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In this lesson, we’ll go over the Media Library, get familiar with Featured Images, and go over creating a gallery of pictures using WordPress built-in Image Gallery feature.

The term media includes graphic images, video, audio recordings, and other files such as PDFs that can be uploaded and included in a WordPress site. The Media Library screen is where you view, edit and delete media items you have already uploaded. Access the Media Library from the Admin Main Menu by going to Media > Library.

On this screen, your uploaded images and other media items are shown as thumbnails, with the most-recently-uploaded items first. Clicking on a thumbnail opens that image’s Attachment Detail screen.

The Media Library makes it easy to manage images and other items. It’s great for deleting images that were uploaded but then not used, so that the server doesn’t fill up with unneeded files.

Featured Images

WordPress supports something known as Featured Images. Distinct from a typical image you might choose and insert into a Post or Page, a Featured Image is chosen specifically so that it will be displayed in such a way as to represent the Post or Page. For example, in the typical list of blog post excerpts, each excerpt often includes a small squarish image; that’s a Featured Image. Or in a magazine-style site, article teasers often feature a small square or rectangular image; those are Featured Images as well. In some themes a Featured Image can be quite large. Regardless of its size or where it appears in the site’s layout, a Featured Image is always one which has a special role, to accompany and identify (to some extent) that Post or Page. It’s up to the author of a theme to determine where (or if) Featured Images display on a site.

If the active theme supports Featured Images, you’ll see the Featured Image metabox on the Edit Post or Edit Page screen.

If you don’t see it, make sure it is enabled in Screen Options.

To set the Featured Image for a Post or Page, click the link Set Featured Image. This opens the Set Featured Image panel, which looks very similar to the Insert Image panel. Either upload an image, or choose one from your Media Library. Fill in the Attachment Details and click Set Featured Image.

WordPress changed the terminology pretty recently: Featured Images used to be called “Post Thumbnails”. That term doesn’t refer to size at all, but simply means the same thing as Featured Image.

Note that there’s no choosing of sizes when setting a Featured Image; that’s because the size and dimensions have already been determined by the theme. This means that the image will often be cropped to produce the correct dimension ratio.

Image Galleries

An image gallery is, of course, the display of a group of images. There have been WordPress plugins for this purpose for a long time, but as of fairly recently, WordPress includes its own feature for creating simple image galleries. WordPress’ Image Gallery doesn’t have the features and options that some gallery plugins offer, but it’s built-in and works well in many situations. And it’s very easy to use.

WordPress’ Image Gallery uses the same interface you’ve already become familiar with as you upload and insert a single image.

A Gallery can be placed anywhere in a Post or Page — on a blank page, or before, in the middle of, or after other content. Follow these steps:

    1. On the Edit Post or Edit Page screen, place the cursor in the spot where you want the Gallery to appear
    2. Click the Add Media button, and it opens the Insert Media panel.
    3. This time, in the left column, click Create Gallery to open the Create Gallery panel.
    4. Click the Upload tab if you want to upload some images for the Gallery, and proceed as with any image upload. Or click the Media Library tab to select images which have already been uploaded to the Media Library.
    5. Click any uploaded images to select them, shown with a checkmark in the upper left.
    6. You can fill in or edit the Attachment Details for each image by clicking on its thumbnail to reveal its right column. At the bottom of the screen, the images you’ve selected are shown.
  1. When you’re happy with your selection, click Create a new Gallery.
  2. This opens the Edit Gallery panel, where you can make certain settings before you insert the Gallery into the Post or Page.
    • Drag-and-drop the thumbnails into whatever order you like, or use the Reverse order button to do exactly that.
    • Hover over a thumbnail and click the X to remove an image from the Gallery.
      On the right, under Gallery Settings, determine how many columns of thumbnails you want.
    • Decide whether you want clicking on a thumbnail in the Gallery to open an Attachment Page displaying the photo and some information about it, or directly to the image file itself, or to link to nothing (“None”).
    • Edit the Attachment Details for any image by selecting its thumbnail. A Description will appear on the Gallery page under the Gallery thumbnail, whereas a Caption will appear under the enlarged photo itself.
  3. When you’re satisfied with it, click the blue Insert Gallery button. WordPress inserts the Gallery into your Post. As of WordPress 3.9, a preview of the gallery shows right in the Visual Editor.
  4. Save the Post and view or preview it.
  5. Edit the Gallery at any time by opening the Edit Post or Edit Page screen, clicking anywhere in the Gallery, and then clicking the small Edit button in the upper left. This reopens the same Edit Gallery panel you used to create the Gallery, and you can proceed in the same way.

A tip for a more usable Gallery: You may want to reduce the size of the images somewhat before uploading them. If you choose to link to the image file itself, WordPress links to the original, full-size image you uploaded, which most likely is much higher resolution than necessary. Most browsers will re-size the image automatically, but they still have to download the entire high-resolution file, and that can take a few seconds or more even on a fast connection.