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How to Do Basic Image Editing in WordPress (Crop, Rotate, Scale, Flip)

Did you know that you can do basic image editing in the WordPress admin area? This includes image cropping, rotating, scaling image sizes, and flipping them vertically or horizontally.

These features come in handy when you are away from your main computer and uploading images on the go. WordPress allows you to quickly resize images without using an image editing software.

In this article, we will show you how to use WordPress as a basic image editor that lets you crop, rotate, scale, and flip images.

How to do basic image editing in WordPress

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Editing Images in WordPress Admin Area

First thing you need to do is upload your image in WordPress. You can upload an image via post editor while writing a post, or by visiting Media » Add New page.

Uploading an image via media uploader in WordPress

Once you have uploaded an image, you need to visit Media » Library page. Now locate the image you just uploaded and click on it.

Select an image to edit in WordPress media library

This will open the image in a popup window. You will see image details in the right column and image preview on the left.

Now there are two ways to open the image with the built-in WordPress image editor.

The first option is to click on the ‘Edit image’ button below the image preview which will open the image editor inside the popup. The second option is to click on the ‘Edit Image Details’ link

Image editing options

Clicking on the edit image details link will close the media popup and take you to the Edit Media page.

Edit media page

From here you can click on the ‘Edit Image’ button below the image preview. This will open the image editing screen.

Edit image screen

You will see a toolbar with some buttons on top of your image. On the right column, you will see a bunch of options to resize the image.

Let’s take a look at what each of these options does and how to use them to edit your image in WordPress.

Image toolbar buttons

1. Crop – It allows you to crop images simply click the button and then select the image area you want to crop out of the original image.

2. Rotate – The two rotate buttons allow you to rotate an image clock-wise and counter-clock-wise.

3. Flip – The flip buttons allow you to flip an image horizontally or vertically.

4. Undo / Redo – If you don’t like a change you made, then simply undo your changes or redo them to revert back.

Now let’s look at the options you have in the right column of the image edit screen.

Image edit settings

1. Scale Image – You can use this option to manually scale image keeping the original proportions. Use this option before cropping an image otherwise you may not be able to keep the image proportions.

Note: You can only scale down an image in WordPress. You cannot make images larger by increasing the image dimensions.

2. Aspect ratio – If you want to keep a certain aspect ratio intact then this option allows you to set it. After that, you can click on the crop button to select an area while using the ratio you defined.

3. Thumbnail settings – From here you can choose whether you want to apply these changes to all image sizes, just the thumbnail, or all image sizes except thumbnail. Keep in mind that this thumbnail is the smallest image size created by WordPress for this image. It is not the same as the featured image or post thumbnail.

Once you are satisfied with the changes you have made, don’t forget to click on the Save, Scale, or Update button to save your changes.

WordPress will apply your changes to the image and create a new copy of the image on your server.

How to Restore Original Image After Editing

If you’re not happy with the edited image, then you can easily revert back to the original version. Simply edit the image again, and this time you will notice a new meta box labeled ‘Restore original image’.

Restore image after editing it in WordPress

Click to expand it and then click on the ‘Restore image’ button. WordPress will now restore your original image, and you will be able to edit it again or leave it as is.

We hope this article helped you learn how to do basic image editing in the WordPress admin area. You may also want to see our list of common image issues in WordPress and how to fix them.

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Reader Interactions

38 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. I am a web designer, I have over 100 installs of wordpress over many different servers and NOT ONE of those installs does wordpress crop an image.
    Its so frustrating to have to load photos in photoshop just to make a tiny change and then upload.

    • You may want to ensure you don’t have a specific theme or plugin across those sites that would be preventing you from using the crop tool


  2. I am using wordpress 4.9.5 on an IPad mini. When I go to scale an image all the selections work until I press the scale button; the image is cropped but I only get about 1/2 the width of the original crop selection. Anyone see this problem?

