Wondering if its possible to deactivate a plugin in the deactivation code of another plugin?

IE. i have a widget that i'm adding via its own plugin that won't function if the 'master' plugin isn't activated...

2 Answers 2


Yes, register a deactivation hook in your first plugin, and inside this hook deactivate the 2nd plugin using the deactivate_plugins() function


Note: After writing this, I submitted a trac ticket, only to be told that this one already existed.

@OneTrickPony's answer didn't work forme, and after inspecting the source (specifically deactivate_plugins()) I found why:

Let's suppose B depends on A, and A is deactivated by the user. WordPress calls deactivate_plugins(A).

This function does the following:

  1. Gets all the current active plugins.]
  2. Performs some checks (e.g. is plugin A actually active?)
  3. Removes A from this array
  4. Fires the hook deactivate_A (which we hook onto using register_deactivation_hook)
  5. Updates the array to the database.

Now at step 4, we call deactivate_plugins(B) to deactivate. The same process happens again, and is completed- that's fine. But once that's completed we proceed to step 5 (in the original deactivate_plugins() call for A). The array is updated to the database - but this array was the very original one retrieved in step 1 and only has A removed. In particular we retrieved it at the beginning when B was still active, and so it contains B.

Note: your deactivation callbacks are fired, even through WordPress still thinks its active next time the page loads.

The solution

The solution is to use a later hook (after the option has been updated). For this we can take advantage of the update_option_{$option} hook:

//This goes inside Plugin A.
//When A is deactivated. Deactivate B.
  function my_plugin_A_deactivate(){
     $dependent = 'B/B.php';
     if( is_plugin_active($dependent) ){
          add_action('update_option_active_plugins', 'my_deactivate_dependent_B');

   function my_deactivate_dependent_B(){
       $dependent = 'B/B.php';
  • How i can add a admin notice that dependent plugin is deactivated due to the required plugin deactivated ? Feb 28, 2016 at 3:42
  • You could wait until admin_notices to deactivate the dependant plug-in and so print a message before hand. Personally though, I would just leave the dependent plug-in active, but simply do not load any functionality, except for an admin message inviting the user to reactivate the required plug-in. Feb 29, 2016 at 15:28
  • 1
    This is all great when you write 2 plugins in question. But what happens when you depend on a third party plugin? I can control not activating my plugin if the other isn't active, but I cannot deactivate my plugin when the other one is deactivated.
    – dingo_d
    Dec 8, 2018 at 17:14
  • @dingo_d I suppose you could hook into update_option_active_plugins in plug-in B (your plug-in) and check the array for your dependencies (e.g. plugin A). If it's not there, and your plugin is, deactivate it. But I would advise against this. If I activate plugin B without A, it'd just immediately be deactivated. A better UX would be to have your plug-in to do nothing expect display a message prompting the user to install/activate A. You can even provide a activate link if its installed. Dec 8, 2018 at 22:27
  • Yeah, in my case I depend on WooCommerce, and if you accidentally deactivate WooCommerce before deactivating my plugin, you'll get a white screen of death. That's what I want to prevent. I need to see what hooks trigger when WooCommerce is deactivated and see if I can find a hook to preform my plugin deactivation (even if it is by manually querying the wp_options table and removing it from the list)
    – dingo_d
    Dec 9, 2018 at 10:06

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