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Default value for the taxonomy field type

  • It would be nice to be able to set a default value for the taxonomy field type

  • Thread has been marked for the developer when he has time to look at feature requests here.

  • Is the default value filterable?

    I’ve seen this post on filtering default tax field for front end editor, but the filter’s not working for me in the basic back end admin.

  • I just tried this and the example I gave still seems to be working.

    This if for checkbox/multiselect field type

    add_filter('acf/load_field/key=field_589c6d5477f05', 'set_tax_default');
    function set_tax_default($field) {
    	$field['default_value'] = array(3,4);
    	return $field;

    and this works for radio and single select

    add_filter('acf/load_field/key=field_589c6d5477f05', 'set_tax_default');
    function set_tax_default($field) {
    	$field['default_value'] = 3;
    	return $field;

    The value needs to match the term ID(s) of the default values you want to set.

  • Hi John,

    I’ve disabled all other plugins and switched to 2017 theme, but it’s still not working – odd!

    Here is a screen grab of the web inspector, just to show that i have the relevant field key and default value.

    web inspector for Post Edit admin

    add_filter('acf/load_field/key=field_58086a9b13be5', 'kiteboat_set_tax_default');
    function kiteboat_set_tax_default( $field ) {
      $field['default_value'] = 304; // that's "private"
      return $field;
  • Are you trying to add a default value to a field on a post that was previously save without a value?

    If this is an exiting post, does it do the same thing when you add a new post?

    What version of ACF are you using?

  • Thanks John. Using ACF 5.5.7.

    This is for adding a new post. I’m not too concerned about previously saved posts, just trying to get the default working for new posts.

    screen: http://localhost:8888/projectkiteboat/wp-admin/post-new.php

  • I think I recreated it. Do you have Load Terms set to yes?

  • Just checked. Yes i do!

    Should I not? and if not how will the postbox get the saved terms?

  • I would say that you’ll need to go about setting the default value differently in this case. You’re using a custom taxonomy, so that should make things a bit less difficult since your not dealing with “Uncategorized”

    Rather than using acf/load_field in this case you should use acf/load_value with a priority > 10

    Going to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what needs to be done, this is a bit of a guess.

    add_filter('acf/load_value/key=field_58086a9b13be5', 'kiteboat_set_tax_default', 20, 3);
    function kiteboat_set_tax_default( $value, $post_id, $field ) {
    	if ($value === false && get_post_status($post_id) == 'auto-draft') {
    		$value = 304;
      return $value;
  • Thanks, I read through the docu on that filter.

    I also tried using acf/prepare_field. I’m not sure any of these filters is getting fired, though. I have added error_log( print_r ( $field, true )); into the filter just to check that variable and nothing is appearing in the debug log.

    With the acf/load_value filter I tried using various priorities, and also eliminated the post_status check ( so any false value would trigger the default ) but still nothing’s doing.

    What’s the last parameter on the filter, ‘3’?

  • The last parameter is the number of parameters that WP sends to your filter.

    There are only a couple of reasons the filter wouldn’t be running. Either you have the wrong field key or the code is in the wrong place. What file did you put it in?

  • Oh jeez! I had been modding the wrong functions.php, since i switched to the default theme. I can confirm the load_value filter fires and works as expected. Thanks for sticking with me.

  • No problem, I managed to learn something as well, that a filter I thought should work will not when using load and set terms, which is something that I do quite often.

  • @hube2 Your load_value version was spot on. Good work!

  • Just adding this here in case someone else needs this. This piece of code will add the first taxonomy term as default for all taxonomy fields *on the frontend*. I needed this for frontend forms, but feel free to remove the “is_admin” check if that’s what you need.

    Beware of potential overhead if you have many terms or fields that would be triggered by this.

    function set_tax_default($field) {
    		$terms = get_terms($field['taxonomy'], ['number' => 1]);
    		if($terms) {
    			$single_term = reset($terms);
    			$field['default_value'] = $single_term->term_id;
    	return $field;
    add_filter('acf/load_field/type=taxonomy', 'set_tax_default');
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