Remove footer links from free WordPress themes

Very often, when you use free WordPress themes there will be unwanted links in the footer area. Those links might not be malicious in any way, but definitely will be irrelevant to what your web site is about. Then this means you will have spoiled SEO, which nobody wants. I mean, why would you want to build a web site if your SEO is on a low level?!

You will find a way to get rid of those links if you care about your website’s reputation. There are two options: forget about those “free” themes and look elsewhere (themes from are best choice, but may be not so unique), or just remove the links. The guys who make those themes actually offer you removal in an exchange of small fee or a “donation”.  Yet, the themes are free and licensed under Creative Commons, which means that you can modify them in any way, as long as you leave them under the same license. Now I’m going to show you a good way to modify them.

Why those guys put the links there? The links are sponsors of the theme developers. The end victim is the simple user, who cannot remove the links, or doesn’t want to pay for it.

How to remove the encrypted links? There are few different ways of putting links in the footer.php of a WordPress theme, and according to this – few solutions.

If your footer.php looks like the image to the left: You can go to your index.php file of the downloaded theme. Find where it says <?php get_footer(); ?>. Add two html comments with whatever content you like, one before <?php get_footer(); ?> and one  after. Here is an example of comments <!–Footer starts here — >, and <!—Footer ends here –>. But really, you can write whatever you want in those comments. Save index.php. Open up your site and view the source code. If you are using FireFox, just press Ctrl+U . Find the comments you just added and copy all the content in between them. Paste the copied content in your footer.php file. Everything should be ok now!

Yet, this method has a downside. There is WordPress code in the footer which reflects some of the information you write in Settings – > General. Your site name and description might be included in the footer. If you change it from the Settings panel later, it won’t be updated in the footer. You will have to do it manually, OR use other method for removing encrypted links from your footer.

This other method includes visiting one of the following websites for decrypting code:

You just need to paste the encrypted text in one of those links. If the decoded text seems reasonable – paste it in footer.php. If none of those encoders helps – try asking in some WordPress support forum, or simply go for another free theme.

The links are not encrypted, but when I remove them, my web site crushes! This is a more complicated case. I’ve noticed it on the free themes from and The trigger that blocks your web site is in functions.php. To edit this file you need to know a bit of php. Yet, here is what I did to set free one theme.

I installed the theme, but didn’t active it. Then I went to footer.php – removed all links except for one, which I changed to my homepage url (if I don’t keep at least one link, the web site is getting blocked again). Save footer.php and open functions.php. There if you use the search functionality, it should be easy to find the only place where those same links from the footer are mentioned again. Find that piece of code and change the links the same way you changed them in footer.php. Save functions.php. Now you are free to activate your theme.

I was trying a lot of tricks to unblock that one beautiful theme, but what I just described was the only workaround. Deleting functions called like theme_usage_message(), check_theme_footer() or variables like $theme_license_false didn’t help at all. The key seems to be in editing the theme before activating and leaving at least 1 link (which you can change to whatever you like). I’m sure that somebody with better knowledge of php might have shared a better solution online – keep searching, keep learning!

UpdateRemove footer links from SMThemes

Update: remove links from

You need to edit two files – functions.php and lib/themater.php.

Scroll to the last function in the functions file. It should look something like this:

function wp_initialize_the_theme_load() { if (!function_exists("wp_initialize_the_theme")) { wp_initialize_the_theme_message(); die; } } function wp_initialize_the_theme_finish() { $uri = strtolower($_SERVER["REQUEST_URI"]); if(is_admin() || substr_count($uri, "wp-admin") &gt; 0 || substr_count($uri, "wp-login") &gt; 0 ) { /* */ } else { $l = 'Designed by: SA Dating | Thanks to Iron Worker Jobs, Dog Trainers and Florida Personals'; $f = dirname(__file__) . "/footer.php";
 $fd = fopen($f, "r"); $c = fread($fd, filesize($f)); $lp = preg_quote($l, "/"); fclose($fd); if ( strpos($c, $l) == 0 || preg_match("/&lt;\!--(.*" . $lp . ".*)--&gt;/si", $c) || preg_match("/&lt;\? php([^\?]+[^&gt;]+" . $lp . ".*)\?&gt;/si", $c) ) { wp_initialize_the_theme_message(); die; } } } wp_initialize_the_theme_finish();

Replace it with:

function wp_initialize_the_theme_load() { if (!function_exists("wp_initialize_the_theme")) {wp_initialize_the_theme_message(); die; } } function wp_initialize_the_theme_finish() { $uri =  strtolower($_SERVER["REQUEST_URI"]); if(is_admin() || substr_count($uri, "wp-admin") &gt; 0 || substr_count($uri, "wp-login") &gt; 0 ) { /* */ } else { /* */ } } wp_initialize_the_theme_finish();

