There’s a very simple, yet insanely useful plugin that recently showed up in the WordPress plugin repository. Require Featured Image does exactly what it says – it restricts every user from publishing a post unless they have uploaded a featured image.
Some WordPress theme homepage and archives are heavily dependent featured images in order to display correctly. If you’re a person who works in WordPress every day, then you may not ever make the mistake of forgetting a featured image. However, if you build WordPress sites for a client, they may accidentally break the site’s layout and design by omitting a featured image. This plugin prevents this from happening. It forces the user to upload a featured image before it will drop the restriction on the publish button.
As you can see in the image above, the Publish button is not clickable. A warning message also appears at the top of the post edit screen:
This post has no featured image. Please set one. You must set a featured image before publishing your post.
Once you add a featured image and save your draft, the Publish button will once again become available.
The Require Featured Image plugin currently only works with posts and does not work on pages or any custom post type. It would be even more useful if the plugin authors decided to add a settings screen where admins can select the custom post types for which the restriction should be added. Hopefully they will consider adding it in the next version.
I tested the plugin and it works exactly as advertised. Download Require Featured Image for free from the WordPress plugin repository.