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Notifications when custom field value changes not sent if updated programmatically

Won't fix


Form notifications can be triggered when a custom field value changes, if it matches the target value.

Such notifications are sent if the post is edited by a front-end form, or from the back-end post edit screen.

The notifications are not sent if the custom field value is changed programmatically, i.e. using the update_post_meta function.


This is by design. Checking if a custom field value has changed (and matches) every single time any custom field value on the site it updated is inefficient and could lead to performance issues.

A workaround when updating custom field values programmatically is not to update the post meta directly (using update_post_meta), but indirectly by updating the post itself (using wp_update_post).

wp_update_post accepts an argument ‘meta_input’ that is used to update post meta belonging to the post, which is an array of postmeta keys and values. (

So instead of this:

update_post_meta( $post->ID, 'wpcf-choice', 3 );

you could use this, which would trigger the notification:

wp_update_post( array( 'ID' => $post->ID, 'meta_input' => array( 'wpcf-choice' => 3 ) ) );

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