WordPress Media Library Explained for Newbies

Images, videos, and other media files can make a website more user-friendly, breaking up the rows of text with some much-needed color. However, not all WordPress newbies know how to add new media files to their WordPress blog, what the WordPress Media Library is, or how it is related to their website.

If that is the case with you, don’t worry – this article will explain what the WordPress Media Library is, how the media library works, and how to upload and download files from it. We’ll also recommend eight plugins for organizing your media library.

What Is WordPress Media Library?

The WordPress Media Library is a directory that catalogs all media files uploaded to your site in one place.

Access the WordPress Media Library by clicking Media on the WordPress admin dashboard.

The WordPress dashboard with the Media option on the admin sidebar highlighted

Upon accessing the Media Library page, you will see some options to browse files easily.

First, choose how you want to view the media items in your library. Click on the list icon to activate the media library list view.

The list view of the WordPress Media Library

Another option is to view the media files in grid view by clicking on the grid icon.

The grid view of the WordPress Media Library

There is a drop-down menu to filter the media files by media type to the list and grid icons’ right. It shows all media items by default.

The drop-down menu used to filter items in the WordPress Media library by media type

Next to the media item filter, there is another drop-down menu to filter the media files by their upload dates. The default settings show the media items from All dates.

The drop-down menu used to filter items in the WordPress Media library by media upload date

If you know the name of a specific media file you are looking for, simply type the name into the search bar on the screen’s right side.

WordPress Media Library with the search bar highlighted

When using the grid view, the Bulk select button lets you select multiple media files and delete them at once.

WordPress Media Library's Bulk select functionality, with two out of the three media files available selected

WordPress supports the following formats of media types:

  • Audio files, ending .m4a, .mp3, .ogg, and .wav.
  • Images, ending .gif, .ico, .jpeg, .jpg, and .png.
  • Videos, ending .3g2, .3gp, .avi, .m4v, .mov, .mp4, .mpg, .ogv, and .wmv.
  • Word documents, ending .doc and .docx.
  • Excel spreadsheets, ending .xls or .xlsx.
  • Powerpoint presentations, ending .pps, .ppsx, .ppt, and .pptx.
  • Adobe Photoshop documents, ending .psd.
  • PDFs, ending .pdf.

How to Upload Media Files to WordPress?

Let us walk you through several easy methods to upload new media files to your WordPress Media Library.

Upload Media Files via WordPress Admin Dashboard

To upload new media items through your WordPress dashboard, follow these steps:

  1. Click Media on your WordPress admin sidebar menu.
The WordPress dashboard with the Media option on the admin sidebar highlighted
  1. Click the Add New button at the top of the screen.
WordPress Media Library with the Add New button highlighted
  1. Upload your files by dragging and dropping them into the box or click on the Select Files button. Make sure the file size doesn’t exceed the 128 MB limit.
WordPress Media Library's new file upload box

Upload Media Files via WordPress Gutenberg Editor

If you prefer uploading your files through WordPress’s block editor, follow these instructions:

  1. Click Posts on your WordPress admin dashboard navigation bar.
WordPress dashboard with the Posts option on the admin sidebar highlighted
  1. Click the Add New button at the top of the screen.
WordPress Posts page with the Add New button highlighted
  1. Click under the title and click the Plus button that appears to add a new block. You will see the types of blocks to add. To access all types of blocks, click the Browse all button.
WordPress Gutenberg editor with multiple block types presented
  1. Scroll down the block library on the left side of the screen to find the Media section. Choose the type of media you want to upload. For this tutorial, we’ll choose Image.
WordPress Gutenberg editor's block library with the media section shown
  1. After the block appears, click the Upload button to upload your media file.
An Image block on the WordPress Gutenberg editor

Upload Media Files via WordPress Classic Editor

If you are more comfortable using the classic editor to create posts on your WordPress site, you can revert to the classic editor using the official Classic Editor plugin.

Make sure to install and activate the plugin before you follow the guide below:

  1. Follow steps one and two from the previous guide on uploading media files using the Gutenberg editor.
  1. Click the Add Media button located under the title bar.
WordPress classic editor's Add New Post page
  1. Drag and drop the files you want to upload from your computer to the Add media pop-up window or click the Select files button.
WordPress classic editor's Add media popup window

WordPress Image Upload Errors

Uploading files to the WordPress media library doesn’t always go smoothly.

