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How to Add Featured Images or Post Thumbnails in WordPress

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Are you looking for a way to add featured images to your WordPress blog posts?

Featured images, also known as post thumbnails, are a well-known WordPress feature supported by most themes. They are the primary image for your blog posts, and they often appear next to the heading on your home page and social media.

In this article, we will show you how to easily add featured images or post thumbnails in WordPress.

Adding featured images in WordPress

A Beginner’s Guide to Featured Images in WordPress

Featured images are a WordPress theme feature. Almost all WordPress themes come with built-in support for featured images and display them beautifully across different areas of your WordPress website.

Featured images preview on a typical WordPress blog

As humans, we find visual elements more engaging than plain text. Featured images help you make your blog pages look more appealing.

They also help you build user engagement and increase page views. Search engines and social media websites may also use these images and display them in search results and social media news feeds.

Mostly, featured images are used for blog posts, but you can also set featured images for pages and custom post types.

Note: Featured images are not the same as cover images. See the difference between cover image vs featured image in WordPress.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to easily add featured images in WordPress.

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If you prefer written instructions, just keep reading.

Adding Post Thumbnail or Featured Image in WordPress

To add a featured image to a WordPress post, simply edit or create a new blog post.

In the content editor, you will find the featured image tab in the right column.

Set a featured image

You need to click on the ‘Set Featured Image’ area, and this will bring up the WordPress media uploader popup.

From here, you can upload an image from your computer or use an existing image from your media library. Once you select the image, simply click on the ‘Set Featured Image’ button.

Setting a featured image

WordPress will now show a preview of the featured image in the right column.

However, the actual featured image will look different depending on your WordPress theme.

Add featured images in wordpress

You can now save or publish your post or preview it to see how the featured image will appear on your live website.

Depending on the settings defined by your theme developer, your featured image will automatically appear with your posts.

How to Find and Effectively Use Featured Images

The next big question that most beginners come across is where to find images to use as featured images.

You cannot just use Google image search and use any image from the internet. Those images are protected by copyright laws, and using them without proper permission can cause legal trouble.

Luckily, there are several resources available that you can use to find free images for your blog posts.

Our top favorites are:

  • Shutterstock – They have a few free images, but the real value comes from their paid plans, which give you access to tons of high-quality photos, illustrations, drawings, videos, and more.
  • Unsplash – A popular online resource publishing high-resolution images that you can use on your website and other projects.
  • Negative Space – A well-organized collection of copyright-free images.
  • New Old Stock – A collection of vintage photographs from public archives.
Unsplash is a popular free image resource for bloggers

Note: All these sources provide high-resolution images, which means they are large in file size and dimensions. You will need to optimize images for the web before using them as featured images.

Featured images are handled by your WordPress theme. In order to change how your theme displays featured images, you will need some basic CSS or WordPress coding skills.

If you are comfortable with coding, then continue reading for more tips.

Theme Developer’s Guide to Featured Images and Post Thumbnails in WordPress

The featured image is a popular feature supported by almost all WordPress themes. In rare situations, you may come across a theme that does not support featured images, or you may not like how they handle feature images.

In that case, you can add featured image support to your theme or change how it appears.

If you are comfortable editing WordPress theme files and know your way around a little custom CSS, then you can do it yourself.

If your theme does not support featured images, then you will not see the option to add a featured image in the content editor.

To add featured image support in a WordPress theme, you need to add this line of code in your theme’s functions.php file:

add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );

We don’t recommend directly editing the functions.php file on your site if you are not a developer. The slightest mistake can break the website and cause numerous errors.

An easier way of adding custom code is using WPCode. It is the best code snippet plugin for WordPress. You can easily manage all the custom code snippets using the plugin and don’t have to worry about messing up your website.

First, you’ll need to install and activate the WPCode plugin. If you need help, then please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you can go to Code Snippets » + Add Snippet from your WordPress dashboard. From here, simply select the ‘Add Your Custom Code (New Snippet)’ option.

Add new snippet

Next, you can enter your custom code in the ‘Code Preview’ area.

