How to Organize the WordPress Media Library

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WordPress was developed with immense usability in mind. From humble beginnings, WordPress has grown into a sophisticated CMS solution, while still retaining its user-friendliness. This has made it the CMS of choice for beginners and experienced webmasters alike.

One of WordPress most useful features is the media library. You can simply drag and drop your images, video, and audio files into the media library, and let WordPress take care of the rest. Within seconds, your media files are uploaded and ready to be added to posts and pages.

You can also optimize your media files for SEO from the media library interface, and WordPress comes with a built-in image editor, allowing you to resize, crop, and rotate images with ease.

In other words, there’s a lot to like about the WordPress media library.

That’s not to say there’s no room for improvement, though, particularly when it comes to organization.

For owners of particularly image-heavy websites, it can take a long time to find the image you’re looking for, especially if you’re looking for an image you uploaded a long time ago. The WordPress 4.0 update made significant improvements in this area – it changed the media library from a list of thumbnails to a grid layout – but there is still a long way to go.

If you upload a lot of media files to your website, today’s post should prove particularly useful. Here are five plugins to help you improve the organization of your WordPress media library.

1. Media Library Categories (Free, $15)

Media Library Categories

The more items you have sitting in your media library, the more difficult it is to find what you’re looking for. By default, the WordPress library only lets you search by an item’s name. If you can’t remember the name, you’ll have to go through your list manually — far from ideal.

The Media Library Categories plugin, available for $15 from CodeCanyon, helps you find the media file you’re looking for by assigning a category (or categories) to a file. You can assign these categories in bulk, and you can go back and edit category names as needed.

Once your categories have been configured, you will be able to filter the media library by category. This is a quick way to narrow down your media files, making it far easier to find the right item.

A more limited version of the Media Library Categories plugin is also available for free.

2. Enhanced Media Library (FREE)

Enhanced Media Library

If you want a free alternative to Media Library Categories that provides largely the same functionality, look no further than the Enhanced Media Library plugin.

Enhanced Media Library allows you to assign an unlimited number of taxonomies to your media files, which work exactly like categories. You can configure these taxonomies in a hierarchical structure if you want — a fancy way to say parent categories and sub-categories for your media files. You can add the taxonomy during the upload process, or you can go back and assign them to existing media files.

After assigning the taxonomies, you will then be able to search your media library for a specific taxonomy. This will simplify the process of finding the right media file.

The plugin is free and so the interface is slightly “clunkier” than the premium alternative. However, Enhanced Media Library can do one thing that Media Library Categories can’t: create a new media file type.

By default, WordPress supports images, audio, videos, and an “unattached” media type. Using the Enhanced Media Library plugin, you can create new media types — for example, PDFs — to keep your media library better organized.

3. Media File Sizes (FREE)

Media File Sizes

Adding lots of images to a post or page is the quickest way to add weight, and that can really slow things down.

Of course, sometimes the images you want to include are integral to the piece, so the extra weight is unavoidable. Even so, I would still recommend keeping file sizes to a minimum – a good rule of thumb is less than 100kb per image.

Unfortunately, the default media library doesn’t display the file size of an item. If this is something you need to know, consider adding the Media File Sizes plugin, which is completely free from the WordPress repository. The plugin adds an extra column to the media library — you guessed it, for displaying file size.

If you want to streamline your media library, removing duplicate images is a good place to start. Media File Sizes also lets you sort your media library by file size — searching for media files with an identical file size is probably the easiest way to identify and remove duplicate images to save space.

4. WP Media Folder ($24)

WP Media Folder

If you were looking to organize the documents on your computer, how would you do it? Using folders to store related files would be the place 99% of us would start.

The WP Media Folder plugin, costing just $24 from JoomUnited, lets you add folders to organize your media library. At 10kb in size, the plugin is extremely lightweight, meaning it will have minimal impact on your website’s speed.

WP Media Folder lets you build multi-level folders, and the intuitive drag-and-drop interface means you can move your media files around with minimal fuss. You can also move folders around, and make sensitive folders “classified” which means they cannot be viewed by certain users. A really great way to organize the WordPress media library.

 

Final Thoughts

Although the WordPress media library is relatively easy to use, the area it lets itself down is organization — if you have more than a hundred or so images, it can be a real nuisance to look through the long list of thumbnails to pick out the one you want.

The plugins in today’s post will add the functionality you can use to better organize your media library. These functions are relatively simple — WordPress developers take note! — but if your website uses lots of images, having at least one of these plugins installed will save a lot of time, effort, and frustration.

Do you have any tips for improving the WordPress media library’s organization? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

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Shaun Quarton is a freelance blogger from the UK, with a passion for online entrepreneurship, content marketing, and all things WordPress.

 

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Leave a Comment

7 Comments
    • Matthias
    • April 12, 2016
    Reply

    I have found a very cool plugin which works perfectly http://codecanyon.net/item/wp-real-media-library-media-categories-folders/13155134 . It is a paid plugin but every dollar worth.

  1. Reply
    • Nathan
    • July 1, 2015
    Reply

    Hi, just to let you know that the Media File Manager Advanced plugin has been removed (at least at that URL) from the WordPress repository.

  2. Reply

    Agreed! Great work Shaun!

  3. Reply

    Thanks, Shaun. Just grabbed a copy of Media Library Categories Premium via CodeCanyon. Rebuilding our site, HelloYoga.com, and will be using a huge amount of images over time. I’ve always thought of myself as being quite disciplined in naming files well, but even with that, it’s going to be hard to find certain images, so hopefully this will help. Cheers and keep up the good work.