Parsing shortcodes in WordPress with get_shortcode_regex

The WordPress get_shortcode_regex function is used to retrieve the regular expression pattern that matches a shortcode. This can be useful for plugin and theme developers who need to parse and manipulate shortcodes within their WordPress projects. By using the get_shortcode_regex function, developers can easily extract and work with shortcodes in a reliable and consistent manner.

  • It provides a standardized way to identify and extract shortcodes from content.
  • It simplifies the process of parsing and manipulating shortcode attributes and content.
  • It ensures that developers are using a consistent and reliable regular expression pattern for matching shortcodes.

The get_shortcode_regex function helps to streamline the handling of shortcodes within WordPress projects, making it easier for developers to work with and manipulate shortcode content.

Parameters accepted by the get_shortcode_regex function

  • $tagnames (array, optional. Default value: null): List of shortcodes to find. Defaults to all registered shortcodes.

The get_shortcode_regex function accepts the $tagnames parameter, which is an array and is optional. Its default value is null. This parameter is used to specify a list of shortcodes to find, and if no value is provided, it defaults to all registered shortcodes.

Value returned by the get_shortcode_regex function

The get_shortcode_regex function returns a string, which is the shortcode search regular expression.


Example 1: Checking if content contains any registered shortcode

$content = "This is some content with a  shortcode.";
$shortcode_regex = get_shortcode_regex();

if (preg_match('/'. $shortcode_regex .'/s', $content)) {
    echo '<p>The content contains one or more shortcodes.</p>';
} else {
    echo '<p>No shortcodes found in the content.</p>';

This example demonstrates how to check if a piece of content contains any registered shortcodes by using the get_shortcode_regex() function to get the regex pattern for matching shortcodes and then applying preg_match() to search the content.

Example 2: Extracting All Shortcodes from Content

$content = "Here's a post with a  and a custom [my_shortcode]!";
$shortcode_regex = get_shortcode_regex();
preg_match_all('/'. $shortcode_regex .'/s', $content, $matches, PREG_SET_ORDER);

if (!empty($matches)) {
    echo '<p>Found shortcodes:</p>';
    foreach ($matches as $shortcode) {
        echo "<p>Shortcode: " . $shortcode[2] . "</p>";
} else {
    echo '<p>No shortcodes found.</p>';

By using preg_match_all() with the regex pattern obtained from get_shortcode_regex(), this example extracts all shortcodes present in the content. It then iterates over the matches to display the shortcode tags found.

Example 3: Filtering Content Based on Specific Shortcode

$content = "Check out this  and this !";
$target_shortcode = 'video';
$shortcode_regex = get_shortcode_regex(array($target_shortcode));

if (preg_match('/'. $shortcode_regex .'/s', $content, $matches) && $matches[2] == $target_shortcode) {
    echo '<p>The content contains the "' . $target_shortcode . '" shortcode.</p>';
} else {
    echo '<p>The "' . $target_shortcode . '" shortcode is not found in the content.</p>';

This example focuses on finding a specific shortcode, in this case, video, within the content. It demonstrates how to tailor the regex pattern to search for a particular shortcode by passing the shortcode tag to get_shortcode_regex(), and then using preg_match() to find it.


In conclusion, the get_shortcode_regex function is an useful utility for developers working with WordPress. It provides a flexible and efficient way to parse and extract shortcodes from content, allowing for greater customization and control over how shortcodes are processed. By understanding and utilizing the capabilities of this function, developers can enhance the functionality and usability of their WordPress websites. With its ability to handle a wide range of shortcode patterns and attributes, get_shortcode_regex is a valuable asset for any WordPress developer.

Related WordPress Functions