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How To Bulk Remove Featured Images From Posts in WordPress

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Recently one of our readers asked us how they can bulk remove featured images from posts in WordPress? At WPBeginner, we have discussed featured images (post thumbnails) many times. We showed you how to add featured images in WordPress, how to add new image sizes in WordPress, how to regenerate thumbnails, we even showed you how to add multiple featured images to a post in WordPress. In this article we will show you how to bulk remove featured images from posts in WordPress.

The Problem With Bulk Removal of Post Thumbnails or Featured Images

Unfortunately, by default you can only remove featured images by editing each post and removing the featured image. Now if a user has hundreds of posts with featured images, then removing them one by one can be a very time consuming task. Instead, we are going to try a different approach. We will run a database query and unset the featured images on all posts.

Before you proceed, please note that the code below will remove featured images from all posts on your WordPress site by simply just pasting. Also note that this code will not delete any of your uploaded images, they will still be available in Media Library and you can reuse them anytime.

All you need to do is copy and paste this code in your theme’s functions.php file.

global $wpdb;
$wpdb->query( "
    DELETE FROM $wpdb->postmeta 
    WHERE meta_key = '_thumbnail_id'
" );

That’s all. As soon as you save your functions.php file this script will run a database query and remove featured images from all posts.

Important: Please remove this code immediately after saving your functions.php file. You will not be able to set featured images in WordPress as this code will keep removing featured images from posts.

We hope this article helped you save some time and allowed you to bulk remove featured images from WordPress posts. For questions and feedback please leave a comment below.

Source: Kaiser

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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

42 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Gregh777 says

    This little line of code saved me a lot of hassle. Thanks for that! I had imported about 50 articles and WordPress was saying each one had a featured image when it did not have one.

    I already know why it was doing that…long story…however, how am I to remove the featured image when there is nothing to remove?? Just paste these lines of code into the functions.php file like the article says and voila! All ghost images removed :D

    wpbeginner makes me SO happy ;)

  3. hercules says

    Deleting all the server images assigned to the thumbnails is relatively simple, now, how to condition to delete all uploads not used by the server as featured images? This should be the most interesting, clean the images not used by the system, in order to polish the machine resources deleting junk images, not used.

  4. aman says

    it works thank you , but what if i want to remove the post that don’t have feature image , how can i do that ?

  5. Em says

    Followed the instructions to the letter. Got this error message: Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘$wpdb’ (T_VARIABLE) in /home/ruznnjep/public_html/wp-content/themes/natalie/functions.php on line 411

    Blog broken. Had to reinstall. Thanks.

  6. Jax says

    Is there anyway to undo this? I didnt realise it would remove thumbnail images as well. I have tried restoring the thumbnails but it is not working. Thanks

  7. Mike says

    #1. Are we 100% positive that the current code does NOT delete any images from my media folder? And simply “unset” them from featured image?

    #2. You mention “However, the query can be modify to exclude certain post types.” Can you share the code I would use to avoid a category with ID=25?

    Thank you so much,

  8. Raakib Hasan says

    This code remove the post thumbnails as well. But I want to keep the post thumbnail ( when it show grids on Homepage) and just want to remove the feature image from inside the posts. Is this possible?

  9. Zaid Sparrow says

    Hi, will I have my all featured images back on place after removing this code? or I’ll have to set them manually again?

  10. Abdul says

    this is exactly what i was looking for but i have tried these and it’s not working for me.i am using generate child theme and on my home page some posts are still showing featured image.i also turned them off in genesis settings but nothing do i stop featured images to be shown on blog page?Thanks

  11. w0ngsimp4ng says

    thanks its work :). I Have removed all featured image and rebuild again with auto post thumbnail plugin.

  12. Jeff says

    I pasted the above code into my site with no luck. Is this thread still accurate and active?


  13. Marcelo says

    After delete my related images my images from homepage desappeared, but when I go to post details it appears normally. Before run the script, the homepage used the images from inside the post and not from related images, so I really don’t know why they desappeared from my homepage. Do you have any idea why this happened?

  14. Rahul says

    Is there a plugin or codes to remove both post and images attached to a post when we delete it? I mean if i delete a post i also want to delete images related to that post also.

  15. Nicholas says

    Is it possible to query a specific category and remove just those categories posts featured images?

  16. Justin Edwards says


    I used this code yesterday to try to delete the featured images as part of an upgrade to a new WordPress theme. While it did delete the featured images from posts, it also deleted them from the media library and I think it’s also deleted the original files from the server.

    Having used this code to try and speed thing up, I now find myself having to re-install and re-link over 2,500 images for my site.

  17. UaMV says

    One should also note that this deletes featured images not just from standard post, but from all posts (including custom post types), correct?

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