I'm trying to fire some code only when a document type is created using save_post, but $update is always true, even when first publishing it.

I assume this is because there's an autodraft created first. Is there any way around this?

3 Answers 3


So appreciate this is a bit late but I was having the exact same issue, the $update parameter is almost completely useless if you want to check whether it is a new post or not.

The way I got around this was to compare the $post->post_date with $post->post_modified. Full code snippet below.

add_action( 'save_post', 'save_post_callback', 10, 3 );

function save_post_callback($post_id, $post, $update) {
    $is_new = $post->post_date === $post->post_modified;
    if ( $is_new ) {
        // first publish
    } else {
        // an update

Hope that helps anybody else finding this.

  • 1
    I will just jump in the comments, as i've done quite a bit of research on this too. Your method in some cases might not work. eg: If the processing begins at the end of a given second, the post_date_gmt and the post_modified_gmt will be different. you can read more on this here wordpress.stackexchange.com/a/177670/190376 Jan 7, 2021 at 11:20

One approach is to use get_post_status()

According to the codex http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/get_post_status

'publish' - A published post or page
'pending' - post is pending review
'draft' - a post in draft status
'auto-draft' - a newly created post, with no content
'future' - a post to publish in the future
'private' - not visible to users who are not logged in
'inherit' - a revision. see get_children.
'trash' - post is in trashbin. added with Version 2.9.

Possibly in your code the status is auto-draft or draft. If the status is true for both, it's probably the first save. If not, it's an update.


A more reliable way of checking is to get $_POST['original_publish'], as that will return 'Publish' on first publishing it, and 'Update' on updating it.

  • 2
    1. Never a good thing to rely on an obscure undocumented detail. 2. when publishing via XML-RPC, JSON API or whatever it is unlikely to work May 6, 2016 at 8:13
  • @MarkKaplun - I don't want it to work on anything other than hitting the publish button, so that's okay by me. But a good point. May 6, 2016 at 8:38

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