I'm wondering why WordPress doesn't list PHP array() and any serialized data in Custom Fields in Admin Panel (for Pages, Posts etc.)? Only Custom Fields containing strings and numbers show up and can be edited by user manually.

Edit: Why aren't post meta values displayed if they are stored as a non-string value, meaning, stored as either arrays or a serialized value ?

Example: If a post has a meta key 'custom-meta' with a string value as 'yes', it is displayed in the meta box, but if it has an array value like array('value' => 'yes'), it is not displayed in the meta box.

Can I enable this?

  • What admin panel are you talking about? Please add a screen hot.
    – fuxia
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 15:53
  • 1
    Custom Fields are available only in 1 place - in post/page editing screen.
    – Paul
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 16:05
  • I have rephrased the question, hope it's a bit more clear now! Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 16:11
  • Thanks for re-writing this with examples :) But I'm still looking for some clarification. Why arrays don't show up?
    – Paul
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 16:07

3 Answers 3


There is no filter to change that behavior, you would have to replace the entire metabox.

On the other hand: I think there is no really simple way to show and to save those arrays.

Example for a fictive meta key 'foo':

array (
    0 => 2,
    'hello' => array (
        0 => 2,
        'hello' => 'world'

Creating a default interface for such an array would be very hard. This metabox is for simple fields, it should be easy to use. And you cannot just present the serialized string: editing that would probably break it. So I think it is a compromise. Better than nothing, but not perfect.

  • +1. Presenting a serialized string, which is easily broken, to the typical end-user in the default custom fields metabox is a very bad idea. If you're managing to store arrays as values, then hopefully it won't be too much of a leap to create your own metaboxes to handle the data entry and presentation in a user-friendly way. Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 16:18
  • Yes, I have my own meta box and it works great but during development I wanted to check its real value and it didn't show up (which made me think my meta box doesn't save data but in fact it does and works great now). For development purposes (when I delete that custom field if value is null/0/nothing/false) it would be great to see this instead of having to login to database. Thanks anyway :) I see why it's done this way.
    – Paul
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 13:05

For those landing here, you could always just create a custom page template on a private page and then just throw something like this on the template page file:

/*Template Name: Test Post Meta */
$thisPostMeta = get_post_meta($yourPostId, 'meta_key');

//Check for type of value
if (is_array($thisPostMeta)) {
} else {
echo $thisPostMeta;

Note: untested.


I think you can use serialize()


$value = array('value' => 'yes');
$new_value = serialize($value);

Then, you can see the metabox in admin panel.

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