Widgets Gone Wild

Widgets Gone Wild

Today’s tip is quick (and easy!). We’re going to learn how to extend your WordPress widgets without plugins. In 5 minutes or less you’ll know how to:

  1. Use shortcodes in widgets without a plugin
  2. Execute PHP code in widgets without a plugin.

Don’t believe me? Just try it! All you’ll need is your theme’s functions.php file and a party hat.

Use Shortcodes in Widgets Without a Plugin

Ever needed to use a shortcode in a widget area, but couldn’t get it to work? Here’s why: by default, WordPress doesn’t support it. But don’t cry! You can add this short snippet to your theme’s function.php file and you’ll be abusing shortcodes in widgets in no time!

// Enable shortcodes in widgets
add_filter( 'widget_text', 'shortcode_unautop' );
add_filter('widget_text', 'do_shortcode');

Hat tip to Tim Base for alerting me to some issues with shortcodes in widgets on WordPress 4.8+.

Use PHP in Widgets Without a Plugin

Sometimes you might want to execute some php in a widget. You can download plugins to do the job or you can do it yourself with just a handful of code. Add this to your theme’s function.php file:

// Enable PHP in widgets
function execute_php($html){
     return $html;

Done? Now you can pop PHP into a sidebar widget and it’ll work like a charm! If you’d like to know why the code works, I invite you to read this explanation by Emanuele Feronato.

Warning: Use PHP in widgets very judiciously as this is a potential security vulnerability you open by enabling code execution from a widget, versus a file on the server.

Interested in other WordPress Tutorials?

Here are articles specifically for the Genesis Framework and here are general WordPress helper tutorials.


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