a filter for get_user_option_meta-box-order_event.

add_filter( 'get_user_option_meta-box-order_{CPT}', 'metabox_order' );
function metabox_order( $order ) {
    return array(
        'normal' => join( 
            array(       // vvv  Arrange here as you desire


  • Along with normal, you can also have side and advanced
  • The values are comma separated div ids, you can grab by view the page source code or you can guess
  • Any metabox that exists isn't included in your custom order will be added automatically at the end of your list.
  • 1
    I was somewhat confused by the {CPT} nomenclature; to clarify, if you have a post type named event, you would need to add a filter for get_user_option_meta-box-order_event.
    – rinogo
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 21:13

Is there a plugin that combines these codes pieces together so an admin can force the meta box positions for all users without coding.

Bad practice or not, when performing help desk with some less sophisticated users, it helps a lot to know what they are seeing and where it is on their screen. Forcing meta boxes to the same position for all users can be beneficial with certain users.

Ideally, users with role of admin could still reposition their meta boxes, but subscribers and contributors could benefit from seeing all meta poxes in the same positions.

Does such a plugin exist. I cannot seem to find one.

This plugin might even be an option as it just prevent users from moving meta boxes around, but it has not been updated in a decade. https://wordpress.org/plugins/unsortable-meta-box/

  • If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context. - From Review
    – vancoder
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 20:28

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