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How to Import External Images in WordPress

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Do you want to import external images in WordPress?

If you have recently moved your website from one platform or host to another, then there is a good chance that you may have external images embedded on your pages.

In this article, we will explain how to properly import those external images in WordPress.

How to Import External Images in WordPress

Why Import External Images in WordPress?

External images are images embedded in your content that load from another website or external URLs different from your main WordPress website.

Most commonly, users come across external image issues after migrating their website from other platforms like Blogger, Weebly, Joomla, or These issues include broken image links, which can be bad for search engine optimization (SEO).

By default, if you use one of the WordPress importers, then it will try to import images, including featured images or thumbnails. You can see the imported images by visiting the Media » Library page in your WordPress admin area.

If you see that all your images are already in the Media Library, but the image URLs in your posts still point to your old website, then you don’t need this article. Instead, you should follow our guide on how to easily update URLs when moving your WordPress site.

However, if you don’t see images imported to your WordPress media library, then continue reading. We will show you how to import those external images without needing to download images and re-upload them.

Importing External Images in WordPress With Auto Upload Images

The first thing you need to do is to install and activate the Auto Upload Images plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Note: You may notice that this plugin has not been tested with the latest WordPress releases. However, we’ve tested the plugin, and it works fine for this purpose.

You can read our article on whether to use untested WordPress plugins if you’re not sure. If you come across a better plugin alternative that does the same job, then feel free to leave a comment down below.

Upon activation, you need to visit the Settings » Auto Upload Images page to configure the image import plugin settings.

The Auto Upload Images Settings Page

The default settings will work for most users, but you can change them as needed.

For example, the plugin will import images to your default WordPress media uploads folder. You can change that by providing a different base URL. Other than that, it also allows you to set the image file name, image alt tag, and image size, and exclude post types.

If you do make some changes, then don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the page to store the new settings.

Saving some changes after configuring the Auto Upload Images plugin

Next, you will need to update the posts or pages containing the external images. Since this is a manual process, it can be time-consuming if you have a lot of content.

Luckily, there’s a quick way to update all posts with external images. Simply go to the Posts » All Posts page and then click on the Screen Options button at the top.

Use Screen Options to Display 999 Posts at a Time

You need to increase the number in the ‘Number of items per page field’ field to ‘999’ and click the ‘Apply’ button.

WordPress will reload the page, and this time it will show up to 999 posts at a time.

Note: If you have slow web hosting, your server may not be able to handle updating so many posts at once. In that case, you will want to do smaller batches of posts at a time or consider switching to a better WordPress hosting provider.

Next, you can select all of your posts on this page by clicking the checkbox next to ‘Title’.

After that, you should select ‘Edit’ from the Bulk actions menu and click the ‘Apply’ button.

Editing All Posts in Bulk

WordPress will now show you a ‘Bulk Edit’ box with all selected posts.

You just need to click on the ‘Update’ button, and WordPress will update all the posts on your WordPress blog.

Updating All Posts in Bulk

Remember, don’t change any of the settings in the bulk edit settings that you see. You just need to click the ‘Update’ button.

This will trigger the plugin to check all selected posts and import external images as it finds them.

If you have more than 999 posts, then you will need to visit the next page to select the remaining posts.

FAQs About Importing External Images in WordPress

Hopefully, this tutorial will have taught you how to import external images in WordPress. If you still have any questions, then we will answer them here.

How do I import the media library into WordPress?

First, you will need to go to Tools » Export on the website where you want to get the media library from. Here, you need to choose ‘Media’ and download the media library as a file.

You can then use a plugin like WordPress Importer to upload the media library to your new website. For more details, you can see our guide on how to download your entire WordPress media library.

Why is my WordPress media library not showing all the images?

If your WordPress media library isn’t showing all the images, then you are likely dealing with the WordPress image upload issue. You can fix this problem by changing file permissions.

For more details, you can see our guide on how to fix the image upload issue in WordPress.

We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to import external images in WordPress. You may also want to learn how to create a custom Instagram photo feed or check out our list of the must-have WordPress plugins to grow your site.

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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

25 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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  2. Mrteesurez says

    Please, I want to ask a question.
    I heard images hosted on another servers have impact on the hosted website as there might be too much request or unnecessary request from this site linking to my images in their site. Therefore, is there any way to avoid external site linking or using my hosted images on there websites ?? thanks.

  3. Robin says

    I am moving a site from blogger to wordpress and used the auto upload plugin which worked great until i realized it imported all images into the current month and year – March 2022.

    Is there a fix for this?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Sergio says

    The plugin is necessary, but for me it could not process images from the https site. As well as SVG pictures ignored.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Thank you for letting us know, if you reach out to the plugin’s support they should be able to take a look at what would be causing the problem


  5. Ali Irani says

    Hi guys,

    I’m developer of this plugin, thanks for introducing this plugin.

    I released v3.2 “Auto upload images” plugin and fixed some reported problems with new versions of WordPress.

    Thank you

  6. Melissa says

    Unfortunately this plugin converted my attachments to a .php extension instead of keeping their original extensions. They show up as gibberish.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Thank you for letting us know, you would also want to reach out to the plugin’s support and let them know you ran into that issue.


  7. emre says

    I get the the 500 internal server error, refreshing the page ı was able to get images to my media library. The only problem I guess is connecting these images again to posts, any idea ??

  8. Daniel says

    I’ve been spending days getting my media from a .com – managed blog to a self hosted one. This is the best. One note: The process would time out every few minutes (blank page). Just refreshing the page would continue the download until you were redirected back to wp-admin. Then the process was done.

  9. emre says

    I would like to ask you that can I import posts with images from localhost to live website?

    I used Import/Export tool of wordpress but I always get the “failed media upload” errors.

    I look for your valuable answer, thanks

  10. Nicolas Le Pape says

    Hi WPB Team,

    I have a directory of images stored on a website and “considered” as a CDN. I need these images to be displayed on an online standalone WP website.
    **Without importing them in the WP Media library.**
    Let’s say one image or more by post. I’ll add an extra field to tell the post the path of its image(s). Custom height and width fields as well.

    Which plugin would you advise me to activate pls?

    BRgds, NLE

    PS: love your articles. Pls keep on the good job!

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