The Complete Guide to the WordPress.com Media Library

If you have a WordPress.com website, you’ll almost certainly want to include images, documents, and other media when you’re creating content. But where can you store those files? And how can you keep track of them so that you can always find the right file when you need it?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some type of central repository where you could manage all of your WordPress site’s media?

There is! In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the WordPress.com Media Library and how you can use it to manage your site’s images, video, audio, documents, and more. This includes:

  • What the Media Library is, where you can find it, and what types of files you can store there.
  • How to add files to the Media Library.
  • How to insert files from your Media Library when you’re creating content.
  • How to manage and edit files in your Media Library.

You’ll even learn some advanced tips to get more from the Media Library using free plugins.

Ready to become a Media Library guru? Let’s get started!

What Is the WordPress Media Library?

The WordPress Media Library is pretty much what the name sounds like – it’s the place where you can store and organize all of the media that you upload to your site.

Your media includes files such as images, documents, video, audio, etc. 

The Media Library collects all of those files in one place so that you can easily access them when needed, including when you’re working in the editor and you want to add a piece of media to your content.

How to Access the Media Library

You can access the Media Library from your site’s admin area.

To begin, click on the Media option in the sidebar:

Over the rest of this post, you’ll learn how you can use different features in the Media Library.

What Types of Files Can You Store In the WordPress Media Library?

Here’s a more specific list of the types of files you can store in your Media Library:

  • Images – including JPG, JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
  • PDF documents
  • Other types of documents – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Audio – MP3, M4A, WAV, and OGG.
  • Video – MP4, M4V, MOV, WMV, MPG, AVI, OGV, and some others.

With the free WordPress.com plan, you can upload images and documents. To upload audio and video, you’ll need the WordPress.com Premium plan or higher.

How Much Content Can you Store In the WordPress Media Library?

You can store as many files as you want in your Media Library, up to the overall storage limit on your WordPress.com plan. Those limits are:

  • WordPress.com free plan: 3 GB
  • WordPress.com Personal plan: 6 GB
  • WordPress.com Premium plan: 13 GB
  • WordPress.com Business plan: 200 GB
  • WordPress.com eCommerce plan: 200 GB

How to Add Files to the WordPress Media Library

If you’re just getting started with your WordPress site, your site’s Media Library will be empty. For that reason, the first stop in your journey to understanding the Media Library is learning how you can actually start filling it with media.

There are two ways that you can add files to the Media Library:

  • You can upload them directly to the Media Library.
  • You can upload files while you’re creating content in the editor.

Once you get the hang of things, you’ll probably upload files from the editor more frequently than adding them directly to the Media Library, but let’s start with working directly in the Media Library to cover the basics.

Upload Files From Your Computer

To upload one or more files from your computer, go to your Media Library and then click the Add new button. This will open a prompt to select one or more files from your local computer to upload to your site:

Add Files From a URL

If you want to add a file from another website, you can also add a file by entering the direct URL to the file.

First, you’ll want to find the direct URL to the content that you want to add. For example, if you want to add an image, make sure that the URL ends in an image file extension such as JPG or PNG.

Once you have the URL in hand, click on the down arrow next to the Add new button and select Add via URL. Then, enter the URL in the box and click Upload:

WordPress will then save a copy of the file in your Media Library.

Add Files From Pexels

If you’re looking for images to use in your content, WordPress.com also has an integration with Pexels so that you can search Pexels and add images that you find directly to your Media Library.

If you’re not familiar with Pexels, it’s a place where you can find thousands of free stock photos. 

To search Pexels, click on the image icon in your Media Library and select Pexels free photos.

From there, you can search for photos by keyword. To save one or more images to your Media Library, click on them to select them and then choose Copy to media library:

Connect Your Google Photos Account

If you’re using Google Photos, WordPress.com also includes a feature to let you connect to your Google Photos account so that you can add files directly from Google Photos.

To connect your account, click on the image icon in your Media Library and choose Google Photos. This will open an interface where you can connect to your Google Photos account:

Once you connect to your Google account, you’ll be able to browse all of your photos from your Media Library. You can click on the images that you want to add to your Media Library and then save them to your website by clicking the Copy to media library button.

Upload Files From the Editor

If you want to upload some images or other files to use in a blog post that you’re writing, you can add them directly to the Media Library from the WordPress editor.

To begin, add the block for the type of media that you want to upload. For example, to upload an image, you would add an Image block.

Then, click the Upload button:

Once you upload the file, you’ll see a live preview in the editor and WordPress will automatically store the file in your Media Library.

If you click Select Image, you’ll also have the option to choose an image from Pexels or Google Photos.

How to Use Your Media When Creating Content

Above, you learned how you can upload files to the Media Library when you’re working in the editor. Now, let’s go the other direction and show you how you can insert existing files from your Media Library.

