Customize the WordPress admin menu based on user roles

WordPress can be a powerful content management system but if you have multiple users often some can end up with permissions that you really wish they didn’t have. There are plenty of plugins that will let you customize user permissions but it’s not that hard to do ourselves by removing certain links from the admin menu for those specific user roles.

Note that this method doesn’t actually remove user permissions but hides the links in the dashboard that would get them there.

Basic example

Add the following to functions.php (or create your own plugin) to remove the “Tools” menu from any user with a role lower than Author.

add_action( 'admin_init', 'my_remove_menu_pages' );
function my_remove_menu_pages() {
	// If the user does not have access to publish posts
	if(!current_user_can('publish_posts')) {
		// Remove the "Tools" menu
		remove_menu_page('tools.php');
	}
}

Removing the Tools menu

You can choose a variety of user levels rather than publish_posts for example edit_users, delete_pages, etc. View a complete list of WordPress roles and capabilities.

The function remove_menu_page() removes a menu item based off of the menu slug you pass it. To figure out that the menu slug was named tools.php I used used Chrome’s developer tools and right clicked on the Tools menu and selected Inspect element. This showed me that the tools menu was linked as <a href="tools.php" tabindex="1">Tools</a>.

To save you the hassle of figuring out each menu slug I listed them below.

Removing sub-menu items

add_action( 'admin_init', 'my_remove_menu_pages' );
function my_remove_menu_pages() {
	// If the user does not have access to add new users
	if(!current_user_can('add_users')) {
		// Remove the "Link Categories" menu under "Links"
		remove_submenu_page( 'link-manager.php', 'edit-tags.php?taxonomy=link_category' );
	}
}

Removing the Tools menu

The function remove_submenu_page() is similar but takes two arguments, the parent menu’s slug and the sub-menu’s slug. Once again you can find the slugs by inspecting each menu link or view the complete list below.

Mixed example

add_action( 'admin_init', 'my_remove_menu_pages' );
function my_remove_menu_pages() {
	if(!current_user_can('add_users')) {
		remove_menu_page('options-general.php'); // Settings
		remove_menu_page('tools.php'); // Tools
		remove_menu_page('upload.php'); // Media
		remove_submenu_page( 'edit.php', 'edit-tags.php?taxonomy=category' ); // Post categories
		remove_submenu_page( 'edit.php', 'edit-tags.php?taxonomy=post_tag' ); // Post tags
	}
}

WordPress admin menu slugs

Dashboardremove_menu_page(‘index.php’);
Dashboardremove_submenu_page( ‘index.php’, ‘index.php’ );
Updatesremove_submenu_page( ‘index.php’, ‘update-core.php’ );

Postsremove_menu_page(‘edit.php’);
Postsremove_submenu_page( ‘edit.php’, ‘edit.php’ );
Add Newremove_submenu_page( ‘edit.php’, ‘post-new.php’ );
Categoriesremove_submenu_page( ‘edit.php’, ‘edit-tags.php?taxonomy=category’ );
Post Tagsremove_submenu_page( ‘edit.php’, ‘edit-tags.php?taxonomy=post_tag’ );
Mediaremove_menu_page(‘upload.php’);
Libraryremove_submenu_page( ‘upload.php’, ‘upload.php’ );
Add Newremove_submenu_page( ‘upload.php’, ‘media-new.php’ );
Linksremove_menu_page(‘link-manager.php’);
Linksremove_submenu_page( ‘link-manager.php’, ‘link-manager.php’ );
Add Newremove_submenu_page( ‘link-manager.php’, ‘link-add.php’ );
Link Categoriesremove_submenu_page( ‘link-manager.php’, ‘edit-tags.php?taxonomy=link_category’ );
Pagesremove_menu_page(‘edit.php?post_type=page’);
Pagesremove_submenu_page( ‘edit.php?post_type=page’, ‘edit.php?post_type=page’ );
Add Newremove_submenu_page( ‘edit.php?post_type=page’, ‘post-new.php?post_type=page’ );
Commentsremove_menu_page(‘edit-comments.php’);

Appearanceremove_menu_page(‘themes.php’);
Themesremove_submenu_page( ‘themes.php’, ‘themes.php’ );
Widgetsremove_submenu_page( ‘themes.php’, ‘widgets.php’ );
Menusremove_submenu_page( ‘themes.php’, ‘nav-menus.php’ );
Editorremove_submenu_page( ‘themes.php’, ‘theme-editor.php’ );
Pluginsremove_menu_page(‘plugins.php’);
Pluginsremove_submenu_page( ‘plugins.php’, ‘plugins.php’ );
Add Newremove_submenu_page( ‘plugins.php’, ‘plugin-install.php’ );
Editorremove_submenu_page( ‘plugins.php’, ‘plugin-editor.php’ );
Usersremove_menu_page(‘users.php’);
Usersremove_submenu_page( ‘users.php’, ‘users.php’ );
Add Newremove_submenu_page( ‘users.php’, ‘user-new.php’ );
Your Profileremove_submenu_page( ‘users.php’, ‘profile.php’ );
Toolsremove_menu_page(‘tools.php’);
Toolsremove_submenu_page( ‘tools.php’, ‘tools.php’ );
Importremove_submenu_page( ‘tools.php’, ‘import.php’ );
Exportremove_submenu_page( ‘tools.php’, ‘export.php’ );
Settingsremove_menu_page(‘options-general.php’);
Generalremove_submenu_page( ‘options-general.php’, ‘options-general.php’ );
Writingremove_submenu_page( ‘options-general.php’, ‘options-writing.php’ );
Readingremove_submenu_page( ‘options-general.php’, ‘options-reading.php’ );
Discussionremove_submenu_page( ‘options-general.php’, ‘options-discussion.php’ );
Mediaremove_submenu_page( ‘options-general.php’, ‘options-media.php’ );
Privacyremove_submenu_page( ‘options-general.php’, ‘options-privacy.php’ );
Permalinksremove_submenu_page( ‘options-general.php’, ‘options-permalink.php’ );
Posted in ,

Seth Stevenson

Digital Marketing Expert For small businesses and non-profits Seth Stevenson is a Des Moines-based digital marketing expert. He provides a full range of marketing services, including web design, search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, and more.