How to Bulk Upload Files to the WordPress Media Library Using FTP

How to Bulk Upload Files to the WordPress Media Library Using FTP

Copying multiple files to the WordPress media library is easy enough. However, copying hundreds to your website is another story.

Unfortunately, you can’t just simply copy files into the Uploads folders in your WordPress directory. While the files will appear in your folder, they will not appear in your media library. WordPress does not recognize files that are not uploaded via the dashboard uploader, unless they’re registered in WordPress.

In other words, you can upload files to your server via FTP, but in order to access those media files via the Media Library and use them inside your WordPress dashboard, a few additional steps need to be performed for WordPress to recognize those files.

In today’s Weekend WordPress Project, I’ll show you a straightforward way to transfer media to your site via FTP.

Essentially, the steps are as follows:

Connect To Your Site Via FTP
Upload Files To Your Content Uploads Folder
Import Files Into WordPress Using A Plugin

Let’s go through these steps now.

Connect To Your Site Via FTP

In order to connect to your site via FTP, you will need the following:

  • FTP Username & Password – ask your webhost’s support team or consult your hosting account documentation for your ftp login details if you don’t have this information.
  • FTP Client (e.g. Filezilla) – use a free FTP program like Filezilla.

Launch the FTP program and enter the following information:

  • Host – Usually something like ftp.yourdomain.com
  • Username – Enter username supplied by your host.
  • Password – Enter the password supplied by your host.
  • Port – Leave this empty unless instructed otherwise by your host.
Screenshot of FTP client login details.
Enter your FTP login details.

After entering your login details, click the button to connect to your server. If your connection is successful, you should see a screen like the one shown below:

Screenshot of FTP successful connection.
FTP connected successfully to your server.

Upload Files To Your Content Uploads Folder

After successfully connecting to your site via the FTP program, the next step is to transfer the files from your computer to the wp-content > uploads folder inside the WordPress installation on your server.

Screenshot of FTP client with wp-content uploads folder selected.
The wp-content > uploads folder inside the WordPress installation on your server

If you need help with this step, see this tutorial on how to use FTP to manage files on WordPress.

Import Files Into WordPress Using A Plugin

Uploading with Add From Server

Feature image
Bulk upload images with the Add From Server plugin.

Uploading with Add From Server

The Add From Server plugin offers a simple solution to bulk uploading media to your site. The plugin lets you import media and files into the WordPress Uploads folder from any location on your server.

To use the plugin, install and activate it. Then go to either the Plugins interface and click on Add From Server > Import Files or in the admin sidebar go to Media > Add From Server.

The plugin will display folders in your WordPress directory. Choose the location of your files and check each of the files you want to upload to your media library. If you want to select all files, check the box next to “File” at the top.

Add From Server plugin
Select the server folder where your media is located and check the files you want in your media library.

While testing this plugin, I uploaded 500 images from my desktop to the Uploads folder in my WordPress site. Next, I opened Add From Server and selected “Uploads Folder.” Then I selected all files and at the bottom of the page I clicked “Import.”

It took a little while for the plugin to do its thing (I had 500 files, after all), but sure enough the files all appeared in my media library.

The plugin was last updated in May 2013, but still works fine and I had no problems using it with WordPress 3.9.1. Even with thorough testing and hundreds of files I didn’t receive any errors.

One Final Tip …

After bulk uploading your media files, don’t forget to optimize your images.  If you haven’t compressed your images before uploading using a tool like Adobe Photoshop or other image editors, just save yourself the hassle and use an image optimization plugin like Smush or Smush Pro. Both will get the job done and compress your images using our lightning fast servers.

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Martin Aranovitch
Martin Aranovitch Martin believes that we can all live sustainably in a WordPress-centric digital universe and spends most of his time taking copious notes and creating epic tutorials to prove his theory. Before joining WPMU DEV, Martin authored many WordPress guides and courses for beginners.
Have you tried this method to import a large number of media files into WordPress? How did you go? Please share your thoughts and comments below.