Is it possible to create a menu with a category such that each time that I had a sub category that automatically display on the menu?

As far as I know, if I have a menu with the category "fruit", and I create the subcategory "bananas", I have to manually add it.

  • I would recommend JC Submenu from James Collings. Add new from WordPress plugins page. I is very simple to use and helpful. Just install, activate and select "JC Submemu" when adding a category in your main menu in your dashboard. Commented May 4, 2017 at 16:51

8 Answers 8


This depends on what kind of menu you are talking about:


If you are talking about "custom menus" (found in the Backend under Design -> Menus) you can do the following:

  • Create a new function with the action hook add_category

  • inside of this function, you can create a new post of type the menu item type, which is added correctly to your menu

  • whenever a new category is published the menu item is added now

  • you should also hook into delete category, to keep your menu up-to-date


You could do much easier without a wordpress menu:

  • just write a function to list your categories (or use the predefined wp_list_categories function)
  • if this is not sufficient write a customized one which (maybe
    recursivley) reads your categories from the database

For option 1 to code you require some knowledge about WordPress though.


I prefer using wp_list_categories. Here is my code I used in my last project:

<?php wp_list_categories('orderby=ID&exclude=3,10,1,16,38&title_li=<span class="sidebar_heading d_shadow">' . __('Categories') . '</span>'); ?>

You will get a list of all your categories and sub-categories.


After many research I found a trustful useful solution, this class works well:

class EntexAutoSubmenu {

     * Constructor
    function __construct(){
        add_action('created_category', array($this, 'on_publish_category'));

     * When publishing a new child category, add it to the appropriate custom menu.
    function on_publish_category($cat_id){

        // Theme supports custom menus?
        if (!current_theme_supports('menus')) return;

        // Published taxonomy has parent?
        $cat = get_category($cat_id);
        if (!$cat->category_parent) return;

        $all_menus = get_terms('nav_menu', array('hide_empty' => true));

        // Loop through the menus to find page parent
        foreach ($all_menus as $menu) {

            $menu_parent = NULL;
            $menu_items = wp_get_nav_menu_items($menu->term_id, array('post_status' => 'publish,draft'));

            if (!is_array($menu_items)) continue;

            foreach ($menu_items as $menu_item){
                // Item already in menu?
                if ($menu_item->object_id == $cat_id) continue 2;
                if ($menu_item->object_id == $cat->category_parent) $menu_parent = $menu_item;

            // Add new item
            if ($menu_parent) {
                wp_update_nav_menu_item($menu->term_id, 0, array(
                    'menu-item-object-id' => $cat_id,
                    'menu-item-object' => $cat->taxonomy,
                    'menu-item-parent-id' => $menu_parent->ID,
                    'menu-item-type' => 'taxonomy',
                    'menu-item-status' => 'publish'

$auto_submenu = new EntexAutoSubmenu();

Another alternative would be to use List Custom Taxonomy Widget, it might work in your use case (if you are not planning to use WP nav_menu).


To solve this problem i tried to create a plugin which automatically create menu item for publish category under it's parent category if in menu.

Idea for plugin:

1.in code, i used "created_$taxonomy" action hook.

2.collect all the menu item ( by using wp_get_nav_menu_items)

3.and put condition if parent of publish category lies in menu-item than a menu-item created as sub menu of it's parent category.(by using wp_update_nav_menu_item)

Plugin Name: Auto Category Submenu
Plugin URI: 
Description: Create menu item when category publish/create if it's parent category in menu item.
Version: 0.1
Author: Mayank Gupta/Ravinder Kumar
Author URI: 
License: GPL2

class AutoSubmenu {

     * Constructor
    function __construct() {
        add_action( 'created_category', array( &$this, 'on_publish_cat' ) );

     * When publishing a new child page, add it to the appropriate custom menu.
    function on_publish_cat( $cat_id ) {
        $cat = get_category( $cat_id );

        //menu id for you menus in which your sub-category's parent category as menu item 
        $menu_ids = array(101,100);

