Determine if WordPress AJAX request is a backend of frontend request

AJAX endpoints being natively supported in WordPress is awesome. Not being able to separate a frontend request (coming from a theme/frontend plugin) from a backend request (coming from the admin panel) is not as awesome.

Here’s a function to determine if a request is coming from the frontend or backend. It uses the HTTP referer to determine which URL the incoming call to admin-ajax.php originated from. If it originated from a /wp-admin/ url, we know for sure that it was a backend request.

function request_is_frontend_ajax()
  $script_filename = isset($_SERVER['SCRIPT_FILENAME']) ? $_SERVER['SCRIPT_FILENAME'] : '';

  //Try to figure out if frontend AJAX request... If we are DOING_AJAX; let's look closer
  if((defined('DOING_AJAX') && DOING_AJAX))
          //From wp-includes/functions.php, wp_get_referer() function.
          //Required to fix:
          $ref = '';
          if ( ! empty( $_REQUEST['_wp_http_referer'] ) )
              $ref = wp_unslash( $_REQUEST['_wp_http_referer'] );
          elseif ( ! empty( $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] ) )
              $ref = wp_unslash( $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] );

    //If referer does not contain admin URL and we are using the admin-ajax.php endpoint, this is likely a frontend AJAX request
    if(((strpos($ref, admin_url()) === false) && (basename($script_filename) === 'admin-ajax.php')))
      return true;

      //If no checks triggered, we end up here - not an AJAX request.
      return false;


if(request_is_frontend_ajax()) {
    //Do something only on frontend ajax

3 thoughts on “Determine if WordPress AJAX request is a backend of frontend request

  1. O

    You will fail if hit update post via quick edit after direct opening link with posts list page, because HTTP_REFERER will remain not exist, until further clicking though wp-admin pages.

    1. Stanislav Khromov Post author

      Hi O,

      I can’t reproduce that. Here are the steps:

      * Go to edit.php (post list)
      * Quick edit a post and press update

      I can see that the `admin-ajax.php` request has the referrer `http://…./edit.php`

      If you can present better reproduction steps I’d be happy to look into it further.


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