How to find and manage existing content on your Drupal Site

One of the first questions people ask me after I show them how to create a page in Drupal is “So where is the page now?”. It’s a simple question but the real answer is a little bit difficult for laymen to grasp at first. You see Drupal doesn’t create new files when it creates a new page, so the page doesn’t exist in a folder on the server where you could go download it as is true with some other content management systems. Drupal stores the information to create the page that you see by storing the necessary information in several places in the database.

You don’t really need to know how the database works to use Drupal and you probably don’t care in the beginning how the page is stored. You just want to know how to find it, edit it, create links to it, or delete it, right? Fortunately this is all pretty easy to do once you know where to go.

If you have the right administration privileges for your site (and you should if this is your site you are working on) then you should have access to the Navigation menu. Under the navigation menu click “Content Management” (or if you have Jquerymenu installed you can click the plus sign to the left of the link to save time) then click the “Content” link.

Using Drupal filters to find your page

Note: There are modules that can alter the content page, but I will go through only the features that should be present on a base installation.

You should be taken to a page called “Content” where you will see a set of radio fields, checkboxes and drop downs that are designed to help you filter your content so that you can find and edit the page you are looking for.

If you just created a page your new page five minutes ago it will likely be at the top of the list of pages in the content page. However, if you created your page two weeks ago it might be buried under a stack of other pages. To find a page you can filter by the following criteria:

  1. status: The status filter has several options: Published, Not Published, Promoted, Not Promoted, Sticky, Not Sticky. To know how to use this filter you need to understand what these options mean.
    • Published/Not Published: refers to whether the page is has been made available to the public. This option is controlled on individual pages with a checkbox under “Publishing options”. Most of the time the pages that you are going to be looking for are probably going to already be published, however sometimes you may have a set of articles that are being worked on that you don’t want everyone to be able to see just yet.
    • Promoted/Not Promoted: Refers to the option of promoting a page to the front of your website. Your site may not have a rotating front page, but often the promote option is used by developers (including yours truly) to allow administrators to single out particular nodes (pages) for a view (page listing). A good example of this is my little logo gallery. Even though this page isn’t on the front of the site I picked which logos would be used for the gallery by setting them to promote to the front page. Promotion is also controlled in the “Publishing options” section of node edit pages.
    • Sticky/Not Sticky: Refers to whether a page is set to hold to the top of a listing of pages even after it is out of date or would have been replaced by another page for reason or another. This can be useful if you want to draw attention to particular pages in listings such as a featured article. Stickiness is also controlled in the “Publishing options” section of node edit pages.
  2. Type: Refers to the content type of the page that you want to limit your search to. You could have any number of content types on your site, but most sites will have page, blog, book, and story content types. If you know that your page was a blog entry you can limit your search to only blogs.
  3. Category: Refers to the taxonomy terms that are associated with the pages you are trying to filter. It makes It easy to find all articles on a particular subject matter, and is yet another reason why you should use taxonomy on your site.

One thing you should know is that Drupal adds these filters one at a time and it keeps track of your filter even after you leave the page. This can be very confusing for new users. I remember the panic I felt on one of my first Drupal sites when I couldn’t figure out why only one type of page was showing for my site. I didn’t realize that Drupal had stored the last filter I had made. You can add one filter after another by selecting status = not published, then category = Drupal Tutorials etc… and they will limit the search more and more. To start over you just have to click the reset button and you will have a clean slate.

Once you have a filter set up that is bringing you the pages you need you have the option of editing them one by one or in mass (for some limited types of edits). The simplest situation is where you want to make a change to the publishing options for a page, such as making the page un-published, published, promoted, sticky, or to delete a page… To mass edit with these option select the checkboxes to the left of the pages that you want to alter, and when you are ready choose the appropriate action from the “Update options” dropdown menu then click “Update”. This is great for deleting 20 pages at a time rather than having to go to each individual page to do it.

If you need to make more specific edits you should click the “edit” link to the right of each page title. You can also click the page title itself which will take you to view the page and there you could click the edit tab, but clicking edit straight from the Content pages saves time, and has the added benefit of bringing you right back to the content page with your same filters in place after you are done editing so that you can move straight to the next page.

The Content Page also list the authors of each page, and you can visit the profile for that user by clicking on their user name. This can be useful if for some reason you have a user causing trouble and you need to delete him or limit his access.