        //retrieve all meu items from menu
        foreach($menu_ids as $menu_id){
            $menu_items[] = wp_get_nav_menu_items( $menu_id, array('post_status' => 'publish','post_type' => 'nav_menu_item','output' => ARRAY_A, ) );
        foreach($menu_items as $menu_item){
            $counter = 0 ;
            foreach($menu_item as $menu_term){
                $menu_terms_id[] = $menu_term->object_id; //all menu items id
        //print_r($menu_terms_id); //test for items in menu
        foreach( $menu_terms_id as $menu_term ){
            if( $cat->category_parent == $menu_term){
                wp_update_nav_menu_item( $cat_id, 0, array(
                'menu-item-object-id' => $cat_id,
                'menu-item-object' => $cat->taxonomy,
                'menu-item-parent-id' => $menu_term,
                'menu-item-type' => 'category',
                'menu-item-status' => 'publish'
            ) );

$auto_submenu = new AutoSubmenu();

Note: plugin giving error (header already sent) and menu item not created when category publish.This may be another topic for problem but i put it here because this may be a solution if some suggest me where i am wrong.Sorry if i'm doing something wrong by putting it here


I coded my own for one my of clients

<div class="menu">
  <ul id="MenuBar1" class="MenuBarHorizontal">
    <li><a <?PHP if( count($_GET) == 0 ){ echo 'class="-current"';} ?> href="<?php echo esc_url( home_url( '/' ) ); ?>">home</a></li>
        $category_ids = get_all_category_ids();
        foreach($category_ids as $cat_id) {
            $cat_name = get_cat_name($cat_id);

            echo '<li><a href="' . get_category_link( $cat_id ) . '">' . $cat_name . '</a>';            
            $args = array( 'numberposts' => -1, 'offset'=> 0, 'cat' => $cat_id, 'orderby' => 'ID', 'order' => 'ASCE' );     

            echo '<ul>';

            /* The 2nd Query (without global var) */
            $query2 = new WP_Query( $args );
            // The 2nd Loop
            while( $query2->have_posts() ):
                echo '<li><a href="' . get_permalink( $query2->post->ID ) . '">' . get_the_title( $query2->post->ID ) . '</a></li>';

            // Restore original Query & Post Data
            echo '</ul>';
        echo '</li>';
  • dont think you closed div class menu
    – Jon
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 14:26
  • get_all_category_ids() is deprecated now Commented Jan 9, 2023 at 12:16

i am using to show all category and sub category of category as a menu in my project.

$all_categories = get_categories( $args );
echo "<div class='container'>";
 echo "<div class='productsubmenu'>";
echo "<ul>";

foreach ($all_categories as $cat)

if($cat->category_parent == 0)
  $category_id = $cat->term_id;
   $thumbnail_id = get_woocommerce_term_meta( $cat->term_id,    'thumbnail_id', true );
$image = wp_get_attachment_url( $thumbnail_id );

echo '<li class="parent '.$my.' "><a href="'.get_term_link( $cat ) . '">'.$cat->name.'</a>';

$args2 = array(
'taxonomy' => $taxonomy,
'child_of' => 0,
'parent' => $category_id,
'orderby' => $orderby,
'show_count' => $show_count,
'pad_counts' => $pad_counts,
'hierarchical' => $hierarchical,
'title_li' => $title,
'hide_empty' => $empty

   $args = array(
   'hierarchical' => 1,
   'show_option_none' => '',
   'hide_empty' => 0,
   'parent' => $parent_cat_ID,
   'taxonomy' => 'product_cat'
 $subcats = get_categories($args2);
 echo '<ul class="wooc_sclist">';

  foreach ($subcats as $sc) { 


    $link = get_term_link( $sc->slug, $sc->taxonomy );
    echo '<li class="'.$my.'" ><a href="'. $link .'">'.$sc->name.'</a></li>';
echo '</ul>';
echo "</li>";


    echo "</ul>";
   echo "</div>";
   echo "</div>";
  • 1
    Answers are usually more than blocks of code. Could you please edit your answer and explain what you're doing and why?
    – Howdy_McGee
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 14:30
  • This code doesn't compile or work, and it is also dependent on WooCommerce. Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 19:47

this is my approach, this works for product categories.

$cat_args = array( 'orderby' => 'name', 'order' => 'asc', 'hide_empty' => true,);
$cats = get_terms( 'product_cat', $cat_args );
foreach ($cats as $key => $cat):
  if ($cat->parent == 0):
    echo $cat->name;
    foreach ($cats as $key => $cat2):
      if ($cat2->parent == $cat->term_id):
        echo $cat2->name;
        foreach ($cats as $key => $cat3):
          if ($cat3->parent == $cat2->term_id):
            echo $cat3->name;

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