You may run into errors such as the HTTP error when uploading images, the Upload: Failed to Write File to Disk error, or your WordPress Media Library failing to load.

There’s no need to worry, however, as you can solve these problems easily.

  • For the HTTP error, wait for a few minutes before re-uploading your media file.

If the problem is not fixed, your WordPress session may have expired. Log out and log back into WordPress.

  • For Upload: Failed to Write File to Disk error, make sure permissions are correct. The file permissions are adjustable via an FTP client, the control panel provided by your web hosting provider, or SSH.
  • When WordPress Media Library fails to load, usually there is a problem with your plugins or theme. Switch to a default WordPress theme, deactivate all of your plugins, and see if the problem persists. If the WordPress Media Library loads properly afterward, don’t forget to fix the problem with your plugins or theme permanently. Try contacting the plugin or theme developer for more information.

How to Download Media Files From WordPress Media Library?

In WordPress, you can download items from its media library straight from the admin menu.

To download media files from the WordPress media library, follow the steps below:

  1. On your WordPress admin dashboard, click Tools on the navigation menu and select Export from the tools list.
WordPress dashboard's Export page
  1. Select the Media radio button. Next, choose the start and end date to download the media files you uploaded during that specific time frame. Finally, click the Download Export File button.
WordPress export page with the Media button selected

How To Edit Images on WordPress?

WordPress has some useful built-in image-editing tools.

However, keep in mind that these tools are quite limited compared to graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop.

To find the image editor, simply select the file you want on WordPress Media Library. The Attachment details window will pop up. Click the Edit Image button under the media file.

WordPress Media Library's Attachment details pop-up window

The WordPress image editor has several tools.

First, we’ll focus on the three tools found above the image – crop, rotate, and flip.

The Crop cuts images.

To crop the image, click on the Crop button. Adjust the cropping frame to the size you want and click the Crop button once again.

WordPress Media Library's image cropping feature

The Rotate turns images by 90 degrees.

Clicking on the Rotate left button will turn the image to the left, and clicking on the Rotate right button – to the right.

WordPress Media Library's image rotating feature

The Flip reflects images.

Clicking on the Flip vertical button will reflect the image vertically, and clicking on the Flip horizontal button – horizontally.

WordPress Media Library's image flipping feature

Next, let’s look at the sidebar’s image-editing features located on the screen’s right side.

Use the Scale Image tool to change the image dimensions in pixels. Modify either the height or width and the other field will adjust accordingly.

Images can only be scaled down. The result will be better if you scale before cropping, rotating, or flipping.

WordPress Media Library's image scaling feature

The Image Crop feature on the sidebar menu works together with the Crop button to cut out parts of the image precisely.

Click the Crop button, and the cropping frame will appear. Drag the edges of the frame around to make an image selection.

With the cropping frame still activated, fill in the height and width you want for the image in the Selection fields, and the cropping frame will change according to the measurements you wrote in pixels.

You can also adjust the image’s aspect ratio, changing the image’s width to its height. For example, we’ll adjust the following image’s aspect ratio to 1:1, forming a square.

WordPress Media Library's Image Crop sidebar feature, with the options to adjust the aspect ratio and selection in pixels

In the thumbnail settings, you can:

  • Click the All image sizes radio button to apply the changes to all image versions, including the thumbnail.
  • Click on the Thumbnail button to apply changes only to the thumbnail in your WordPress Media Library.
  • Choose the All sizes except thumbnail button to apply the changes to all image versions, except for the thumbnail.
WordPress Media Library's image editor, with the Thumbnail settings' set to apply changes to all sizes except thumbnail

8 Plugins to Organize Your WordPress Media Files

The longer you use your WordPress Media Library, the more media files you will upload. As the number of media items in your library increases, it can get challenging to keep track of all of them.

Unfortunately, the built-in media management tools provided by WordPress Media Library are fairly limited, making for a bad user experience in the long term.

Luckily, installing the appropriate plugins will provide you with various tools to better organize your media files.