  3. This does not work at all and is not in the least bit helpful. WordPress is the most horrid place to try to work with images. My featured images in my posts list pages are all cut – cropped out and only show a partial photo. I have tried all kinds of plugins that wp beginner has suggested and none of them work at all. I use the Awaken theme and the author will not respond to fix his worthless theme. The site that I am working on will have to be deleted because of wordpress being such a horrid cms to work with.

  4. Cropping function doesn’t work anymore.
    Any plugin that can do image cropping in media library?

  5. I dont get that menu when i click edit image.. i am using bluehost.. i cant do anything to the images that are loading rotated 90 degrees.. fyi they not rotated when loaded to other sites.. this is specific to wordpress bluehost

  6. Does this work with the free version? I see NO options to edit photos, and all the ones I uploaded are rotated the wrong way.

  7. Hi,

    when you scale an image from the media library, does it automatically reduce the quality of the image in every post/page where it was previously published or is it necessary to load it again in each single page to speed up the site?


  8. Anyone had the issue when you rotate an image you get the following. ‘Could not load the preview image. Please reload the page and try again.’??

    I have GD and ImageMagick installed..

    flip works ok just not rotate and crop.

  9. I just discovered this yesterday. However, it seems to scale it on the fly as GTMetrix said that scaling images (that I had scaled using the tools above) was slowing down my page loading. I turned off Photon to be sure it wasn’t a cached image and also cleared my cache.

  10. I must admit, the editing of photographs is not very clear. I thought I had it all sorted and when I published it the image was huge and you only saw our eyes. I understand that the scale image has to be adjusted, but come on guys, we are all not up to speed with stuff like that. We want idiot proof editing and there are plenty on the market that do such. please have a look at it or you will lose this customer very quickly

  11. I’ve played with that edit feature, but cannot figure out how to get it to lock the aspect ratio. Let’s say I want a contributor to upload an image and then crop the part to show as the thumbnail before saving it. The numbers under “Image Crop -> Aspect Ratio” don’t seem to do anything and sometimes won’t let me enter any values. What are they for anyways?

  12. This crop does not work when I try to save the crop as thumbnail only – I want to show a cropped image as a thumbnail in a gallery page, and then show the full version when launched in the lightbox. Is this possible

  13. Thanks for the good post. So far I figured out what you have written. What I can’t manage is following:

    My featured image is 960×332 to fit into home page slider. When I crop the picture I want to save cropped part as thumbnail so I can include it in the post. That is all managed by WP itself. What I didn’t mange is to change thumbnail from default crop to the crop I selected. No matter how many times I have cropped, saved, deleted or whatever is possible I can’t complete it. Could you please, explain it. Thank you!

  14. Nice feature – never noticed it.

    One thing to ponder: Does it save an updated version of the file which is then referenced (i.e. if the edited pic is in a post)?

    I’d just be concerned that page load times could be increased if an inserted image in a WP post needs to be dynamically cropped/edited for correct display on each users page request.

    • @Roderick Dunne The final result replaces the existing image. It doesn’t need to perform those operations every time.

  15. Well, it’s nice but if more functions can be provided for photo editing that would be amazing! However, it might consumes more web space or usage if it goes!

  16. Crop has never worked for me. The Save button never works. It’s always grayed out. Actually in your post screenshot, the save button is also grayed out. Anyone else get crop to work?

    • @petebocken The save button is greyed out because the selection is still being made. Make your selection, then click the “Crop” button in the upper right to confirm the selection. Then it will perform the crop and you can save the result.

      • @Otto@petebocken

        I had been confused by this, too, and though that crop either didn’t work on my installation or only worked for certain file types (ie jpg but not png). The process of selecting first and clicking “Crop” second seems opposite of other programs that I’ve used, such as Acrobat and Picasa. But, at least I know how to do it now!

  17. @tonyjalicea Whoa. How did I miss that? I had no clue. You think you know someone. WordPress, she’s so sexy! :)

    • @itravelwithlove Just drag two photos or as many you want at once in the drag drop media uploader.

      • @wpbeginner that’s what I do, but after that, I still need to upload it in my post one by one. :|

        • @itravelwithlove You mean insert it in your post one by one.. Yes because most of the time you insert images at different spots.

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