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Enhancing Your WordPress Admin Interface with Custom Columns for Any Post Type

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WordPress is known for its incredible flexibility and customization options. Among these, the admin interface stands out, offering a multitude of ways to tailor content management to your needs. One of the most effective customizations is the addition of custom columns to the posts list, which can provide a quick snapshot of critical information for any post type—be it products, events, portfolios, or anything else you can imagine. In this post, we’ll explore how you can enhance your WordPress admin columns, specifically using the Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin, and why opting for custom code gives you a tailored experience and strengthens your website’s security.

Full Guide

Table of Contents

The Power of Custom Columns in WordPress

Custom columns in the WordPress admin area are more than just a convenience; they are a pivotal feature for efficient content management. By default, WordPress offers a set number of columns that display basic information about your posts. However, these aren’t always sufficient for a quick overview, especially when dealing with custom post types that contain specialized data. Adding custom columns allows you to see the details that matter most to you and your team, directly in the posts list of your admin dashboard.

Leveraging ACF for Enhanced Admin Columns

ACF is a powerful plugin that enables you to add custom fields to your WordPress edit screens with ease. These fields can store a variety of data, which is often essential to display within admin columns. For example, if you manage a car dealership’s website, you might have a ‘product’ post type that would benefit from custom columns such as ‘MPG’ and ‘Engine Size’. ACF allows you to add these data points to each product, and with some coding, you can make these visible every time you view your list of products.

Coding Custom Columns for Any Post Type

The process of adding custom columns can be applied universally to any post type. You’ll need to hook into two WordPress hooks: manage_{$post_type}_posts_columns, which filters the columns in the admin list table, and manage_{$post_type}_posts_custom_column, which allows you to output custom content for each new column.

Here’s a snippet that demonstrates how you would add ‘MPG’ and ‘Engine Size’ columns to a ‘product’ post type:

					// Add the custom columns to the post type
function add_acf_columns ( $columns ) {
   return array_merge ( $columns, array ( 
     'mpg' => __ ( 'MPG' ),
     'engine_size' => __ ( 'Engine Size' ) 
   ) );
add_filter ( 'manage_product_posts_columns', 'add_acf_columns' );

// Populate the custom columns with the ACF data
function custom_column ( $column, $post_id ) {
   switch ( $column ) {
     case 'mpg':
       echo get_post_meta ( $post_id, 'mpg', true ); 

     case 'engine_size':
       echo get_post_meta ( $post_id, 'engine_size', true );
add_action ( 'manage_product_posts_custom_column', 'custom_column', 10, 2 );


Remember to replace ‘mpg’ and ‘engine_size’ with the actual field names as defined in your ACF settings.

Displaying ACF Field Data in Custom Columns

The beauty of ACF is that once you’ve set up your fields, displaying this data is straightforward. Using the get_post_meta function, you can retrieve the values of your custom fields and output them in the admin list table. This function will fetch the stored data for each post, allowing you to quickly view the specifics directly from the dashboard without the need to edit each post individually.

Advantages of Using Custom Code Over Plugins

While plugins can add a lot of functionality to your WordPress site with little effort, they also come with a risk. Outdated or poorly maintained plugins can introduce security vulnerabilities. By writing your own code for custom columns, you minimize reliance on third-party solutions, keeping your site more secure and ensuring that the functionality is exactly what you need.


Custom columns are a powerful way to enhance the functionality of your WordPress admin for any post type. They provide immediate access to the information that’s most important to you and your content management process. By integrating custom fields from ACF into these columns and

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