Don’t forget to click the ‘Code Type’ dropdown menu and select ‘PHP Snippet’ as the type.

Enter your custom code

Once you are done, you can scroll down and select the Insertion method for your code.

WPCode will use the ‘Auto Insert’ option by default and run the code everywhere. However, you can change the location and select to run the code at a specific location, like the header, footer, before a paragraph, and more.

There is also a Shortcode method, where you can manually enter a shortcode to run the code.

Auto insert your code

For this tutorial, you can use the default method and auto-insert the code everywhere.

Once you are done, simply click the toggle at the top to activate the snippet and then click the ‘Save Snippet’ button.

This code will enable featured image support for posts and pages. You can now go to the post or page block editor, and you will see the featured image option enabled.

However, when you set a featured image, it will not automatically display in your WordPress theme. To display featured images in your theme, you need to edit your templates and add this line of code where you want to display the featured image:

<?php the_post_thumbnail(); ?>

The files you add the above code in will vary based on your theme. You will want to add the code inside your post loop.

Related: See the WordPress theme hierarchy cheat sheet to better understand how themes work.

Configure the Size of Your Featured Images

The above code is the basic function that you need to add featured image support and display featured images in your theme. To set the image size for featured images you upload, you need to add this line of code to your functions.php file or WPCode snippet.

set_post_thumbnail_size( 50, 50);

The parameters for set_post_thumbnail_size are in this order: width, height.

You can also set additional image sizes to use with the_post_thumbnail() function. For example:

// Image size for single posts
add_image_size( 'single-post-thumbnail', 590, 180 );

In this example, we have added a new image size called single-post-thumbnail with 590px width and 180px height.

To use this image size in our theme, we will still need to add it to the appropriate theme file.

To learn more, please see our guide on adding additional image sizes in WordPress for more details.

If you have previously uploaded featured images, but they are still appearing in some other size, then you need to regenerate thumbnails and image sizes for older posts.

Below is an example of the featured image function with a specific image size.

<?php the_post_thumbnail( 'single-post-thumbnail' ); ?>

This is the broken-down version of the full functionality. There are many other things you can do with featured images.

FAQs About Featured Images in WordPress

As a beginner, you may come across questions or issues when using featured images on your blog. Here are just some of the most frequently asked questions about featured images.

1. Why is the featured image appearing twice in my posts?

Sometimes, beginners add a featured image and then add the same image inside the content part of the post editor.

All you have to do is remove the image from the content area and only use the featured image meta box to add the featured image. For more on this topic, see our article on how to fix the featured image appearing twice in WordPress.

2. What is the difference between the cover image and the featured image?

Cover images are used in the content area of your posts or pages. They are normally used to separate different sections of a lengthy page or post.

The featured image is the representative image of an article. It does appear before or alongside the content but not inside the actual article.

For more on this topic, see our guide on the difference between the cover image and featured image in WordPress.

3. How to display featured images next to recent blog posts?

The WordPress block editor comes with a ‘Latest Posts’ block that allows you to display recent posts with post thumbnails.

You can also display recent posts with thumbnails in sidebar widgets using the Recent Posts Widget Extended plugin. For more details, see our article on how to display recent posts in WordPress.

4. How to remind authors to add featured images in WordPress?

Featured images are prominently displayed on your homepage, blog page, and other archive pages.

If you or another author on your blog forgot to set one and published the post, then it will appear without a featured image. This will look bad and inconsistent, which is not good for user experience.

You can install and activate the PublishPress Checklist plugin, which will show a notification when anyone tries to publish a post without a featured image.

Publish button disabled

For more details, see our article on how to require featured images in WordPress.

5. Why is my featured image not showing in WordPress?

There are a number of reasons why your featured image isn’t displaying on your WordPress site. For example, you may be trying to upload an image file that’s too large. Or, a plugin or theme could be restricting the image from appearing.

To resolve this issue, check out our guide on how to fix featured image not showing in WordPress.

