Managing WordPress Admin Columns

What Are WordPress Admin Columns?

Admin columns in WordPress are displayed in various areas of your backend administration area. Each column displays different data depending on what admin screen you’re in.

For example, the Post and Page editing screens, the Media Library screen, the Users screen, and more.

How to Manage the Display of Admin Columns and Meta Boxes

By default the display of admin columns on any given admin screen are managed by the built-in Screen Options feature of WordPress. The Screen Options feature handles both the display of admin columns and meta boxes on any given page

It’s a feature that is sometimes missed by both new and experienced users, but one that gives administrators a powerful and efficient way to customize the display of data.

When in any administration screen, look in the upper right of the page for the Screen Options dropdown tab.

WordPress Screen Options Tab
WordPress Screen Options Tab

After clicking that tab, you’ll see a dropdown panel containing the Screen Options available for that specific page.

Note: The available Screen Options change depending on what administration page you are currently on. Also, the Screen Options you choose to make available are saved for your individual user account.

Screen Options for Meta Boxes

Here’s the available Screen Options for the WordPress Dashboard which displays various meta boxes (also known as Dashboard Widgets).

Dashboard Screen Options
Dashboard Screen Options

Screen Options for Admin Data Columns

In the image below, I’m in the the main Posts listing screen. You can see that the default data columns displayed are:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Comments
  • Date
Post Admin Columns
Post Admin Columns

Depending on your specific workflow, or if you have plugins that have added extra columns (like WordPress SEO and many others), you may want to hide some of the columns shown.

Posts Screen Options
Some Screen Options Unchecked

How to Add More Admin Columns to WordPress

As I mentioned briefly above, there are many plugins that add their own columns specific to their individual features, and you can easily hide those.

But what if you want to add extra columns so you can view data already in WordPress but simply not available for display? This was something I came across while working with a client for an SEO review of their images.

When in the main Media Library screen, you only see these columns for images:

  • File Name
  • Author
  • Uploaded to
  • Comments
  • Date
Default Media Library Columns
Default Media Library Columns

In order to see how many of the client images needing some SEO work, I needed to see:

  • Title
  • Caption
  • Alt Text
  • Description

These are fields that are editable during initial image upload or when editing an image and are important to have completed because they are indexed by search engines and read by screen readers.

Better Media Library Fields Plugin

I wrote a plugin in order to view this data that was already available in WordPress, but not an available option in the Screen Options checkboxes.This plugin only affects the display of columns in the Media Library page and not any other admin pages.

The result can be seen in the image below:

Extra Media Library Columns
Extra Media Library Columns

I was pretty pleased and wrote a blog post about the plugin. It was in the comments on that post that I was told about another plugin which did the same thing as my little utility plugin, and so much more.

Codepress Admin Columns Plugin

Wow. This plugin takes Admin Columns to another level and is one you should definitely use if you need to edit and configure the available columns for any administration page, not just the Media Library screen.

The plugin’s description says it all:

Customise columns on the administration screens for post(types), pages, media, comments, links and users with an easy to use drag-and-drop interface.

 

You can do so much with this plugin, including adding or removing columns, changing their label, changing their width and even reordering them.

The list of available columns is impressive. Just a look at the plugin description main page to see what I mean.

Just the available options in the Media Library section of this plugin gives many more options than my little plugin;)

WordPress Admin Columns Plugin
Codepress Admin Columns Media Library Settings

If you have a need to see and display more Admin Columns and associated data in your WordPress administration screens, then you should certainly take a look at your already available Screen Options and consider giving the Codepress Admin Columns plugin a spin.

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