Are you unhappy with the way WordPress is cropping your post thumbnail images?
In some cases, WordPress may need to automatically crop the edges off your post thumbnail. This doesn’t always look very good, and you can usually create a better thumbnail by manually cropping the image and editing it in other ways.
In this article, we’ll show you how to crop and edit WordPress post thumbnails.
Why Crop and Edit WordPress Post Thumbnails?
The easiest way to make a new blog post more appealing is to add a thumbnail or featured image. Almost all WordPress themes come with built-in support for featured images and display them beautifully across different areas of your WordPress website.
To learn more, see our guide on how to add featured images or post thumbnails in WordPress.
Depending on the theme you are using, WordPress may automatically crop your post thumbnail. This can sometimes cut off an important part of the image, leaving a poor impression on your visitors.
Let’s take a look at how to crop your WordPress post thumbnails manually. We’ll also show you how to edit your thumbnails in other ways.
Cropping and Editing Post Thumbnails from WordPress
Did you know that you can do basic image editing in WordPress? The WordPress ‘edit image’ feature allows you to crop, rotate, flip, and scale images.
This is handy for quick editing jobs especially when you can’t access the more powerful image editing software on your main computer.
To get started, you need to open the post that has the thumbnail you wish to edit. On the right, you need to scroll down to the featured image panel and then click the image.
This will open the WordPress Media Library with your featured image selected. On the right is an area where you can add alt text, a title, a caption, and a description for your image.
At the top, under ‘Attachment Details’, you will also find an ‘Edit Image’ link.
When you click that link you’ll be taken to the ‘Edit image’ page.
Here you’ll find a preview of the image, buttons to crop the image, edit it in different ways, and several other options that are useful when scaling or cropping the image.
First, you should look at the ‘Thumbnail Settings’ section. Here you can select whether to apply your changes to all image sizes, just the thumbnail, or all sizes except the thumbnail.
Keep in mind that this thumbnail setting is for the smallest image size created by WordPress for this image, such as when you use the ‘Latest Posts’ block. It is not the same as the featured image or post thumbnail.
These settings make it possible to create one version of the image for your featured image or post thumbnail, and another for the small thumbnail.
For this tutorial, we’ll stay with the default ‘All image sizes’ option.
Cropping WordPress Post Thumbnails
To crop the image, you need to click the ‘Crop’ button at the top of the screen.
You will now see handles at each corner and edge of the image. You can drag these handles to select the part of the image that should remain after it is cropped.
As you drag the handles, you can watch the ‘Selection’ fields on the right under ‘Image Crop’ to monitor the dimensions the image will be cropped to.
Once you’re happy, simply click the ‘Crop’ button again to crop the image.
A common reason for cropping a post thumbnail image in WordPress is to make sure it has the correct aspect ratio for your theme, such as 1:1 (square) or 16:9. You can use the ‘Aspect ratio’ settings to make it easier to select an area with the correct ratio.
You simply enter the aspect ratio you need, and your selection will be kept at that ratio.
For example, we’ll enter an aspect ratio of 1:1 to ensure a square image. When you drag the mouse over the image, the shape will always be square.
When you’re happy with the selection, make sure you click the ‘Crop’ button again.
After that, you need to click the ‘Save’ button to store the changed image.
Scaling WordPress Post Thumbnails
It’s important not to use images that are too large, or it will affect the performance of your website. You can learn more in our guide on how to optimize images for web performance.
When you import a photo from your phone or a digital camera, it will have a very high resolution. Reducing the dimensions to something more reasonable will make it load faster.
Our image has a resolution of 2560×1637 pixels, which is larger than we need for a post thumbnail. We can reduce it to a width of 1200 pixels by typing in the first ‘Scale Image’ field.
Notice that the image’s height automatically changes to keep the image in proportion.
Next, you need to click the ‘Scale’ button to change the resolution of the image. Don’t forget to click the ‘Save’ button to store your changes.
Note that you can only scale an image down in WordPress. You cannot make images larger by increasing the image dimensions.
Rotating WordPress Post Thumbnails
If your post thumbnail looks wrong because it is rotated sideways, then you can fix it using the WordPress image editor.
You’ll find two buttons that rotate your image. ‘Rotate left’ will rotate it in a counter-clockwise direction, and ‘Rotate right’ will rotate it in a clockwise direction.
Make sure you click the ‘Save’ button to store your changes.
Flipping WordPress Post Thumbnails
You can also flip your image. This is useful, for example, if there is writing on an image that appears reversed.
Clicking the ‘Flip horizontal’ button will instantly create a mirror image.
Clicking the ‘Flip vertical’ button will flip the image upside down.
Once you’re finished, you’ll need to click the ‘Save’ button to store your changes.
Restoring WordPress Post Thumbnails
When you save changes to an image, WordPress keeps a copy of the original image. You can restore that image at any time.
Simply return to the WordPress ‘Edit image’ screen, and you will see a new panel labeled ‘Restore Original Image’.
You need to click the down arrow button to expand this section. You will now see a button labeled ‘Restore image’.
When you click that button, all of your changes will be discarded, and the original image will be restored.
In this case, you don’t need to save your changes, as the image has already been restored.
Cropping and Editing WordPress Thumbnails on Your Computer
While the WordPress image editor is handy, you’ll normally find it easier to crop and edit it using third party image editing software on your computer.
Adobe Photoshop is a premium software application for creating and editing images. It’s more than you need for editing a post thumbnail, but it’s a good option if you’re familiar with it and it’s already installed on your computer.
Although there are similarities, these tools work in different ways. That means that once you choose an application, you will need to become familiar with its tools. As an example, here’s a screenshot of how to use Affinity Paint’s crop tool.
We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to crop and edit WordPress post thumbnails. You may also want to learn how to create a contact form in WordPress, or check out our list of the best social media plugins.