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How to manage WordPress, plugins & themes with WP-CLI

There is a command-line interface for WordPress called WP-CLI.

Update plugins, configure multisite installations, and more, without having to open a web browser.

Requirements of WP-CLI

In order to install WP-CLI, you will need SSH access. Most shared hosting providers do not allow SSH access, however, the QuickHostUK web hosting packages do allow this. If you enjoy spinning up your own servers, we also offer Cloud-based VPS.

There are also a few basic requirements:

  • PHP 5.3.2 or later.
  • WordPress 3.4 or later.
  • UNIX like environment such as Linux.

How to Install WP-CLI

Start by connecting to your server’s command line via SSH. Using cURL or wget, you can install the latest version of WP-CLI. The latest version of the WP-CLI installation file can be found at:

Download the file using the cURL command:

curl -O

Our next step is to make it executable by setting the permissions. Type the following command:

chmod +x wp-cli.phar

For those who use their own server, they can move wp-cli.phar into their bin folder and rename it to wp. You can then use the WP-CLI commands just by typing ‘wp’ at the beginning of the command.

mv wp-cli.phar /usr/local/bin/wp

That’s it! You can now use many of the WP-CLI commands.

Basic WP-CLI Commands

We’ll cover the basic WP-CLI commands very briefly. More commands can be found here.

Using the WP-CLI Help System

By typing “wp help”, you will be able to access a comprehensive help system for WP-CLI.

php wp-cli.phar help

Or, if you moved the file to the bin directory as above:

wp help



  Manage WordPress through the command-line.


  wp <command>


  cache                 Adds, removes, fetches, and flushes the WP Object Cache object.
  cap                   Adds, removes, and lists capabilities of a user role.
  cli                   Reviews current WP-CLI info, checks for updates, or views defined aliases.
  comment               Creates, updates, deletes, and moderates comments.
  config                Generates and reads the wp-config.php file.
  core                  Downloads, installs, updates, and manages a WordPress installation.
  cron                  Tests, runs, and deletes WP-Cron events; manages WP-Cron schedules.
  db                    Performs basic database operations using credentials stored in wp-config.php.
  embed                 Inspects oEmbed providers, clears embed cache, and more.
  eval                  Executes arbitrary PHP code.
  eval-file             Loads and executes a PHP file.
  export                Exports WordPress content to a WXR file.
  help                  Gets help on WP-CLI, or on a specific command.
  i18n                  Provides internationalization tools for WordPress projects.
  import                Imports content from a given WXR file.
  language              Installs, activates, and manages language packs.
  maintenance-mode      Activates, deactivates or checks the status of the maintenance mode of a site.
  media                 Imports files as attachments, regenerates thumbnails, or lists registered image sizes.
  menu                  Lists, creates, assigns, and deletes the active theme's navigation menus.
  network               Perform network-wide operations.
  option                Retrieves and sets site options, including plugin and WordPress settings.
  package               Lists, installs, and removes WP-CLI packages.
  plugin                Manages plugins, including installs, activations, and updates.
  post                  Manages posts, content, and meta.
  post-type             Retrieves details on the site's registered post types.
  rewrite               Lists or flushes the site's rewrite rules, updates the permalink structure.
  role                  Manages user roles, including creating new roles and resetting to defaults.
  scaffold              Generates code for post types, taxonomies, plugins, child themes, etc.
  search-replace        Searches/replaces strings in the database.
  server                Launches PHP's built-in web server for a specific WordPress installation.
  shell                 Opens an interactive PHP console for running and testing PHP code.

Installing WordPress with WP-CLI

It is easy to install WordPress using the WP-CLI command wp core install on your server if you haven’t already done so. This command requires parameters, such as URL, Title, Administrator Username, Password, and Administrator Email.

wp core install --url="your_domain"  --title="Blog Title" --admin_user="admin username" --admin_password="enter_your_password" --admin_email="enter_your_email"

Installing Themes with WP-CLI

Using WP-CLI makes it much faster to import and install themes than going into WordPress admin, searching, and then activating.

Using it, you can import a theme directly from the WordPress theme repository. The following command, for example, will install a theme like TwentyTen:

wp theme install twentyten

It is necessary to use the following command in order to activate the theme on your WordPress website:

wp theme activate twentyten

Installing Plugins with WP-CLI

Plugins can also be installed directly from the official repository, just like themes. The process is simple and takes very little time.

For example, we can install WooCommerce like so:

wp plugin install woocommerce

Your website will now have the WooCommerce plugin after running the above command. We will activate it using the following command:

wp plugin activate woocommerce

To deactivate any plugin, the command becomes:

wp plugin deactivate woocommerce

Updating WordPress Core, Themes and Plugins with WP-CLI

You can easily update the WordPress core, themes, and plugins through the command line.

You can update the WordPress core to the latest stable release by running the following command:

wp core update

Using the following command, you can update WordPress to a specific version, for example, WordPress 5.7, instead of WordPress 5.8.

wp core update --version=5.7

In the event that you want to revert back the WordPress version, the command is:

wp core update --version=5.6 --force

Update plugins either by defining one plugin to update or by updating all of them in one go.

wp plugin update woocommerce

- or -

wp plugin update --all

The same applies to the themes. The following command updates WordPress themes through WP-CLI:

wp theme update twentyten

- or -

wp theme update --all

You can manage your WordPress sites using WP-CLI via the command line, and it is a powerful tool. You can also manage your database, take backups, manage posts, comments, and manage multiple WordPress sites. It definitely speeds up your tasks and makes managing multiple sites easier. WP-CLI is included by default with QucikHostUK’s web hosting packages.

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