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How to Disable the Search Feature in WordPress

Do you want to disable the search feature in WordPress?

Sometimes your site may not need the search feature or the search form in your theme may interfere with the user experience.

In this article, we will show you how to easily disable the search feature in WordPress.

Disabling search feature in WordPress

Why and Who Should Disable Search Feature in WordPress?

Many WordPress websites are simple business websites with a few pages. There is also a growing trend of one-page websites with vertical navigation.

These websites do not have much content, which makes a search form pointless. It also gives users the impression that there might be some other information that they can’t see and can find through a search.

Removing the search feature will clean up your website and offer a better user experience.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to easily remove the search feature from your WordPress site.

Method 1. Remove Search Feature in WordPress Using a Plugin

This method is simple and straightforward.

First, you need to install and activate the Disable Search plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

You may see a message that this plugin is out of date and has not been tested with your version of WordPress. However, with over 30,000 installations and our own testing, we feel safe recommending it to you.

Upon activation, the plugin will work immediately. There are no settings for you to configure.

It will remove search forms from your WordPress theme and disable the search widget. If a user directly tried to enter a search query URL, the plugin will return a 404 error page.

404 page not found example

Note that this plugin does not affect the search functionality inside the WordPress admin area. You can still search posts and pages inside your WordPress dashboard.

Method 2. Disable Search in WordPress with Code

This method requires you to add code to your site’s WordPress core files. If you haven’t done this before, then take a look at our guide on how to add code snippets in WordPress.

Normally, we don’t recommend editing your WordPress files directly, as even small things can break your site. However, we will be using WPCode, which is the safest and easiest way to add code to your WordPress site.

First, you will need to install the free WPCode plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you will need to find Code Snippets » Add Snippet in your admin dashboard.

Then, you just need to type ‘disable search’ into the field, and then click on ‘Use snippet.’

Search in WPCode for disable search

You will now be taken to a screen where all the settings to run this code snippet have already been configured.

All you need to do is toggle the switch to ‘Active’ and click ‘Update.’

Click the Activate toggle and press Update to disable search in WordPress

This code will not only prevent search queries, but also remove search forms, the search block from the content editor, and the admin bar menu search box.

Users who have access to the site’s admin dashboard, however, will still be able to still search through posts, pages, and comments from there.

A before and after image for wpcode removing search feature

We hope this article helped you learn how to easily disable the search feature in WordPress. You may also want to see our list of 50 common WordPress errors and how to fix them or the 5 best contact form plugins for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

21 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Line 11 of method 2 was not hiding the search form for my installation, but makes the default form appear, which is loaded / generated by general-template.php’s function get_search_form (at least WordPress 5.4.2).

    The function applies the filter get_search_form. In case the filter returns null (null === $result, line 299), the previously loaded or generated default form will be shown or returned.

    To hide the form, I had to change line 11 needs to return an empty string:

    add_filter(‘get_search_form’, function ($a) { return ”; });

  2. i have the same problem in that im failing to access the customization nav and iv tried to make changes in the code but not getting any joy. i have tried to install the plugin but still the search still appears. please some one help how to resolve this issue.
    which folder/file do i get the header menus maybe i can remove it from there, please assist

    • That can vary from theme to theme where the file is after you to into your wp-content/themes/theme name file. Some themes have a header.php while others have the code in another location. If you reach out to your theme’s support they should be able to assist.

      Admin

  3. Thank you for posting this! I was filling my site with all kinds of crazy codes I was finding on the internet in hope of getting rid of that doggone search box! Now everything is good!

  4. Thanks for this. Very useful.

    A few comments:

    1. Method 2 (manual) works for me (i.e., removing search box) on a child theme of twentyeleven, but only for a search *widget* added to a widget area. It leaves the search box that is hard-coded (using get_search_form()) into header.php. I know I can override the parent theme’s header.php by cloning/editing it, but I’l like to know how to disable that search form programatically.

    2. I cannot get Method 2 to work on a Genesis theme. I wonder if you or anyone has some insights here.

    3. A little thing: the method 2 script needs a closing brace on line 14.

    • Thank you for letting us know about the closing brace, we’ll be sure to update it :)

      Admin

  5. Ok it removed the search box but left the search title that we must now figure out how to remove.
    DO you have an plugin for that?
    Seems to me you would have an option like this already installed in the site builder.

  6. Sometimes you can disable the search feature for example, on an one page site that does not really need a search feature.

  7. Thanks for the article. What I need to know is: can I disable only some terms of the search and keep the search function working? I want to exclude things like /?s=d, download, thank, success, congratultions… terms that hackers use to find specific pages inside our sites.

    Can someone help me with this? TIA

  8. Thank you very much.
    I have just been hacked in the database of one of my websites and I have removed all the possible gates to these terrible annoying people, who have nothing to do in life but distroying other people work.
    So I removed the search forms but i did not know how to remove the query string.

  9. Another reason for disabling the search box that comes with WordPress is to replace with a different search box, such as Google Custom Search.

    Google Custom Search allows you to monetize your search pages provides you have an Adsense account.

  10. I’m having a hard time understanding the usefulness of this code. If search is unnecessary wouldn’t it make more sense to not include the search form? If you leave a search form on a page and then don’t let someone use that search form isn’t that very poor usability?

    Am I missing something?

    • You can remove the search form in the design, but the functionality stays. Anyone who knows it is WordPress can simply add a /?s=keyword and search the site. But by removing the form and adding this code will take care of that problem. There will be time when you have a client that only wants pages or posts to be shown if the URL is available. This function will come handy in that sense.

      Admin

    • Yes it makes more sense to leave out search and other widgets and allow the customer to add them if they want them and not put them by default.

  11. Hmmmm…. can’t imaging Search not being important for a CMS. Isn’t the fact that WordPress has such a fine Search feature a huge advantage when using it as a CMS? I can imaging Search only being not important on a small portfolio site say limited to 5 pages or so.

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