We have compiled a list of the best WordPress Media Library management plugins for your consideration.

1. WordPress Media Library Folders

The Media Library Folders Pro plugin page on MaxGalleria's website

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 10,000+
  • Rating: 4.3/5
  • Notable Features: Thumbnail image regeneration, search engine optimization, FTP syncing
  • Price: Freemium

WordPress Media Library Folders is a helpful plugin for creating, organizing, and labeling folders within your media library.

Its features include:

  • Thumbnail image regeneration. This regenerates thumbnails for the purpose of changing the dimensions of their uploaded version.
  • Search engine optimization. When the SEO settings are activated, it automatically adds alt and title attributes to the uploaded image.
  • FTP syncing. It maintains the same folder organization in both your media library and the FTP, avoiding the mess of disorganized items that appear in your library when doing bulk file uploads via FTP.

This plugin is free to use, but its premium version has even more features, such as advanced custom fields, multisite support, and category-based folder organization.

Media Library Folders Pro offers three types of licenses: 1-site for $39/year, 3-sites for $89/year, and Unlimited for $129/year.

[DOWNLOAD]

2. FileBird

The FileBird plugin preview page on the CodeCanyon website

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 80,000+
  • Rating: 4.6/5
  • Notable Features: Smart context menu, media migration from other plugins, multilingual support
  • Price: Freemium

FileBird is one of the most user-friendly plugins for organizing the files in your WordPress Media Library.

Its features include:

  • Smart context menu. It is used to create, rename, or delete folders with a simple right-click.
  • Media migration from other plugins. It imports media structure from other plugins, such as WordPress Media Library Folders and Enhanced Media Library.
  • Multilingual support. It supports several languages, such as English, Italian, and Hebrew.

FileBird is available for free.

Upgrading to the pro version will unlock more features, such as compatibility with numerous site and page builders, as well as the ability to download your folders in the .zip format.

There are two types of premium licenses. Purchase the Regular License for $25 and the Extended License for $99.

[DOWNLOAD]

3. Folders

The Folders plugin page on Premio's website

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 20,000+
  • Rating: 5/5
  • Notable Features: Media replacing, media migration from other plugins, upload progress bar
  • Price: Freemium

Folders is another plugin for managing your media uploads and placing them into folders.

Take a closer look at some of its features:

  • Media replacement. It replaces your old media with the new one automatically throughout the entire website.
  • Media migration from other plugins. It imports media folders from other plugins, such as FileBird and Real Media Library.
  • Upload progress bar. It keeps track of the file uploading process.

You can use Folders for free, but its pro version has more features, such as unlimited subfolders and folder appearance customization.

There are three premium plans: Basic at $25/year, Plus $59/year, and Agency at $99/year.

[DOWNLOAD]

4. Organize Media Library by Folders

Organize Media Library by Folders plugin banner

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 2,000+
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Notable Features: Folder, URL, and map creation
  • Price: Free

Organize Media Library by Folders is a straightforward WordPress plugin that helps you manage your media.

Its features include:

  • Folder creation. It creates folders and organizes items in them.
  • URL creation. It creates new URLs for your folders to use in your content – a handy feature for a blog.
  • Map creation. It makes maps for different types of media files for easy navigation.

The plugin is available for free. There is no premium version available.

[DOWNLOAD]

5. Media Library Categories

Media Library Categories Premium plugin banner on the CodeCanyon website

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 30,000+
  • Rating: 4.3/5
  • Notable Features: Bulk action, taxonomy filter, gallery shortcode
  • Price: Freemium

Media Library Categories is a plugin that enables categories to organize items in the WordPress Media Library.

Here are the details regarding this plugin’s features:

  • Bulk action. Use it to add, modify, or delete the categories of several media items simultaneously.
  • Taxonomy filter. It filters media files in your library using custom taxonomy.
  • Gallery shortcode. Using a shortcode, display images of a certain category in a gallery format.

The Media Library Categories plugin is free to use.

Using its premium version, users can filter media items based on categories when uploading them to posts or pages.

There are two types of pro version licenses: Regular License for $25 and Extended License for $80.

