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Had I known years ago, I would have chosen meaningful permalinks for my blog. There is an option in Wordpress to change them all but I would like to keep the old links as they are since they are referenced in thousands of pages.

How can I change the WordPress permalink structure only for future posts only?

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It would be much better for you to figure out how to get the old permalinks to redirect properly to the new structure. Is that not possible? This sounds convenient, but unless you absolutely have to do it is kind of a horrible idea. –  Su' Oct 4 '11 at 21:01
    
Perhaps a Wordpress plugin exists to do this on my side but there is nothing to do about 99.99% of external links being written in the old form. I'd rather not change the past (and I've done it for non-Wordpress sites before, it isn't fun!) –  Itai Oct 4 '11 at 21:12
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Oh yeah been there done that.

1)make a list of the old urls

2)update the page URLS

3)download "simple 301 redirects plugin" http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/simple-301-redirects/

4)insert old to new links

wolla finished! This is by far the most simple way

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Is there an easy way to do step 1? There are tons of posts but I noticed not all the numbers are used. Like ?p=1038 and ?p=1040 are posts but ?p=1039 may not be. –  Itai Oct 5 '11 at 17:55
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There's a couple of possible solutions in this blog post, though see my comment above.

I haven't used the Migration plugin myself, and it's pretty old, but I'd have to assume it functions if someone's still recommending it.

The Redirection plugin I have used, and it's pretty convenient as it lets you set up redirect patterns(obviously), but also logs failures so that you can make adjustments, set up special one-off cases and so on.

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I agree that the Redirection plugin (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/redirection) is very handy for the situation that you're describing. One of the use cases is adding 301 redirect messages when changing your link structure. –  rlsaj Oct 5 '11 at 0:04
    
+1 for the Redirection plugin. Excellent in this situation. –  Ciaran Oct 5 '11 at 9:27
    
OK, I've installed this but the configuration page is not helpful. There is no regular expression that can relate post IDs (previous scheme) to post-permalinks (new scheme). So how is it possible to do this? –  Itai Oct 5 '11 at 13:30
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