How do I override the default way Wordpress' determines the .current-menu-item class?

Tags: php,css,wordpress,wordpress-plugin,bbpress

Problem :

Lots of people, both here on SOW and elsewhere, are having my same exact problem.

I've installed the BBpress plugin on my site here. This plugin enables a FORUM on the site.

I've wrestled for days (to no avail) on this documented issue where the plugin causes the wrong menu item to be highlighted when any Forum sub-menu item is chosen. Instead, the Blog menu item gets highlighted by default.

Check it out: Click on Forum and this resulting page highlights the "Forum" menu item okay. But click on "Test forum" (or drill down into any other Forum item) and the resulting page always has "Blog" highlighted.

Here's what I know so far:

  • It can't be fixed with CSS alone.
  • I am using Permalinks (with "Post name" selected)
  • PHP assigns a .current-menu-item and/or a .current_page_item class (along with their corresponding -ancestor and -parent classes) to menu items based on the page you've navigated to. For some reason, it is failing to see any Forum submenu as a current page. As a result, it is defaulting to "Blog" as the current page item.
  • So I know I need to do the following:
    1. have Wordpress check the URL upon each page load
    2. if "/forums/" is part of the URL, remove all .current-menu* and .current_page* classes (the wildcard is necessary to purge the ancestor/parent classes).
    3. then assign .current-menu-item and .current_page_item classes to the "Forum" menu item.

The problem is, while I think i'm getting close, I don't know how - exactly - to do this.

I've tried a bunch of things.

I found this Jquery solution but don't know how to implement it, nor am I confident in this approach:

// First add a “forum-class” to your forums menu item in your custom menu 
// Then add this to your js file with YOURURL = the url of your site and forums = your forums slug : 

$(function() { 
    var forumURL = window.location.href.indexOf("YOURURL/forums/");
    if(forumURL > -1){

Then, I found this approach which seemed closer to what I wanted, but it introduces a new class and doesn't seem to clear the incorrect classes from the Blog menu. Plus, I don't know where exactly to put this code, or where to create the js file.

if (strtolower($thats_all->post_title) == "forum" || strtolower($thats_all->post_title) == "forums") {
    $addclass = ' class="current_page"';
} else {
    $addclass = '';

Finally, I found this which is what I think I need, but I'm having trouble implementing it (I've tried sticking it in my menu-primary.php and header.php but no go).

// this forces the class current-menu-item to a menu item which I named 'forums' 

add_filter('nav_menu_css_class', 'remove_link_parent_menu_classes', 420 ,3);
function remove_link_parent_menu_classes($classes, $item, $args){

if(strpos($item->url, '/forums/') !== true)
    return array_diff($classes, array('current_page_item', 'current-menu-item'));

return $classes;

I think I'm close. Really close. Just need a push in the right direction. I need to know:

  • will the latter solution above work?
  • which file, and where exactly in the file, do I need to place the code?


Solution :

I finally cracked it! Using the above clues, I figured out this code that worked for me.

add_filter( 'nav_menu_css_class', 'namespace_menu_classes', 10, 2 );
function namespace_menu_classes( $classes , $item ){
    if ( get_post_type() == 'forum' ) {
        $classes = str_replace( 'current_page_parent', '', $classes );
        $classes = str_replace( 'menu-item-16', 'current_page_parent', $classes );
    return $classes;

Copy the above at the end of the function.php file.

Then change 'forum' to the slug name you've chosen and replace 'menu-item-16' with the correctly numbered menu item that you want highlighted (you will need to use your web browser's developer tools to inspect your site to be able to find this).

This took me a week to figure out (and learn the php required)! Good luck and hope this helps everyone else out there.

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