Bulk Delete Tags in WordPress without a Plug-in

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ll find that as your database grows larger, so does the opportunity for database conflicts which can slow down your site. I’m in the place right now. My site kept failing and my ISP suggested it was partially caused by my enormous post tag file – over 30K in all.

The first thing I did was a to search for a plug-in that would take care of the problem automatically for me. Unfortunately, while there are some plugins that will delete tags with no associated posts, only those with a zero count could be automatically removed. I wanted it to delete tags with less than 15 uses. I found another plug-in that promised to delete the entire tag file so I could start over with a clean file – it didn’t work at all.

I soon realized that manually deleting the WordPress tags was my only way I was going to get rid of the and while there is a bulk delete function built into WordPress,  it only deletes the number of tags on the page, which in my case was 20. At that rate I’d be deleting for weeks.

I gave in and started the manual deletion process, 20 at a time, for a few hours every night while watching TV. That is until it hit me that I could delete more than 20 at a time with a simple change in my settings! By changing the “Show on Screen” box, I could delete up to 999 at a time which would make the job much quicker.

Manually Mass Delete Tags in WordPress without a Plug-in

  • Back up your blog
  • Log into Admin Panel via your Dashboard
  • Click on Posts and then Tags
  • On the far right-hand side of your screen near the top click on “Screen Options”
  • Enter a numeric value between 0 and 999 in the “Show on screen” box; click “apply”
  • Now you’ll see the number of tags you’ve requested. If you’re looking for the tags with the lowest number of uses, click on the “Posts” title to resort (keep clicking until lowest to highest is shown).
  • Select all of the tags on the page by checking the box at the top of the column to the left of the “Name” header (a checkmark will be added to all of the rows)
  • Choose “Delete” from Bulk Action dropdown  box and click “Apply” to start the deletion process. Continue for all tags you want to delete but be careful, I deleted all of mine when I didn’t realized I was on my last page.
  • I always repair and optimize my database after a large deletion and suggest you do too.

I did discover that one of my plug-ins was making 999 impossible so I lowered the number to 499 which worked fine. If you find a conflict try turning off the plug-in while you delete. I couldn’t as my conflict was with my off-site website backup and it wouldn’t have made the changes to the backup had I turned it off.