Additional Resources for Optimizing Featured Images

You can also read through our other guides and tutorials on making the most of featured images on your site:

We hope that this article helped you learn how to add featured images or post thumbnails in WordPress. You may also want to check out our beginner’s guide to image SEO and our expert picks for the best social media plugins for WordPress websites.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

128 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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  2. Freddy says

    Hi, I had some problems with the picture once the post has been published.

    The photo looks normal on the page but when I click it to have a better view, the photo got “squeezed” and the dimension just got complicated. Any suggestion to fix this issue? I tried resizing the photo from landscape to square but the same issue still occurred.

    Thank you!

    • WPBeginner Support says

      It sounds like your specific theme has a preferred set image size. If you reach out to your theme’s support they can let you know the dimensions that they use for your images to prevent any resizing issues in the future!

      Admin

  3. Moinuddin Waheed says

    Whenever I use a featured image and one more image at the top of the post, it becomes not so good looking at the front end of the website. the two images looks unnecessary.
    And when we don’t use featured image and use only image for the post on top, it doesn’t look good on blog posts layout.
    Is it possible to make sure that whenever we have such scenario, only the posts image is visible at the blog posts page and featured image appear on blog posts layout?
    Moreover, how can we avoid duplication of images that is built with every image we insert inside the media ,taking unnecessary space?

  4. Mrteesurez says

    For if anyone want to add default featured image to blog post so that newly posted posts will be assigned that default images as thumbnail pending the time to use the actual image intending for the post.

    Hope you have a post on this ??

  5. Mrteesurez says

    Featured images are very important for blog posts, it bring a sense of visual appealing to the site.

    If one set WPcode to add featured image support but not specifying either footer or header and set to run through out entire site, will it not slowing or have any speed effect to the site.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      It should not affect your site’s speed you would need to edit your templates for the featured image to display as well.

      Admin

  6. Patricia says

    The thumbnail pictures are turning up bottom of the page with ‘Related Articles’ — just black boxes. What am i doing wrong or missing? We had them at one point but after the last WordPress upgrade, the pictures turned into black boxes.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You would want to check with the support for the tool that you are using for your related posts, either your theme or a plugin as it sounds like it is not grabbing your featured images correctly.

      Admin

  7. E says

    How can I change the size of my featured image? It always so large on my blog post. I’ve looked to see in Settings>Media to change it as suggested but that does not show up.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      For changing the size of your featured image, you would want to reach out to the support for your specific theme and they should be able to assist.

      Admin

  8. Josh says

    Quick question, is it possible to add featured image support to a theme without WordPress generating extra thumbnail sizes?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Yes, you would use the add_theme_support and the_post_thumbnail only from this article to do that. You may want to set a size for the featured images so they are all the same size.

      Admin

  9. Nwankwo ekene says

    My site is not showing featured image on Google search and when shared to WhatsApp
    What should I do to fix this

  10. R Taylor says

    How can I set the “recent blogs” on the right of screen so they stay in order by date? They keep moving around everytime I open blog. Thanks

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You would want to ensure your theme or a plugin isn’t modifying the order. By default, the recent posts widget would display by date

      Admin

  11. Neshadkhan says

    Hi wpbegginers i am following you from last 2 year please tell me how to add our post title on thumbnail image like a lot of blogs are doing that

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Depending on what you’re looking at, some of those are added using image editors such as GIMP or Photoshop

      Admin

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You would want to reach out to your theme’s support for how to fix display errors.

      Admin

  12. Nate says

    how can I make the the featured image disappear when they click the post? I just want the picture to be featured.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      That would be determined by your theme, if you reach out to your theme’s support they may have a recommended method to remove the featured image in the post itself.

      Admin

  13. Nick Sim says

    great explanation! But I’m having issues adding the mutliple post thumbnails into a custom post type. How do you solve this?

  14. kar says

    Hi, my featured image overrides my main banner image. Everytime I set a featured image for a post, it overrides the main site’s banner image. How do I stop it from happening?

