A Wordpress URL that triggers a search includes a s parameter and a value. So, something like https://example.com/?s=hello.

I want Wordpress to not render the search template, but to use whatever template should be shown if the s parameter would not be present.

I can use the template_include hook to force another template to be used, but this still loads the wrong posts.

I can also unset the querystring variable s using the parse_query hook. This then loads search results as if the search was for an empty string. If I also set is_search to false, I get a fatal error as a consequence of some include files (of my theme) being loaded multiple times.

What does work is capturing the s in template_redirect, and redirecting to the same URL but with the s parameter replaced by another parameter (say mys), and then handling that parameter instead on the resulting page. I find this a hack.

How do I make this work without replacing the query string variable?

1 Answer 1


How to get Wordpress to ignore the search parameter in the frontend?

What you can try, is hooking in earlier, to remove the public search query variable, like (untested):

add_filter( 'request', function( $qv ) {
    if ( ! is_admin() && isset ( $qv['s'] ) ) {
        unset( $qv['s'] );
    return $qv;
} );

We are here hooking into WP::parse_request() where query variables are first registered into WordPress from GET/POST request parameters.

I can also unset the query string variable s using the parse_query hook. This then loads search results as if the search was for an empty string.

Note that query variables are restored soon after the pre_get_posts hook runs, in case they were unset:

// Fill again in case 'pre_get_posts' unset some vars.
$q = $this->fill_query_vars( $q );


  • Thanks. I'm not quite clear on the implications of the query variables being restored. However, unsetting the s query string parameter in 'query_vars' in itself did not do the trick; the search template is loaded, and relevant search results are shown. Does this mean I have to clear the s query string variable multiple times?
    – MastaBaba
    Commented May 3 at 17:27
  • Wonder if you could try the request filter (see update) instead, it fires a little bit later than query_vars filter within the same class method WP::parse_request().
    – birgire
    Commented May 3 at 17:53
  • 1
    Yes! Awesome! Thanks!
    – MastaBaba
    Commented May 3 at 21:02

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