How to work with the media library in WordPress

The media library is where all of your images, videos, and other files are stored on your website. Although media is automatically entered into the media library when you add it to a page or post, you can also access the media library and add media, perform edits, and other maintenance tasks.

Editing the media library

You can find a link to the media library underneath the Posts menu. The media library is exactly what it sounds like – the library of all media items that have been uploaded to your website. In the media library, you can add new items, add meta information to media items, and more.


Most media in your website will be automatically added when you insert it in a post or page. However, there are some instances when you might want to access the media library directly, for instance, if you want to upload a PDF for download on your site.

How to optimise images before upload

It’s always a good idea to optimise your images before you upload them to WordPress. That way, you aren’t taking up space on your server, and both WordPress and your website visitors aren’t working too hard to load your website.

If you have design software like Photoshop, you can first of all resize the image (generally to no more than 1000px wide, unless your site has extra-large images). Then, use the “Save for Web & Devices” menu option to save the image in the smallest possible size. Save as a JPG format, unless the image is a graphic that needs a transparent background. In this case, use PNG.

If you don’t have Photoshop, you can download open-source software called Gimp, or use an online tool such as Shrink O’Matic, or even a WordPress plugin such as WP

How to add an item to the media library

Once you have optimised your image, you can upload it to the media library. As I said above, most of the time you will be inserting the image in a post, in which case it will automatically be added to the media library. However, if you want to bulk-upload images for use on your website, or if you have another image to upload to the library, here are the steps:

  1. In your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Media>Add New.
  2. Either drag-and-drop your image/s into the box, or click the “Select Files” button to locate the file/s on your computer.
  3. The file/s will automatically upload.
  4. Once finished, you will be able to add in meta information, such as a Title, Caption, and Description.

How to edit an item in the media library

Sometimes, you may wish to edit the meta information of an image, or even crop, flip, or rotate it.


Here are the steps to do this:

  1. In your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Media>Library
  2. Hover over the item you want to edit, and click the “edit” link.
  3. Enter in meta information, or click the “Edit Image” button to perform basic image edits.
  4. Click “Update Media.”

How to upload a PDF for visitors to download

I often get asked the question: “How can I have a PDF on my website for visitors to download?” Perhaps you have a free eBook or report, a form, or another type of PDF document that you wish visitors to be able to download.

This is a straightforward procedure, but requires a few steps:

  1. In your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Media>Add New.
  2. Either drag-and-drop your PDF to the box, or click the “Choose” button to locate the file on your computer.
  3. Once the PDF is uploaded, you will see a line labelled “File URL.” Highlight this URL and copy it (command-C on Mac, control-C on PC).
  4. Create a new page or post, or edit the page or post you want the PDF to appear.
  5. Type the words you wish to be the link to the PDF (for instance, “Click here to download PDF”).
  6. Highlight these words and click the link button.
  7. In the insert/edit link box, paste in the File URL of the PDF, and write a title for the PDF.
  8. Click “Add Link.”
  9. Your PDF is now able to be accessed by clicking the link!

It’s worth knowing how to manage the media library in WordPress. Hopefully this tutorial has inspired you to take a look at your own!

This article is excerpted from my Udemy course Step-by-Step WordPress: Basics and Beyond. Use this link for a 25% discount!

2 responses to “How to work with the media library in WordPress”

  1. Hi! Do yoou knw if they make any plugins to safeeguard against hackers?
    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard
    on. Any tips?

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for your comment! I would recommend the plugin “Better WP Security” for setting up various security-related tools on your website. But also remember – there’s no substitute for a good backup! Any security system can be breached. If you have a reliable backup system, you can help to reduce the impact of such a breach.

      Good luck!

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