[WooCommerce] Sort by Custom Attributes


I created a plugin for this plus many other features. Click here to view it.

To add extra sorting options to your WooCommerce pages using products’ meta data you can use the following


However, I wanted to add some sorting options that use the WooCommerce’s custom attributes. According to this thread, the product attributes are saved in a serialized format in the database and therefore it’s not feasible to do it directly.

To use the provided WooCommerce filters the attributes should be saved as meta data.

When a post that has some custom attributes set is updated, the submitted data ($_REQUEST) contains the following:

'attribute_names' =>
 array (
 0 => 'pa_pub-year',
 1 => 'pa_pub-author',
 'attribute_position' =>
 array (
 0 => '1',
 1 => '1',
'attribute_is_taxonomy' =>
 array (
 0 => '1',
 'attribute_values' =>
 array (
 0 => '1990',
 1 => '',
 2 => '',

The approach I followed is to get the submitted attributes and save them as post meta data. Afterwards, the code provided by WooCommerce to sort using attributes, with a tiny modification, worked successfully.

The code is as follows

/************* Add sorting by attributes **************/

 *	Defines the criteria for sorting with options defined in the method below
add_filter('woocommerce_get_catalog_ordering_args', 'custom_woocommerce_get_catalog_ordering_args');

function custom_woocommerce_get_catalog_ordering_args( $args ) {
	global $wp_query;
        // Changed the $_SESSION to $_GET
	if (isset($_GET['orderby'])) {
		switch ($_GET['orderby']) :
			case 'pa_pub-year' :
				$args['order'] = 'ASC';
				$args['meta_key'] = 'pa_pub-year';
				$args['orderby'] = 'meta_value_num';
	return $args;

 *	Adds the sorting options to dropdown list .. The logic/criteria is in the method above
add_filter('woocommerce_catalog_orderby', 'custom_woocommerce_catalog_orderby');

function custom_woocommerce_catalog_orderby( $sortby ) {
	$sortby['pa_pub-year'] = 'Sort by Year: Older to Newer';
	return $sortby;

 *	Save custom attributes as post's meta data as well so that we can use in sorting and searching
add_action( 'save_post', 'save_woocommerce_attr_to_meta' );
function save_woocommerce_attr_to_meta( $post_id ) {
        // Get the attribute_names .. For each element get the index and the name of the attribute
        // Then use the index to get the corresponding submitted value from the attribute_values array.
	foreach( $_REQUEST['attribute_names'] as $index => $value ) {
		update_post_meta( $post_id, $value, $_REQUEST['attribute_values'][$index] );
/************ End of Sorting ***************************/

This should be placed in the functions.php file of your theme.


34 thoughts on “[WooCommerce] Sort by Custom Attributes

  1. Hey, thanks for this I found it really useful!
    However, I can’t get it to update the meta data using a product import plugin. I would have thought save_post would have been hooked and everything would be sweet. Any ideas why it won’t save the attributes to the posts meta data on import?
    Similarly, it doesn’t update if I do a bulk edit either… The metadata only gets written if I edit and save each product individually : I think I’m missing something…

  2. Hi Galal,

    Thank you for your solution, it works perfectly! What I’d really like to be able to do is set the Custom Attribute as the ‘Default Product Sorting’ option in the Woocommerce backend.

    Do you have any idea how to do that?

    • Actually, don’t worry about it, I’ve decided to use the the built in Woocommerce menu order as it suits my site better and I can upload the data via the CSV suite using ‘menu_order’ as a custom field. Thanks anyway!

        • sfsdfsfsfs@mail.com

          Great idea! I’ve just tried to install your plugin and when I click the button “Process products” nothing seems to happen (button is grayed out already for about 1 hour now), I do have to notice that I have over 2,000 products in my store and I don’t actually know what the process behind the button action is, but maybe it’s just timing out because of the volume it needs to check? Isn’t there a possibility to change some code manually in the plugin so my desired custom attributes to sort on become visible? Thanks!

  3. First, thanks so very much for this code.

    I added the code to my site and now I can see the option to sort the products by, but when I select it I am told “No products were found matching your selection.”.

    The only thing I changed was the name of the attribute to sort by.

    Any ideas???

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  9. Hi, I tried to copy your code and paste it under my functions.php, but then the result was nothing. How can I save the attributes as meta data? Hope that you can help me. Thanks.

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