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As per my understanding, functions attached to plugin_loaded and admin_init hooks are called whenever any admin page is loaded. What's the difference between them?

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plugins_loaded fires once activated plugins have loaded. This fires on both admin and public screens.

admin_init fires as an admin screen or script is being initialized. This fires only on admin screens.


The typical order for firing of hooks on the admin screen is:

  1. muplugins_loaded - this is the first hook available to must-use plugins
  2. registered_taxonomy
  3. registered_post_type
  4. plugins_loaded - this is the first hook available to regular plugins
  5. auth_cookie_valid
  6. set_current_user
  7. load_textdomain
  8. sanitize_comment_cookies
  9. setup_theme
  10. unload_textdomain
  11. after_setup_theme - this is the first hook available to themes
  12. init
  13. widgets_init
  14. register_sidebar
  15. wp_register_sidebar_widget
  16. wp_default_styles
  17. wp_default_scripts
  18. debug_bar_enqueue_scripts
  19. wp_loaded - This hook is fired once WP, all plugins, and the theme are fully loaded and instantiated.
  20. auth_redirect
  21. admin_menu
  22. pre_get_users
  23. pre_user_query
  24. admin_init
  25. ... lots of other stuff

As you can see, a lot happens between plugins_loaded and admin_init.

Hooks on the public side are similar to those above, with the notable absence of admin_init.

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