How can I find the WordPress root directory in Bash without using WP-CLI?

  • 1
    Can you provide some context as to why WP CLI is specifically excluded in the question? Also, the WP root directory doesn't make sense as a term once you start doing subdirectory installs such as those composer would install
    – Tom J Nowell
    Jan 26, 2019 at 0:21
  • Sure Tom. My current install uses Docker. There's no MySQL server running in my MacOS and wp does nothing without MySQL running. I could ssh into the docker container and use wp there, but that would only give me paths inside the docker container; for BackstopJS to work in my instance I needed various paths on the host machine and not the Docker paths. Ditto for rsync'ing plugins between local and remote devs (though there are other ways to sync plugins, I know).
    – Slam
    Jan 27, 2019 at 4:45
  • This might also be useful in installs where the hosting provider does not provide or allow wp-cli.
    – Slam
    Jan 27, 2019 at 4:52

1 Answer 1


Simple bash script to find your WordPress root

Ever need to run a script outside of WordPress and need to know the WordPress root directory?

while [ ! -e wp-config.php ]; do
  if [ $pwd/ = / ]; then
    echo "No WordPress root found" >&2; exit 1
  cd ../
if [ -e wp-config.php ]; then

Use cases:

  • Custom shell scripts to sync local and remote folders and databases.
  • Docker workflows where wp-cli wp commands won't work.
  • Webpack/Grunt workflows where you might be issuing commands from the theme folder instead of the WordPress root.

How to use

  • put this code at the top of any script like myscript.sh.
  • set permissions with chmod u+x myscript.sh.
  • Use ${wproot} as a variable in any path.
    • Example echo "Uploads path is ${wproot}/wp-content/uploads".


This is a simple script and may not work under all conditions. It will not work if:

  • your wp-config.php file is not stored in your WordPress root
  • your wp-config.php file is rename

Admittedly the conditions under which you might need this are pretty rare. I needed it for a visual regression test script that needs to traverse several folders and issue various commands, all without wp-cli or WordPress functions.

Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

  • 1
    Note that the wp-config.php file can be one level up, in which case this will generate the wrong result
    – Tom J Nowell
    Jan 26, 2019 at 0:21
  • Yup, I added to that the Caveats section at the bottom. Is there any other file or folder that is guaranteed to be at wp root? I could search for that instead.
    – Slam
    Jan 27, 2019 at 4:46

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