[DOWNLOAD]

6. Real Media Library

Real Media Library plugin banner

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 30,000+
  • Rating: 4.7/5
  • Notable Features: Multilingual support, image ordering, direct-to-folder upload, folder-to-gallery creation
  • Price: Freemium

Real Media Library is a WordPress plugin that manages large amounts of media files and organizes them into folders, galleries, and collections.

Here is some information on this plugin’s features:

  • Multilingual support. This plugin supports an impressive list of languages, from Spanish to Chinese.
  • Image ordering. Use the drag-and-drop feature or the order function to customize how your image files are displayed.
  • Direct-to-folder upload. Choose a specific folder as the destination for you to upload your file to.
  • Folder-to-gallery creation. Using the Gutenberg editor, make a gallery using images found in one gallery folder.

The plugin is available for free.

The premium version comes with a Real Physical Media plugin used to reflect the media library folder structure into the file system.

There are two premium licenses available for purchase: Regular License for $39 and Extended License for $195.

[DOWNLOAD]

7. Media Library Assistant

Media Library Assistant plugin banner

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 70,000+
  • Rating: 4.8/5
  • Notable Features: Extensive gallery customization, most used term display, hierarchical taxonomy term display, enhanced search box
  • Price: Free

Media Library Assistant is a plugin that provides useful media library management tools through the use of shortcodes.

Let’s explore some of its defining features:

  • Extensive gallery customization. The [mla_gallery]shortcode supports custom taxonomies and all media types – not just images. Also, users can control each gallery’s style, markup, and content.
  • Most used term display. Display the most frequently used taxonomy terms in your media library using the [mla_tag_cloud]shortcode.
  • Hierarchical taxonomy term display. Using the [mla_term_list]shortcode, show the hierarchy of the taxonomy terms you use in the form of a list, drop-down menu, or a checklist.
  • Enhanced search box. This feature enhances the native search box, enabling you to look up the slug, alt text, and caption fields of images and other media items.

Users can use this plugin for free. There is no paid version available.

[DOWNLOAD]

8. Media Library Organizer

The Media Library Organizer plugin page on wpmedialibrary's website

Plugin Stats:

  • Downloads: 4,000+
  • Rating: 4.4/5
  • Notable Features: Unlimited taxonomy, taxonomy filter, tree view, native UI
  • Price: Freemium

Media Library Organizer is one of the plugins that add categories to WordPress Media Library items.

Here is more information about its features:

  • Unlimited taxonomy. Organize your media files with as many categories and subcategories as you want.
  • Taxonomy filter. Filter your media files by category.
  • Tree view. It adds a sidebar to your media library, making it comfortable to add media files to a certain category in the bulk. Use it to add, edit, and delete categories quickly.
  • Native UI. It maintains WordPress’s original user interface, only altering the features for file organization, searching and filtering items.

The WordPress Media Library Organizer plugin is free to use.

Media Library Organizer Pro adds more useful features, such as automatic image categorization, default image attribution, and the ability to zip and unzip files.

There are four premium plans available: Single at $39/year, Unlimited at $89/year, Lifetime at $199, and Agency at $399.

The first two are billed annually, while the latter two are one-time purchases.

[DOWNLOAD]

Conclusion

The WordPress Media Library is a directory listing all the media files you uploaded to your site.

There are multiple ways to upload files to the media library: uploading via the WordPress admin dashboard, the Gutenberg editor, and the Classic editor.

Users can download items from the media library using WordPress’s native export tool.

The WordPress Media Library has tools for editing images, such as cropping, rotating, flipping, image scaling, and cropping images using pixel selection and aspect ratio.

WordPress Media Library’s organization tools are quite limited, but you can fix it using previously discussed media library plugins:

  1. WordPress Media Library Folders
  2. FileBird
  3. Folders
  4. Organize Media Library by Folders
  5. Media Library Categories
  6. Real Media Library
  7. Media Library Assistant
  8. Media Library Organizer

We hope this article will help you to organize your WordPress Media Library and improve your site.

Author
The author

Tashia Tamara

Tashia is a Digital Content Writer at Hostinger. She is passionate about website development and digital marketing and strives to support people in their eCommerce journeys by spreading her IT knowledge. During her free time, she likes to travel to other worlds through movies and works of literature.