What Naming Convention Do You Use For WordPress Media?

After six years of serving cold beverages at the Tavern and publishing more than 2,100 posts, our media library has over 2,770 images. Over the years, the meta information I give images has changed from very little to as descriptive as possible. For example, we use a theme that utilizes featured images. When I upload a featured image, I’ll give it a title that’s descriptive to the post it will be attached to.

In this example, the title of the image is Market Share Pie Featured Image since the post it would be attached to talks about the market share of GravityForms and would be the featured image for the post. For the Alt Text, I described the image as, GravityForms Market Share Pie Featured Image. The ALT text is usually just the image title with spaces in between.


When I need to reuse a featured image, all I have to do is search for Featured Image in the media library. The search results are made up of all of the previous featured images I’ve uploaded. Since we don’t have too many to wade through, finding the one I want doesn’t take long.

Empowered To Improve Media Library Search Results

The WordPress media library is an archive of content. The larger it gets, the more difficult it can be to find things. Personally, I think being as descriptive as possible with each field with the exception of the caption is the easiest way to improve the media library search engine results. If I fail to be descriptive with images and provide ample meta information, then whose fault is it when the media library can’t find what I’m looking for?

This is one of those areas of WordPress where I believe users are empowered. They have the choice of either providing as much or as little information as possible. I think the less information provided over time could prove to be detrimental to the media library search functionality. I’d love to hear from those with experience in this area, especially from site owners who have thousands of items within their media library.

What naming convention you use to manage your WordPress media library? Do you use any plugins to aid in media management? I don’t think my convention is the best, but it works for me.


11 responses to “What Naming Convention Do You Use For WordPress Media?”

  1. Most people I’ve seen are completely haphazard about file naming conventions in part because there’s no obvious good way to do it unless the user has tons of prior experience, and then it’s (almost?) too late… WordPress should provide users more guidance here in the form of renaming files based on a set of rules that can be configured by the users and also by developers.

    So I’d really like to see WordPress provide rules and add some workflow primitives that allow plugins to drive file renaming on upload based on attributes users could specify, such as the role of the file (headshot, site hero, featured image, etc.), main subject (“cake”, “handrail”, “sky”, “guitarist”, etc.) and some things users don’t control like named sizes (small, medium, large, tiny, huge, etc.)

    Yes this can be done with a plugin but it requires hacking core so much that the code is fragile and very likely to break on the next major upgrade (I know, I’ve written said code!) This level of control should be implemented by core and then allowed to be extended by plugins and themes.

    Minimally I’d like to see WordPress strip files sizes from uploaded files so you don’t get filenames like “myphoto-1024×640-300×200.jpg”; it should just be “myphoto-300×200.jpg”

  2. Yes I agree this needs to be improved I always name images to do with content in the post. If you manage a site with events it is also good to name images with dates on them so that you can search a month or year. Also if you like to clear images that you won’t reuse due to them having dates on them writing something like “dated” also helps so you can mass clear every now and then easily.

  3. I don’t disagree with the points you make, but I just wanted to point out that the purpose of the ALT tag is for accessibility. It should describe the actual content of the image so that your visitors who are using screen readers will know what the image is when the ALT text is read aloud to them. Here’s a page on W3.org about why accessibility is important: http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php

  4. Naming Convention? Honestly, the only thing I seem to still care about is that there aren’t any spaces in my file names. It makes me twitch inside when I see %20.

  5. There is a plugin to rename media files – it manages all occurence of the name in database – and a very convenient other plugin that find the media files when you search for post title ! It can save you a lot of time.http://wordpress.org/plugins/media-library-search/
    Some plugins rename automatically uploaded files – with post slug, date and so on.

  6. Naming conventions are one thing but the big issue here with large media libraries is the way WP manages folders. Month- and year-based folders was OK as long blogs were concerned. As WP is, by far, not only for blogs anymore this structure doesn’t make sense any longer and custom folder/subfolder naming should be possible in order to allow appropriate distribution of media content.

    • This is a really good point, Jerome. And it was discussed over years and nothing has been done. WordPress has become real CMS and is not only blog paltform so it should handle large galleries properly by default. It is essential to give user flexible possibility to create own folder-based structure for media library which is tracked by database (Now only year/month structure is available).

      What is more, I have not found any (!) reliable plugin which could fix this problem. Funny thing, all wordpress sites are easy recognizeable by image paths like: ‘wptavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/example-photo.jpg’.

  7. i wish i could enforce such a policy I’m lucky if i can get everyone to use full sized images and not upload bmps.


  8. I totally agree with Jerome about the current folder-naming convention. Months and years are no longer sustainable, but I’m not sure about folder-subfolder approach. What about adding the ability to tag media so that way they get categorized?

  9. I name mine for SEO, that is, the main keywords. I copy and paste the image title into the alt text… works great


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