Why Can’t I Edit JavaScript Files in the WordPress Theme Editor?

Ever have a client that can’t give you FTP access? Usually not a big deal if you’re using WP, because you can use the Theme Editor to edit your files. But then, surely you’ve noticed, the WP Theme Editor doesn’t allow you to edit JS files… (Though, really annoyingly, you can edit JS files via the Plugin Editor… whaaaat theeee…??)

I finally got sick of this and decided to figure out how to fix this issue. I mean, it might even be as simple as some regex somewhere that was blocking anything with .js, right?

Well, actually, yes, that’s almost exactly what it is. But unfortunately all the restriction takes place inside WP Core files, which I would really rather not edit, for obvious reasons, and I cannot find any hooks that will do the job…

I’ve found three solutions that do not satisfy me:

  1. In wp-includes/themes.php, inside get_themes() on line 352, edit if ( preg_match('|\.css$|', $file) ) so it also allows .js.
  2. In wp-admin/theme-editor.php, on line 58, just before $allowed_files is defined, add $themes[$theme]['Stylesheet Files'][] = TEMPLATEPATH.'/scripts.js';.
  3. Put my scripts.js file into a folder inside wp-content/plugins so WP will think it’s a plug-in, allowing me to jump over the Plug-in Editor to edit it.

Any better ideas out there? Would love to hear them…

17 Responses to Why Can’t I Edit JavaScript Files in the WordPress Theme Editor?

  1. You can create a template file with the standard Template Name header and serve that as a JS file in PHP by altering the header(“Content-type: text/javascript”);
    Downfall — you won’t be able to use register/enqueue scripts. But you can probably write a hook to load your PHP-fake js file after enqueue scripts occur

    • aarontgrogg says:

      @ DavidOSomething: Right, and I’d have to link to that file as a .php file, because the WP Core code is actually filtering on .css and .php; no other file extensions are permitted into the list of files you can select to edit. This isn’t terrible, and it’s another good option, thanks!

    • daniel says:

      very nice

      i like it ;) thanks

  2. Heather says:

    Hi! For your 3 solutions, wouldn’t you still need FTP access to implement those solutions? It doesn’t seem like the files you mentioned are editable through the CMS…

    PS: How dumb that you can’t edit JS but you can edit PHP. You’re much more likely to make a horrible mistake editing the PHP!!

  3. aarontgrogg says:

    @Heather: No, no FTP required, the above three solutions would all allow me to edit JS files via the WP Admin GUI, I just don’t like any of the solutions, they’re all less than ideal… :-)


    • Erick says:

      Hi ATG,

      Not a big wordpress fan, but Im still confused how you would add/install the scripts.js ‘plugin’ from the GUI ??

      • aarontgrogg says:

        @Erick: No, you’re absolutely right, aside from submitting your JS “plugin” to the WP Repository, then adding that plugin via the admin GUI, there is no way. I was really only thinking about editing…

    • John says:

      yeah, but without ftp I can’t edit the core files that you refer to in your solution. correct?

      • aarontgrogg says:

        @John: also correct… sadly… you cannot (and should not) edit the core files, yet cannot add new files or edit JS files via the editor.

  4. Michael says:

    Have you tried the WP Editor plugin? I’m giving it a go now and looks promising.

    Gives you ability to edit all files in the theme, code highlighting amongst others.

    • aarontgrogg says:

      @Michael: I have not, but will check it out, thanks!


    • aarontgrogg says:

      So, yeah, I’ve now tried it, and while it does in fact do exactly what I was looking for on singe-site installations, it does not work for multi-site (http://wordpress.org/support/topic/multisite-110), which is what I have for this site…

      Well, some things do work (like the syntax-coloring in the post editor), the important part for this article (being able to edit JS files), does not… :-(

      But, yes, for single-site, totally something I would recommend!

      Thanks for the recommendation,

    • Alex Stomp says:

      Thanks for this. Was looking for this exact plugin. Hadn’t heard of it, and it’s gonna save my behind.

  5. aarontgrogg says:

    Note, I have just published an update to this conversation, including a solution… :-)

  6. Tazy66 says:


    I just have a breakthrough on the subject. Javacsript and PHP can play together nicely if you place the tag in a PHP file as such:

    $(‘.home_1’).attr(‘src’, ‘ ‘);


  7. Dmitri says:

    add_filter(‘wp_theme_editor_filetypes’, function ($types) {
    $types = array(‘scss’,’js’);

    return $types;

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