I'm looking for a way to programmatically change the settings of an input filter and activate it in Drupal 7. Let's take the Footnotes module as an example: It adds a new input filter that can be activated on input formats. I can navigate to admin/config/content/formats/2 to edit my "Full HTML" input format and there activate the Footnote filter and configure it. But how can I achieve that programmatically?

My first guess was to load the input format using filter_format_load(), change some values and then do a filter_format_save(). But in the object that I get from filter_format_load(), there are no input filters, i.e. $format->filters doesn't exist.

I can get all available filters using filter_list_format() and I believe I could change some values there. But then again, I can't find a way to save those settings.

1 Answer 1


If you read the API page for the functions you mentioned in your question, you can easily see that there is a bug(or a feature) that it does not load populate $filter->filters indeed.

For a workaround, you could do something like this, with the help of filter_list_format()

$format_id = 'full_html';
$filter_id = 'your_filter';

First, load the format object

$format = filter_format_load($format_id);

Now, since we do not have the $filter->filters populated, we do so by loading the currently enabled filters.

$filters = filter_list_format($format_id);
foreach ($filters as $filter_id => $filter_opts) { //Convert to an array, which is expected by the save function.
  $filters[$filter_id] = (array) $filter_opts;

You can now make changes in the filter that you are interested in.

$filters[$filter_id]['status'] = TRUE; //Enable. 
$filters[$filter_id]['settings']['something'] = 'foobar';

Inject filters to the format we have already loaded.

$format->filters = $filters;


  • Thanks a lot for the quick and interesting answer! Actually I thought about that, too. But in line 219 of filter.module I read that "Programmatic saves may not contain any filters" -- but it seems that's not really true. ;)
    – yotka
    Sep 6, 2015 at 13:47
  • Two corrections though: $format_id would be numeric and the status would need to be set to 1/0, not TRUE/FALSE.
    – yotka
    Sep 6, 2015 at 13:49
  • @AyeshK - this answer saved me a ton of time! Thank you so much for sharing! A tiny update - $filters[$filter_id]['status'] = TRUE; status accepts only integer values now so I used $filters[$filter_id]['status'] = 1; to enable the filter. Cheers!
    – oksana-c
    Feb 15, 2017 at 23:50

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