I am trying to detect when a user changes their name.

I have tried using the profile_update hook:

add_action( 'profile_update', 'my_profile_update', 10, 2 );
function my_profile_update( $user_id, $old_user_data ) {


I can access the $_POST data to get the new name fields, but $old_user_data does not contain the name fields, and because this fires after the data get saved, the old names fields are not in the database either.

I looked through user.php, and the best I see is filters for each name field, for example:

$meta['first_name'] = apply_filters( 'pre_user_first_name', $first_name );

I would prefer something that gives me access to all the data, though, instead of checking each name individually.

Is there a hook that fires after the form is submitted but before the data is saved?

I'm wanting to do something like this:

if ($new_first_name != $old_first_name) { //store old_first_name }

1 Answer 1


The hook you're looking for is insert_user_meta.

add_filter( 'insert_user_meta', function( $meta, $user, $update ) {
  if( true !== $update ) return $meta;
  $old_meta = get_user_meta( $user->ID );
  if( $old_meta[ 'first_name' ] !== $meta[ 'first_name' ] ) {
    //* Do something
  return $meta;
}, 10, 3 );
  • Thanks Nathan. That's very helpful! It's not exactly what I was wanting, as I was hoping to be able to process the whole form at once. But it does do what I was looking for 1 field at a time.
    – dwlorimer
    Feb 2, 2017 at 15:18
  • I tried this and it seems to fire whether on update OR create...is there a way to make sure this only fires on update and not create? if( true !== $update ) return; does not seem to work...
    – Stephen
    Apr 23, 2018 at 18:01
  • It should have been returning $meta. It does now, thanks. Apr 23, 2018 at 18:04
  • Thanks! I figured it out and actually just modified it to be if($update) {//do stuff} return $meta;
    – Stephen
    Apr 23, 2018 at 18:17

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