Update live WordPress posts and choose when to show revisions

How to create revisions of published posts on a WordPress site, but not have then go live until you want them too. Withhold changes and updates until you want to publish them with these tips.

Sometimes you have a post on your WordPress site that want to change, but you don’t want the changes to go live just yet. For example, you may want to publish on a specific date, such as an announcement, new product or service, and so on. You may need to have updates and changes to a post checked by someone else before it goes live.

There are many reasons not to publish right now and it is easy to withhold a new unpublished post by saving it as a draft, but you cannot do that when updating a published post. You must publish the changes immediately. However, there are ways around this and it can be done manually or by using WordPress plugins.

Manually create revised post updates

Although an update to a published post cannot be saved as a draft, you can save a new post to a draft and we can make use of this.

Save an update:

  1. Edit a post
  2. Copy the code
  3. Create a new post
  4. Paste in the code
  5. Update it, change it
  6. Save it as a draft

Apply an update:

  1. Open the draft
  2. Copy the code
  3. Open the post
  4. Paste in the code
  5. Update the post

The details

Let’s say you want to update a post on your site, but not publish the update straight away. Open the post in the WordPress post editor and click the three dots in the top right corner and select Code Editor on the menu.

Switch to code view in the WordPress post editor

The code making up the post is displayed in the editor. Click in the code and then press Ctrl+A (Cmd+A on Macs) to select it all. Press Ctrl+C (Cmd+C on Macs) to copy it to the clipboard.

Code view in the WordPress post editor

Quit the post editor and do not save any changes if WordPress prompts you to do so. Create a new post and call it Temp or whatever you want. The title does not matter.

Switch to the Code Editor view, click in the empty post and press Ctrl+V (PC) or Cmd+V (Mac). This pastes in the post with all the changes you made.

Code view in the WordPress post editor

Switch back to the Visual Editor using the three dots menu in the top right corner. You now have a copy of the original post as a draft. Make whatever changes to this copy that you want – add new text, new images, delete things you don’t want, completely redesign it, it’s up to you.

Do not publish it! Save the draft. The updated post is now saved as a draft

Save a draft post in the WordPress editor

Make the update live

So now you have the original post, which is unchanged, and the updated version as an unpublished draft with a dummy title. All you need to do to publish the update is to reverse the steps above.

Open the draft post containing the updated page. Switch to code view. Copy the code. Open the original post. Switch to code view. Paste in the code and publish.

That leaves you with a draft containing the updated post, but that is OK, just use it the the next time you want to update a live post.

Use a plugin to update live posts

Revisionize is a WordPress plugin that enables you to create revisions or updated versions of posts, which you can then edit and change as much as you like. When you are ready, the modified version can be published and it then replaces the live post with the new one.

It sounds like it works in a similar way to the manual method described earlier and it makes a clone of the post. When I tried it (Apr 2019) it did not work properly with WordPress 5.x. The plugins page on the WordPress site says it is only compatible with versions up to 4.9.10. However, I know some people still use it.

It could be the block editor that is causing problems and if you use the classic editor instead, this plugin might work for you. I would recommend waiting to see if it is updated.

Revisionary WordPress plugin is bang up to date and compatible with the latest version of WordPress. The idea is that contributors can make changes to live posts and then an editor can check the changes before updating the live post on the site.

You must have another user account on your site and you then set that person’s role to Revisor. The person can then edit posts and instead of an Update or Publish button, there is a Submit Revision button. As an administrator, you can choose to accept the revision and publish it.

One odd thing about it is the way it hides the Document and Block panel on the right, which have document and block properties. A revisor can edit text and delete or add text and images, and that’s it. It is a bit odd and once again, it isn’t quite perfect.