If you’ve ever ran or worked with a WordPress site requiring lots of media files, you’re probably familiar with how easily it can become a mess. When viewing the media library or adding media to a post or page, WordPress can do a few things right out of the box: search your media library by file name, filter by media type and see which media is associated with a certain post. This works fine if you have a few dozen media files—but when your library grows to include hundreds or thousands of files, it can quickly become overwhelming.
After wrestling with this on several large projects at Ervin & Smith, we put together a list of the functionality we would most like integrated in our WordPress sites, and I set out to research all available plugins to find which would best suit our needs. Here’s a roundup of plugins I found to be most helpful for developers and end users.
Enhanced Media Library
The most important items on our list included organizing media in categories and filtering by category, viewing what media is being used on which posts(s) or page(s), and the ability to see all available image sizes when inserting. After testing a half dozen different media management plugins, one emerged as the front-runner: Enhanced Media Library. It works incredibly well for simple media categorization and sorting, giving users the ability to organize media as they choose and more easily find what they’re looking for through searching and filtering features. The UI integrates nicely with WordPress, and it doesn’t bog down the Dashboard with extraneous options pages or settings as some of the other available plugins do.
Advanced geek tip: The plugin provides a settings page for easily managing MIME types. If you’ve ever attempted to upload a CSV or some other nonstandard media format, you’ve likely encountered an error. Specifying allowable MIME types tells WordPress to allow those files to be uploaded.
It’s worth mentioning another plugin that’s not too far behind, Media Library Assistant. In the end, I found this plugin actually has too many features for most users but could be ideal for a power user or when bulk image actions are required. If you find that Enhanced Media Library doesn’t offer what you’re looking for, I recommend checking this one out.
Display All Image Sizes
WordPress auto-generates lots of different image sizes when uploading; however, it doesn’t allow you to choose from those sizes when inserting media into a post. As the name implies, this plugin adds an option to the Insert Media pop-up modal that shows all available sizes of a piece of media.
Enable Media Replace
Replacing an image you’ve already uploaded can be a pain, but this plugin aims to solve this age-old WordPress problem. Instead of deleting, renaming and re-uploading your image—or uploading a new copy with a different filename—you can replace the uploaded file from the media “edit” window. Enable Media Replace will save you both time and server space.
Attachment Pages Redirect
It’s a little-known fact that all media uploaded into WordPress has its own attachment page just like any other post. I say little-known, because unless you go searching for these pages, they may never cross your path—but that doesn’t mean your user won’t accidentally come across them from a web search. A common approach to this problem is redirecting the attachment page to the associated post. You can easily achieve this through your theme, but this plugin makes things a little easier.
This one is aimed more at the developer crowd and has become an indispensible part of my workflow. While developing a theme, it’s not uncommon to change image dimensions as you go, or possibly add new custom image sizes that you now need thumbnails for. With the click of a button, this plugin automatically regenerates thumbnails for all media or select images.
Last on our list is WP Smush, a powerful image optimizer created by the WPMU DEV team. This plugin is capable of bulk compression, up to 50 images at a time, as well as optimizing images as they are uploaded. The free version will process images up to 1MB, which proves sufficient for many of our clients, but a premium version is available to handle larger images, along with lots of other features.
Whether you’re a developer or WordPress novice, these tools can empower you with the ability easily organize, sort, find and optimize items in the media library. Do you have a favorite media plugin we’ve left off this list? Leave a comment below; we would love to hear about it!