In themater.php change:

if (!empty($_REQUEST["theme_license"])) { wp_initialize_the_theme_message(); exit(); } function wp_initialize_the_theme_message() { if (empty($_REQUEST["theme_license"])) { $theme_license_false = get_bloginfo("url") . "/index.php?theme_license=true"; echo "&lt;meta http-equiv="\&amp;quot;refresh\&amp;quot;" content="\&amp;quot;0;url=$theme_license_false\&amp;quot;" /&gt;"; exit(); } else { echo ("&lt;p style="0padding: 20px;"&gt;All the links in the footer should remain intact. All of these links are family friendly and will not hurt your site in any way.&lt;/p&gt;"); } }


if(!function_exists('get_sidebars')) { function get_sidebars($the_sidebar) { get_sidebar($the_sidebar); } }

Remove footer links from SMThemes
!10.05.2015 – Update: I’m not going to take anymore requests for cleaning footer links. If you can’t do it from the first time, re-read the post and try again. In any case – try to avoid free themes from SMThemes or any other place that’s not and seems suspicious. You expose your web sites and clients to security risks as you don’t know what other code might be present in those themes. Use starts/builder themes and learn how to code, but don’t give WordPress a bad name!


  1. Miranda

    You are my hero!!!! After playing around with a themepix theme for 3 frustrating hours last night and 2 more today, thinking surely as a web designer I have the skills to remove this (as I have every other footer link issue I’ve had before), I was ready to bang my head against the wall. Googled, found your site immediately, and boom- theme fixed! Thank you so much for your awesomeness 🙂

    1. menian

      Read the bold text in the last paragraph. If that doesn’t help, I don’t know what’s wrong. Give me a link to the theme and I’ll try to “unlock” it for you.

  2. Hashan

    hey mate,

    I want to remove the encrypted link appreas on the footer which says “”
    This link appreas few seconds later after loading the site. however would be thankful if you could help me to remove this link from the template.
    You can download the theme by searching on google.. ex: free quasar wordpress theme.


    1. menian

      Hello! I tried again and the results are the same. I don’t find any encryption or safety to prevent removal of the copyright notice. What I did was just deleting lines 51 to 59 from footer.php and that’s it.

  3. dacronius

    Great post!
    At least somebody is fighting what appears to be a clear violation GPL and abuse of user rights by these “free” themes providers. Why name it “free” if its not free.
    Anyways, checkout magpress and About 350+ free themes in magpress but all with evalcodes and what not. Can you post some hack for these footer biters?

  4. dacronius

    By the way, I found a silly method to circumvent the footer links of magpress.
    1. Check out Magloss-v2 on The footer.php is like this

    2. What I do is make a copy of this footer as footer-1.php.

    3. Then remove the details like you mentioned above so that the part is removed.
    The revised footer-1.php should look like this

    4. Open index.php, page.php, single.php and any other templates, where get_footer() is called, in an editor.
    5. Replace get_footer(); by get_footer(1);
    The only thing I hate about this is the original footer and the code is still in the theme.

  5. amigo

    Thanks for interesting.
    Nah, still there and and these lines contain the copyrights too so we should keep. and even though, the line still show up just after like 5 second and it will show up. if it doesn’t just keep clicking on it’s place it will appear.
    i told you, it’s not the regular method. it’s really hard to fix.
    Please take a look at “theme folder/js/quasar.jquery.min.js” at line 139 there is the code we should handle.

    1. dacronius

      The Decoy Method!
      Open your footer.php
      1. go to line 54
      2. Rename ‘footer_copyright’ to ‘footer_copyright1’
      3. Then add this line below it:
      . All Rights Reserved.

      step 3 truncated by this site. Check this link for the tut. It works! It removes the “by” link

      You are right, the quasar.jquery.min.js file loads it within a few seconds. I renamed the .js file to quasar.jquery.min.1.js. Now it is working. Temporary work out till we find out what other use that file has.

  6. amigo

    I really appreciate your time and your work but unfortunately it doesn’t work for me. I followed your steps but after a few second it loads again. (sometimes i have to click on it’s place then it will load)
    i tried to renamed quasar.jquery.min.1.js too, but that will hide all the site content because it contain other codes as you know.
    I think this file “themes/quasartheme/rock-options/elements.php” start from line 343, contain the verification license codes.
    Not sure but maybe, please take a look into it.

  7. draconius

    Looks like the moderator is reposting my comments. My id spelling has changed! lol
    Anyway, I think the .js file is loaded on real server. On local server it is working for me. If you are testing it on a real server, give the link to my mail id or ask the moderator to pass it on, so that i can check in real time. Or try using firebug to see the files loaded and the files that are calling quasar.min.js. Meanwhile I will check this elements.php and come back by 2mrw.

  8. draconius

    The quasar.jquery.min.js file is obfuscated/encrypted. The solution lies in decrypting the code.

    The license does not interfere on a testing server. You can see that on the license page in the theme options.

  9. djatie

    Not working.

    I have upload on real server, and pc were i install xampp (pc have internet connection), the copyright still showing.
    i try to save some page onto html, then i remove curvy-slider-frontend.js, curvy error but copyright not shown.
    So i try to rename my curvy-slider-frontend.js on real server and xampp, hahahahaha the copyright quasar by rocketheme still showing.
    Its so hard to fix, now i trace one by one the script.
    Sory about my engglish.

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