If you’ve ever been asked to work on a WordPress website built by an estranged webmaster, you’ve likely faced the following. You prepare to stake your claim to the website only to learn that a password or email change is required. You’re left wondering how to change the WordPress admin email without triggering a confirmation of any kind.
Or worse yet, maybe you can’t even sign in to the WordPress admin account at all. It stands to reason that if you don’t have access to the email assigned to the current admin, you probably don’t have the current password either.
But all hope is not lost. If you have access to the hosting plan that the site is served from, you can change the WordPress admin email without triggering a confirmation email. And you won’t even need the current admin password to do so.
How do I change my WordPress admin email without a confirmation or password?
Under normal circumstances, a WordPress admin can change his or her email or password from the control panel, but both changes require a click or a tap of a confirmation link. If you can’t access the email address receiving those links, follow these steps instead:
- Sign into your hosting account
- Launch phpMyAdmin or an equivalent database tool
- Navigate to the SQL tab of your database tool
- Run the query: UPDATE wp_users SET user_email = 'email@example.com' WHERE ID = 1
- Run: UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = 'firstname.lastname@example.org' WHERE option_name = 'admin_email'
- Reset your password from the WordPress login screen
- Manually replace instances of the previous email address
Sign into your hosting account
In order to proceed, you will need access to the account where the WordPress website is hosted. Without this, you’re not left with many options.
Most hosting providers will be willing to work with customers who have been locked out of their accounts. As a paying customer, you certainly have the right to access the account as long as you can prove you’re the owner. Navigate to cPanel or your hosting provider’s control panel tool of choice after signing in.
Launch phpMyAdmin or an equivalent database tool
You’ll need to get your hands a little dirty if you hope to change your WordPress email address without a current password or confirmation link. All WordPress user information (including email addresses) is stored in a database, and you’ll need to dig into yours to continue.
But fear not. Nearly all hosting companies offer tools that make quick work of otherwise complex database changes. These tools expose database entries in a spreadsheet-like format and allow for inline updates of all database values.
phpMyAdmin is the most common database tool made available to shared hosting customers. Locate phpMyAdmin or its equivalent in your hosting control panel and launch it.
Navigate to the SQL tab of your database tool
The current phpMyAdmin UI is divided into two halves. The first half on the left serves as a database tree, and you can use it to quickly drill down into a specific database table.
Turn your attention instead to the right half of the interface. This section is further divided into tabs along the top of the interface. Visit the “SQL” tab to reveal a textarea where you’ll paste and run a couple of short but powerful queries. You may need to click or tap your database in the left hand of the interface in order to expose this tab.
Run the query: UPDATE wp_users SET user_email = ‘email@example.com’ WHERE ID = 1
Copy, paste, and run the following query in the SQL tab of phpMyAdmin or your database tool of choice. To run the pasted query from phpMyAdmin, just click or tap the “Go” button near the bottom right corner of the SQL tab.
UPDATE wp_users SET user_email = 'firstname.lastname@example.org' WHERE ID = 1
This query works by immediately updating the email address assigned to the user who launched your WordPress website. Just be sure to replace the email@example.com email address with your own.
This method will work only if the user that initially created the website still exists and has admin privileges. By default, the first user added to any WordPress website is given full admin rights.
Run: UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ WHERE option_name = ‘admin_email’
The previous query changes the email address assigned to your website’s admin account, but the address that was supplied in the Settings area of your WordPress control panel may continue to receive site-related notices. Use the following query to replace that address. This query completely bypasses the standard email change confirmation process.
UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = 'email@example.com' WHERE option_name = 'admin_email'
If the query was run without error, you are safe to close the database tool. With these changes out of the way, you’re ready to request a new control panel password.
Reset your password from the WordPress login screen
Now that you’ve updated your WordPress admin email, you should go ahead and change the password as well. If you don’t, the estranged webmaster could still sign into your website with a username instead of his or her email.
With your new admin email address handy, visit https://www.example.com/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword (after replacing example.com with your own domain). Paste your WordPress email into the resulting form and continue to receive straightforward password reset instructions.
If you ran both of the queries provided above, the previous webmaster will not receive confirmation links or notifications regarding the change. Instead, notice will be sent to the address you supplied as part of those queries.
Manually replace instances of the previous email address
Most WordPress websites – especially those that have seen heavy use – will store admin email addresses in other areas of the website. While other instances of the old email addresses will not grant administrative access, it’s good practice to swap them out anyway.
For instance, the popular Contact Form 7 plugin retains recipient email addresses in the Mail tab of its forms. Check settings for each of your site’s plugins to ensure that all instances of the old address have been replaced.
Are these changes safe?
It is completely safe to change your WordPress admin email from the database if you’re trying to skip the confirmation process. While this approach is far more technical than the one the WordPress control panel guides you through, it does not require access to the current admin email and the end result is the same.
That being said, it’s always a good idea to back your database up before manually applying changes like these. You can back your WordPress database up from the Export tab of phpMyAdmin and restore it from the Import tab.
Retaining access to your WordPress website
The loss of admin credentials can be scary to those put in charge of a WordPress website. This is especially true for companies and individuals that rely on their website for business leads or sales. In a worst case scenario, an affected site owner could be forced to rebuild from scratch.
Consider the email address you’ve assigned to your WordPress website’s admin account to prevent a similar loss in the future. If an agency or freelancer built your site, ensure that they’ve granted admin rights to your address and not theirs. Likewise, small businesses should assign company-managed email addresses to admin accounts instead of the personal addresses of their employees.