Organizing your Media Library

Learn how to organize your Media Library and feel in control of your media items.

Learning outcomes

  1. Identify the types of media you can add to your Media Library.
  2. Filter media by type or date.
  3. Search for media by description
  4. Organize media items through the help of a plugin.

Comprehension questions

  1. What are the drawbacks of not managing and organizing your Media Library?
  2. How can you add categories and subcategories to your media items?


Hi, welcome to Learn WordPress. Join me as we explore the Media Library and ways to organise all your media. Media consists of the images, videos, recordings and files that you upload and use on your site. And the Media Library gives you access to all your media and allows you to add, edit, view and delete media you use or wish to use on your site. You can add various types of media to your library, from photos, screenshots, audio, PDF documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and even Adobe Photoshop documents.

When you open your Media Library, it will open to the default grid view. And in the grid view, thumbnails of images, audio icons, etc, are all arranged in a grid structure. And here you are able to filter through your media to find what you are looking for. At the top next to the grid view icon, you can filter your media by media type, and date. The all media items dropdown allows you to select by the types of media, such as images, audio, video, documents, and even spreadsheets. You can also view any media that is unattached to any posts or pages. And this means the media is in your Media Library, but you haven’t used it anywhere on your site. Let’s use the filtering option, for example, to only see audio files or documents like a PDF, or even spreadsheets. And then of course, you can just go back to seeing all media items. Next, the all dates dropdown allows you to select by date which media displayed. You can quickly find media you have uploaded in September for example, or October, or you may choose to view all. To the right is a search box where you can enter a word or series of words to search for specific things in your library. The search results will be updated as you type. But as you can see, nothing showed when I typed in jump. For this function to work effectively, you will need to add a description to your media items. And now when I return and type in jump again, the image will appear. You may also wish to view your media in list view when you click on the icon next to the grid view on the left. In list view, all your media will be listed below each other as the name implies, and you will also be able to see the file name and what type of file it is, for example, a PDF or JPEG.

This leads us to the main reason for this workshop. If you have a lot of media in your library, it might start feeling a bit disorganised or intimidating to manage all your media. You may be asking, isn’t there a way to categorise your media? Well, the answer is yes. We are going to use a plugin to achieve this goal. As a reminder, plugins help you to extend the functionality of your site. And there are 1000s of free plugins to search from and use in the directory. Let’s make our way to plugins and click on add new. I am going to type media plugin organiser the search box and within a second or two we will be able to choose from a variety of options. I will be selecting an open source plugin called Media Library Organizer. Media Library Organizer doesn’t replace the look and feel of the Media Library. Instead, it will enhance the WordPress user interface, adding key features needed for mass organisation as well as searching and filtering of media. There are many other wonderful plugins to choose from in the directory. Three popular plugins worth exploring are number one, WordPress Real Media Library number two Firebird and number three Wicked Folders. Let’s go ahead and install the Media Library Organizer plugin. And always remember to click Activate.

When I return to the Media Library, you will see we now have a new left sidebar called Media Categories. And you have three options to add, edit, and delete. Due to the fact that I haven’t created any categories, I only have the option to add new categories and subcategories. I am going to go ahead and create a new category and name it ‘traveling.’ Then I will click on bulk select and choose the appropriate images. And once I’ve done that, I’m going to drag and drop them to their new category. The second category that I want to create is going to be called ‘nature.’ And once I’ve created the folder, I will once again click on box select and then choose all the relevant images I want to add to this category. And once I finished selecting all the media, I will drag and drop them to their new category called ‘nature.’ The third category I want to create is going to be called ‘lifestyle.’ Now I will click on the category to add subcategories. I will right click on my mouse, select add child and name my subcategories. The first one is going to be called ‘exercise’ and the second subcategory, I’m going to name ‘recipes.’ Once I’ve done that, I will click on bulk select, choose the exercise images and drag and drop them to their new category.

Lastly, I want to create three more subcategories within ‘recipes.’ The first category is going to be called ‘vegetarian’, the second one ‘meat’ and the last one ‘breakfast.’ Once I’ve created the subcategories I will choose bulk select and drag and drop the images to their respective categories. So first breakfast, then my vegetarian options and then a meat dish. And now you will see all the images in their categories. The display of categories we see here is called tree view and is used for easy searching, filtering, and bulk categorization. If you click on unassigned, you will be able to view all the images or files that have not yet been categorised. If you right click on a category and decide to delete it, the images or files will merely return to being unassigned. As you have seen using a Media Manager plugin can help you organise and feel more in control of your site’s media. And this becomes even more true the larger your Media Library gets. Visit Learn WordPress for more workshops and training material.

Workshop Details


Wes Theron

I am an Instructional Designer for the WordPress open-source project sponsored by Automattic. I am a strong supporter of the open-source movement. I have a background in education and content development. I am a husband, father, dreamer and lifelong learner.