How to Organize Your WordPress Media Library Using Folders

The ability to organize the media library using folders is one of the most requested features in WordPress; however, despite the popularity of the idea, the functionality is not built in to WordPress.  Don’t worry though, in this post we’ll discuss how you can use folders to organize your media library.

Why use folders?

So why use folders to organize media?  If you’ve ever worked on a site that has more than a handful of media items, then you already know how difficult it can be to find what you’re looking for.  The WordPress media library has some helpful filtering built in like the ability to filter by keyword but what if you don’t remember what a certain file was named?  Or what if someone else uploaded the media and you don’t know what they named a file you’re looking for?  And what if you want to link to a PDF without sifting through images?

These are all great reasons to organize your media library and folders are an obvious solution for several reasons:

  • Folders are easy to add and rearrange
  • Folders offer a visual hierarchy of things
  • Folders can be expanded and collapsed
  • When organized logically, folders make finding things quick and painless
  • Folders are how we’re accustomed to organizing things on a computer

What about categories?

Another approach to organizing your media library is to use categories and there are a number of plugins available that allow you to do this.  However, categories have some drawbacks when compared to folders:

  • Categories typically can’t be expanded and collapsed so, if you have a lot of categories, you may end up with a really long list that must be scrolled through any time you want to filter by or assign a category
  • Likewise, categories usually can’t be dragged and dropped which makes them harder to organize
  • Categories are less intuitive

So how can I organize my media library using folders?

One of the things that makes WordPress so great is that it can be extended by plugins that add new features.  Plugins can add functionality for things like event calendars, forms, shopping carts, and…you guessed it, media library folders!  For years clients have been asking us how they can organize their media libraries until one day we thought, “Hey! Why don’t we develop an amazing plugin that lets our customer use folders to organize the media library?”  So we developed Wicked Folders, a plugin that does just that.

How Wicked Folders works

Wicked Folders is a plugin that adds folder management to the WordPress media library.  It works by adding a panel to the built-in media library pages where folders can be added, edited, deleted and moved.

The screenshot below shows what the media library page looks like after Wicked Folders Pro has been installed.

The most obvious thing that should stand out of course is that there are folders on the left-hand side.  Clicking on a folder will show all the items in that folder.  The screenshot above is a simple example, but you could have any number of folders nested any way you wanted.  You can also drag and drop folders to rearrange them and, of course, photos and other media can be dragged into folders.  The controls above the folders allow you to add, edit and delete folders as well as expand and collapse all folders at once.  Finally, the little folder icon in the white bar near the top of the page allows the folders panel to be toggled on or off.

Now let’s take a look at how folders look when inserting media into a page.

The screenshot above shows the WordPress media modal that pops up anytime you click the Add Media button.  As with the main media page, you can browse your media by folder and it also has the same controls for adding, editing and deleting folders so that you can organize things without interrupting your workflow.

Using dynamic folders

Have you ever been frustrated sifting through hundreds of media items to find something other than an image (such as a PDF, Word document or something else)?  Well, we have!  That’s why we created a feature that we call dynamic folders.  Dynamic folders are automatically generated on the fly based on the items in your media library.  One of the dynamic folders that Wicked Plugins includes is a file extension folder which allows you to filter your media by file extension.  This can be really useful for finding files of a certain type like PDFs.

There are also dynamic folders for date and author.  Want to see all files uploaded by a certain author?  Simply expand the “All Authors” dynamic folder and click on the author’s name.

Finally, we’ve also included a dynamic folder called “Unassigned Items”.  This dynamic folder is useful for seeing which media items you haven’t yet assigned to a folder.

In conclusion

The ability to organize media library files into folders is a much sought-after feature that isn’t available in WordPress core but that can easily be achieved with Wicked Folders.  Folders offer several advantages over traditional media categorization and features like dynamic folders make it even easier to find files you’re looking for.

How much time could you save by organizing your media library with Wicked Folders?

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