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Updating metadata (in bulk) the right way

  • Hello all,

    Hope you’re doing well!

    I’m trying to pull the data of a meta_value, which is a raw url (an attachment), then convert it to an integer ID (the attachment ID), to then update a new custom field made with ACF.

    What would be the best way to do this in bulk?
    I’ve tried the following code with no success (please note I’m not a developer).

    add_action('acf/save_post', 'pet_adoption_fund_update_meta');
    function pet_adoption_fund_update_meta( $post_id ) {
        // $file_route will return an url, like so:
        $file_route = get_post_meta( get_the_ID(), 'volunteer_profile_file', true );
        $file_id = '';
        $file_id = attachment_url_to_postid( $file_route );
        if ( empty( get_field( 'volunteer_attachment' ) ) ) { // ACF field. Don't update if already it's been filled in.
            update_post_meta( $post_id, 'volunteer_attachment', $file_id );

    While this seems to work (on save), this is not always the case. I’m unsure if this code is right and also I fear editing hundreds of entries.

    How can I correctly update this metadata for all posts?

    Any help is much appreciated.
    Thank you in advance,

  • If you have a URL stored then how you are attempting to get the ID is the only way that I know of to do this.

    As far as bulk updating this would be very difficult for someone that has experience, I would not attempt this.

    I would create code similar to what you have for when the post is updated, except that I would move the check to see if there is a value before I did any work

    // put at top of function
    if (!empty( get_field('volunteer_attachment', $post_id))) {
      // ACF field. Don't update if already it's been filled in.

    Then try to get the ID value. When you update you need to use update_field() with the field key (not the field name) because it is an image field that does not already have a value.

    update_field('field_XXXXXXX', $file_id , $post_id)'

    Once this is in place I would alter my theme file to use the new value and use the old value if the new field does not have a value

    if (get_field('new_field_name')) {
      // new field has a value, use it here
    } else {
      // new field has no value, get value of old field and use it instead
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