  15. Maj says

    Hi all, actually am using WordPress 4.9.1 to upload home page video from YouTube for our website, but after I uploaded the video and access the website from the laptop I noticed that the poster image that it supposed to be displayed only when access via Phone it’s appearing in the home page for 3 seconds and this causes the first 3 seconds of the uploaded video not to be seen then can watch the video.
    Please I need your help and suggestion to solve this issue. Thank you so much

  16. carlos ballin says

    i need 2 or 3 feature image, i install DFI plugin but does not work. Exist other proccess for todo that ?

  17. Joao Cerca says

    Hi,

    I have a problem with featured image. Everytime I upload a new picture for a profile, the picture does not turn into a thumbnail in the list of profiles. Is it a problem of the theme or the definition of the wordpress?

    Here you can check my problem
    Best Regards,

  18. Emily says

    MOST of the time when I share links to my posts on Facebook, the featured image appears as the thumbnail but sometimes it just doesn’t for no reason. I’m not doing anything fancy (or even differently) from week to week. What’s up?

    • Saransh Sagar says

      hey, it takes some times to load your post,page image or feature image and loading time may vary from different types of social media ! in linkedin it fetch very fast and it fb it takes some time !

  19. Nsereko Eriab says

    hi, i want to put 5 post excerpts on my homepage but i want the most new one (the first post) to have a bigger thumbnail image than the other 4. help, thx

  20. Liz Johnson says

    Hey Thanks for posting this! I’d just left you a question about it. My theme has a featured image option. Plus I found a setting in my general settings for the thumbnail, but it still isn’t showing up when I post on Twitter. Not sure if I need to go to the CSS coding option?!?? Thanks

  21. Amanda says

    Hello. I’ve been trying to find help with my blog, but I can’t seem to find the answers I’m looking for. I am using WordPress’ theme Hemingway, and I can’t figure out how to get the picture that is at the top of my post to show up in my home page next to the post summary. I’ve tried setting a featured image, but it still doesn’t show up on the home page, and when I do that it puts the image in the header when I go to the post. When I was looking at the Hemingway sample on the WordPress site it showed pictures next to posts in the homepage. I don’t understand why I can’t do that on my blog.

  22. Rul says

    i’m using zerif pro theme but now my portfolio featured image is not arranged correctly (2 rows x 4 columns) like how it supposed to be. any idea what causes this issue and how to fix it?

  23. Kim says

    Hi. I have the featured image turned on my blog. It was working just fine until today. With our latest blog post it isn’t displaying correctly on our homepage when viewed from a cell phone. All of the post below it on the homepage show up correctly, but I can’t figure out where I went wrong with this one. It shows with a huge gap in between some of the words. Any suggestions on how to fix this?

  24. Dennis says

    Hi,

    Any suggestions for plugins to generate post-thumbnails // featured images for Facebook videos? Already tried ‘Featured Video Plus’ but that one is not working for Facebook-videos

  25. Asen says

    I want my featured images to appear on my posts and for some reason they don’t appear when I click the particular category in my main menu.

    Let me explain this better- if you visit my site and if you click on “Action Heroes” in the menu tab, the posts appear with the excerpt but there are no images displayed. I want the title of the post to appear with the excerpt, as well as the associated featured image before the reader clicks on “”Continue reading. The same is for the News and Facts section.

    How can I change that and why the image don’t appear?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Asen,

      Most likely your WordPress theme does not display featured images correctly. Try switching to a default WordPress theme like Twenty Seventeen, if it displays your featured images then you can contact your theme developer for support.

      Admin

  26. pawan kumar mandawariya says

    Dear wpbeginner team,

    can you guide me how to display post images on homepage. I am unable to to this. At while, images are showing on the post/ articles, but not showing on the homepage. You can see this problem here

  27. hristiqn says

    Hello , I use WordPress witn Fashionistas theme intsalled, but I understand the featured image is not showing the full image uploaded. I would like to have the full image appear instead of the default theme sizing of the featured image. What settings I should do in the Admin panel ?
    Thanks in advance.
    And really I hope you can help me.

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