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Search and Replace

Learn about configuration requirements for search and replace on WordPress Multisites.

This section provides information on how to configure automatic platform Search and Replace for URLs. This feature can be used with both subdirectory and subdomain WordPress Multisites.


You must have the following to enable Search and Replace:


If your pantheon.yml file is different between environments, the search_replace value in your source environment’s pantheon.yml file will determine if the job runs or not. When you create a Multidev, the source environment is where you clone the database and files from.


See the following Search and Replace defaults for new and existing WordPress Multisites on Pantheon:

WP Multisite ConfigurationDefault search_replace value
Existing Multisite - Subdirectory
New Multisite - Subdirectorytrue
Existing Multisite - Subdomain
New Multisite - Subdomainfalse

Subdirectory WordPress Multisite Search and Replace Configuration

For sites created before August 1, 2023

Enabling Search and Replace for Subdirectory Multisites requires a true value for the search_replace parameter in your pantheon.yml.

search_replace: true

For sites created after August 1, 2023

No additional configuration is needed for Subdirectory Multisite Search and Replace. Search and Replace will match the behavior of the platform’s Search and Replace for non-Multisite sites.

If you wish to disable Multisite Search and Replace, alter your pantheon.yml file to include a false value for the search_replace parameter.

search_replace: false

Subdomain WordPress Multisite Search and Replace Configuration

Search and Replace runs on the platform as part of creating an environment, deploying to Test or Live, and when cloning content between environments. There is currently a limit of 25 sites that can be configured for Search and Replace via domain mapping.

We are collecting feedback

We are collecting feedback about use cases that require more than 25 URLs to be replaced. Please fill out this form if this is the case. Alternatively, check out the Subdomain to Subdirectory Multisite Conversion option below which does not have any limits.

By default, Subdomain Multisites do not run any Search and Replace. Enabling Search and Replace for Subdomain Multisites requires setting the search_replace value to custom in pantheon.yml and creating a sites.yml. Environments that need to be replaced are defined and paired in the sites.yml file for subdomain Multisites. Search and replace runs for each domain listed in the source environment that has a matching key in the target environment. If Search and Replace is enabled for an environment, but the sites.yml file does not exist, nothing will be updated. If the sites.yml file is different between environments, the domain_maps in the target environment’s sites.yml file will be used to determine what is replaced.

  1. Open your pantheon.yml file and set the search_replace value to custom.

    search_replace: custom
  2. Create a sites.yml file inside the private/ folder.

  3. Define and pair the environments to be replaced like the sample code below.

    api_version: 1 # Currently only one api version.
    # file should be placed in the /private folder
    # "domain_maps" is a collection of blog URLs for each environment used to
    # facilitate search-replace of a WordPress Multisite (WPMS) across pantheon
    # environments. Each key of "domain_maps" must be a valid environment name.
      # environment: <collection of domains to be used on this environment>
      # i.e. dev, test, live, feat-branch, &c.
        # each environment collection maps the blog ID to its URL. A url must be
        # set in both the target and source environments for search-replace to be
        # run.
        # i.e. 2:
     # Anything else in the file will be ignored, but not rejected.
  4. Validate the sites.yml file (recommended) with Pantheon's sites-yml-validator utility available on GitHub. The project's README file includes details on how to install and use the utility.

  5. Commit the sites.yml file in the private/sites.yml in the site’s Git repository.

Subdomain to Subdirectory Multisite Conversion

Sites can also be configured to use Subdomain Multisite in the Live environment, and Subdirectory in all other environments.

To configure this:

  1. Open your pantheon.yml file and set the search_replace value to convert.

    search_replace: convert
  2. Open your wp-config.php file and locate the SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL key.

  3. Set the SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL value to conditional:

    if ( ! empty( $_ENV['PANTHEON_ENVIRONMENT'] ) && $_ENV['PANTHEON_ENVIRONMENT'] ==  'live' ) {
      define( 'SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', true );
    • This step is not required, but ensures that you can create new sites as subdomain sites in the Live environment while your other environments create the new sites as subdirectory sites.

The domain map in the sites.yml file is not necessary when converting from subdomain to subdirectory structure. When cloned, subdomains, domains, and subdirectories on the Live site will convert with the following pattern:

  • =>
  • =>
  • =>
  • =>
  • =>

Sites configured for subdomain conversion will only run the conversion step from Live to a non-live environment. All other workflows assume a subdirectory-to-subdirectory search and replace. There is no limit on domains when using the conversion step.

search_replace Parameter Reference

  • _null_: No search_replace value. Defaults to false. Sites created after July 31, 2023 will default to true.
  • true: Runs a Search and Replace for a Subdirectory multisite.
  • false: Do not run Search and Replace at all.
  • custom: Run Search and Replace based on the domain map in sites.yml. Requires a valid sites.yml to exist.
  • convert: Run Subdomain to Subdirectory conversion when cloning from the Pantheon Live environment, and Subdirectory to Subdirectory in all other cases.

Known Issues

  • WordPress Multisites that are using Integrated Composer, such as the WordPress (Composer Managed) upstream, are currently unable to use Multisite Search and Replace. For those sites, we recommend setting the search_replace value to false and using WP-CLI via Terminus to perform the Search and Replace. See Run WP-CLI search-replace Manually for more information.

  • When using the default Subdirectory search and replace, creating a new multidev with database and files pulled from the live environment will only search and replace the platform domain, i.e. live-{site} To search and replace the correct domain on your live site, immediately follow multidev creation with a database clone either through the dashboard or with Terminus, and select the correct domain as the "from" URL. We are working on handling this seamlessly in the future.

More Resources