To get started, open the WordPress editor. Then, add a block for the type of content that you want to insert:

  • Image file(s) – for a single image, add an Image block. To insert multiple images, you can also consider one of the gallery blocks.
  • Video file(s) – add a Video block. Note – for videos, you can also consider uploading the video to a third-party video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo and embedding them using the dedicated embed blocks. 
  • Audio file(s) – add an Audio block.
  • Documents/PDF file(s) – add a File block.

For this example, let’s look at embedding an image. However, the same basic principles apply to other types of media files.

Once you’ve added the Image block, you can choose the option to Select Image. Then, choose Media Library from the expanded list of options:

This will open a popup that lets you browse the full Media Library. Select the image file that you want to insert and then click the Insert button:

And that’s it! You should then see the image in the editor.

A quick note – the Media Library popup might look a little bit different if you’re on the WordPress.com Business or eCommerce plans. No worries! You can still just select the file you want to use and click Insert.

How to Manage and Edit Files in the WordPress Media Library

Once you’ve added files to your Media Library, you’ll also get tools to manage them. 

For example, you can use search and filter to find specific files in your Media Library. 

For image files, you’ll also be able to edit the image itself to crop, rotate, and perform other image manipulations.

How to Search and Filter Images

As your site grows, your Media Library will start accumulating a lot of files, which can make it difficult for you to find specific media files in the future.

To help you navigate this, the Media Library lets you filter by media type and also search by keyword. You can access these filters both when working in the full Media Library and when inserting files from the editor.

Here’s what it looks like in the full Media Library:

And here’s what it looks like when you’re working in the editor:

Again – the interface might look a little different if you’re on the WordPress.com Business or eCommerce plans, but the basic idea will be the same.

How to Edit Images From the Media Library

You might also have a situation where you need to make simple edits to an image, such as cropping it or changing its orientation. There’s no need to use separate image editing software for this – WordPress.com lets you do it right from your Media Library.

To edit an image, first click on it in the Media Library to select it. Then, click the Edit option:

You’ll see a popup with a preview of the image. Click the Edit Image button to advance:

Now, you can use the buttons to rotate, crop, or flip the image. If you don’t like how the change looks, you can click to Reset it back to the original.

Once you’re happy with the change, you can click Done to save your edits:

More Advanced Tactics for Working With the WordPress Media Library

To finish things out, let’s get into some more advanced tactics to help you work with the WordPress Media Library.

Both of the tactics in this section require the use of WordPress plugins, so you’ll need to be on the WordPress.com Business or eCommerce plans to implement them.

If you’re not sure how to install a plugin, you can read our guide to installing plugins before jumping into this section.

Bulk Upload Files via SFTP and Import to Media Library

If you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of media files, it might not be convenient to upload all of those files from the web-based Media Library. Instead, you might prefer to use SFTP, which is available on the WordPress.com Business and eCommerce plans.

With SFTP, you can connect directly to your WordPress site using a special piece of software called an FTP client. Once you’ve connected, you can easily upload even thousands of files. You’ll also be able to upload them to a special folder on your server if needed.

If you’re not sure how to connect to your site via SFTP, check out the full guide to SFTP on WordPress.com

Once you’re connected to your server, you’ll want to upload the files somewhere in the wp-content/uploads folder. You can add them to the default year/month folder for media uploads. Or, you can create a special folder just for these files:

However, just because you’ve uploaded the files to your server, that doesn’t automatically mean that those files will show up in your Media Library. To make them show up, you need to “register” them with the WordPress Media Library.

You can accomplish this using the free Add From Server plugin. Once you install and activate the plugin, go to Media → Add From Server in your WP Admin.

Use the interface to find the folder to which you uploaded your files using SFTP. Then, use the checkboxes to either select all files or just a specific set of files.

Once you’ve selected all the files/images that you want to add to your Media Library, click the Import button:

Now, you’ll be able to access those files from your WordPress Media Library just as if you’d uploaded them directly.

Replace Existing Media Library Files Without Changing Their URLs

Once your site has been up and running for some time, you might run into a situation where you need to update one of the existing images or other files on your website.

If you’ve used the image in multiple places, it can be tough to manually replace each instance of the image. To save time, you can use the free Enable Media Replace plugin to replace an existing image without changing its URL.

Because you’re not changing the URL of the image, all the other instances of that image will automatically update and you won’t have any broken images on your site.

To get started, install the free Enable Media Replace plugin. Then, open a post or page where you included the image that you want to update. 

Click on the image and choose Replace. Then, in the drop-down, click Open Media Library:

In the popup, choose the option to Upload a new file:

On the next screen, you can upload the new image that you want to use. Further down the page, you can choose how you want to replace the image:

And that’s it! All of the instances of the image that you replaced will now show the new image that you just uploaded.

Get Started With the WordPress Media Library Today

The WordPress Media Library is where you can store all of your site’s images, documents, video, and audio.

To start adding files to your Media Library, you can upload media directly from your computer. Or, with WordPress.com, you can also add photos from your Google Photos account or free stock photos from Pexels.

From there, you’ll be able to use those files in your content and search/filter your Media Library to find files when needed.

If you’re ready to launch your website and start filling up your Media Library, create your website today!

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The WordPress.com Team

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