In WP 3.1, it appears that setting 'exclude_from_search' = TRUE for a custom post type excludes the post type not just from searches on the front-end, but also from any post query using 'post_type' = 'all'.

I can imagine plenty of scenarios where a plug-in developer would want to access ALL post types, even those excluded from front-end searches. Is this a bug, or is it just poorly documented?

Backstory: I have a custom post type using a custom "Post Expiration Date" field. In an attempt to automatically un-publish expired custom posts, I created a Content Expiration plugin which uses wp_schedule_event() to periodically unpublish posts where "Post Expiration Date" < Today. It worked great as long as I specified my custom post type, but it stopped working when I tried to make it more generic by setting 'post_type' = 'all' in the WP_Query arguments. Turns out the problem was the 'exclude_from_search' argument for the custom post type. Here's the pertinent code in the WP_Query class:

$exclude_post_types = '';
$in_search_post_types = get_post_types( array('exclude_from_search' => false) );
if ( ! empty( $in_search_post_types ) )
  $exclude_post_types .= $wpdb->prepare(" AND $wpdb->posts.post_type IN ('" . join("', '", $in_search_post_types ) . "')");

if ( 'any' == $post_type ) {
  $where .= $exclude_post_types;
  • are you able to share the code to un-publish custom posts? I've been hunting all over stack trying to find a solution to this question, and this thread is the closet I have found
    – shawn
    May 28, 2011 at 22:13
  • @shawn, I'd be happy to share the code. Do you have an existing question on StackExchange? I'd prefer to post it in an answer instead derailing in a comment.
    – danblaker
    May 31, 2011 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


This is hard to answer - you're asking us to look in the minds of the WP developers who wrote this code :-)

It is possible that they thought the only place where you need to query for posts of all types is when you are doing a search, and thus they named it that way.

It could be documented more clearly in the Codex. The Codex is a wiki, so feel free to add it yourself!

  • I'm still new to this WP development stuff, and when I didn't see anything about this in the Codex or core.trac.wordpress.org I figured it was intended behavior. I think I'll update the Codex and log a bug. Post types "excluded from search" can be queried via WP_Query if you specify the post type, so I think this is just an oversight.
    – danblaker
    May 27, 2011 at 17:11
  • Here's the ticket in WP Core trac: core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/17592. It's already patched, so I'm off to do some testing.
    – danblaker
    May 31, 2011 at 20:47

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