Make life easier by organizing your media library

Content management system — sounds like the epitome of organization, doesn’t it?

Done right, it can be. But as anyone who’s ever tried to run one can you tell you, a squeaky-clean, clutter-free back end can quickly deteriorate into a mess of duplicate files and frustration.

For all the things we love about WordPress’s media library (drag and drop tools, super-quick load times, a built-in image editor), it offers surprisingly limited functionality when it comes to organization. WordPress 4.0 improved things by implementing a grid layout, but if you ask us, it could be doing a lot more to reduce the chaos of the average media library.

Here are some our our suggestions for achieving a beautifully streamlined, meticulously organized, and satisfyingly easy-to-navigate media library — the kind even KonMari could love.

Eliminate duplicates

You don’t need six identical black sweaters in your closet, and you don’t need a gazillion copies of the same photo clogging up your media library. One simple way of removing duplicates is to search for media with identical file sizes — a task easily completed with the Media File Sizes plugin.

To cut down on bloat, we suggest adjusting your media settings to make sure WordPress isn’t creating multiple sizes of every uploaded image. Unless you’re displaying thumbnails that link to larger versions, these extra files only complicate things. Here’s a quick tutorial on rejigging your media settings.

Downsize gigantic files

Any responsible site admin knows that resizing images is the right thing to do — it’s kind to the server and speeds up your site. But manual compression takes time, and sometimes you just don’t want to deal with scaling that 3MB image into something more manageable (and less imposing).

Enter Imsanity, the running mate of bleeding edge photographers everywhere. Like WP Smush and EWWW Image Optimizer, Imsanity automatically downsizes images to a more “sane” size. Use your Media File Sizes plugin to locate any old oversized snaps, and then shrink them to a size your site actually displays (generally, no more than 800px wide).

Take advantage of alternatives

Your media library isn’t your only source for images, and unless your site is a personal portfolio, it’s likely that much of your material already comes from external sources. Instead of searching out, downloading, uploading, and captioning external content (in other words, a real time-suck), use ImageInject to select from thousands of free creative commons images, complete with attribution links.

Improve your search

Chances are, once you’ve cut the fat, you’re still going to have hundreds of images in your library. And lacking a photographic memory for file names, or the patience to manually trawl through your entire library, you’re going to have to install yet another plugin to find your files.

Enhanced media library is exactly what it claims to be — a better way of managing your WordPress media library. It basically extends WordPress’s post taxonomies to images, meaning you can create custom folders (and folders within folders) for optimal organization. If you have more than a dozen files in your media library, you need this plugin and you needed it yesterday.

PSA: As of Sept. 29, 2017, you can no longer purchase themes from this website. We will continue to provide limited support, including bug fixes and security updates, until March 31, 2018. Thank you for everything. We'll miss you dearly.