There are a few reasons you might need to export your WordPress media library. Maybe you used a backup plugin that backed up everything but your media files. Maybe you just created a new site and only want to transfer the images from an existing site to the new one.

Whatever the reason, there are a few ways that you can export your media library without having to download every image individually to a folder on your computer. Doing so manually would be tedious and virtually impossible on a media-rich site.

In this post, we’ll explore three ways you can export media from your WordPress website painlessly.

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Let’s walk through each method below so you can pick the one that best suits your skills, file management tools, and media library.

How to Export Your WordPress Media Library Using FTP

FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, offers users direct access to their website’s files from their computers, without the use of a browser. Since FileZilla is one of the most widely used FTP solutions and is officially recommended by WordPress, we’ll use it in this demo. If you’re using another FTP solution, the steps will be similar.

1. Open FileZilla. It should say Remote Site in the top left-corner of your screen.

Remote site display in FileZilla

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2. Click on the wp-content directory.

3. Find the folder labelled “uploads” and drag it to your desktop.

Uploads folder in wp-content directory in FileZilla outlined in red

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This process is so incredibly simple that it seems like the obvious choice. But the major disadvantage of using FTP is how slow the download process is. Each media file will be uploaded to the FTP queue and downloaded one-by-one.

If you have hundreds or thousands of files in your media library, consider one of the other methods below.

How to Export Your WordPress Media Library Using cPanel

cPanel organizes all the files on your WordPress hosting account into folders and lets you manage and edit them with File Manager. Since File Manager is a simple and popular tool, we’ll walk through how you can use it to export your media library. If you’re using another file manager, the process will be similar.

1. To start, log in to your control panel and open the File Manager.

2. Click the public_html folder.

Public_html folder in cPanel's File Manager outlined in red

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3. Click the wp-content folder.

4. Find the folder labelled “uploads.”

5. Select it, then click the Compress button in the top toolbar.

Red arrow pointing to compress button in cPanel's File Manager

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6. Under Compression Type, select the Zip Archive option.

Red arrow pointing to Zip Archive option in cPanel's File Manager

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7. By default, it will be named “uploads.zip.” You can leave as is or rename it.

8. Click Compress File(s).

9. A new window will automatically open with the “Compression Results,” showing how much the compressed files were reduced in size. Click Close.

10. Back in wp-content, select the uploads.zip folder and click the Download button in the top toolbar.

Download button in cPanel's File Manager outlined in red

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11. Once the download is complete, you can move the file from your Download directory to your desktop or any folder you wish.

If you’d like to simplify this process further, you can use a plugin.

How to Export Your WordPress Media Library Using a Plugin

We’ll walk through how to export your WordPress media library using the Export Media Library plugin. If you’re using another plugin, check out its documentation for exact steps.

1. First, log into your WordPress dashboard.

2. Click Plugins > Add New.

Click Plugins > Add New in WordPress dashboard to start plugin installation process

3. Search for “Export Media Library.” When the search result appears, click Install Now.

User searching for and installing Export Media Library plugin in dashboard

4. Click Activate. You’ll automatically be redirected to the tab containing the installed plugins on your site.

Success message confirming Export Media Library plugin was installed

5. Now it’s time to configure the Export Media Library plugin settings. Click Media > Export.

Click Media > Export to configure Export Media Library plugin's settings

6. Once on the settings page, select from two drop-down menus. The first requires you to select whether you want your media library downloaded in one folder or in nested folders.

User selecting folder structure for download file on Export Media Library plugin's settings page

7. The second requires you to select whether you want the file to be compressed or not.

User selecting compression for download file on Export Media Library plugin's settings page

8. Once you’ve made these selections, click Download Zip. Your entire WordPress media library will be downloaded into a Zip file into your Downloads directory.

Download Zip button outlined in red on Export Media Library plugin's setting page

WordPress Plugins to Export Your Media Library

While any of the methods described above will allow you to export your media library, WordPress plugins can automate the process to save you the most time. Take a closer look at the Export Media Library plugin and another highly-rated option below.

Export Media Library

Export Media Library plugin settings page in WordPress dashboard

Export Media Library is a WordPress plugin by Mass Edge Inc. that allows users to export their media library files as a single compressed zip archive. Since it’s capable of zipping thousands of files in less than a minute, this plugin is ideal for exporting your WordPress media library, no matter the size.

Export Media with Selected Content

When you use the native export feature in WordPress to export a specific post type, any related media files are not exported by default. That’s where Export Media with Selected Content comes to the rescue. When installed, it will add a checkbox labelled “Export media with selected content.” When checked, this plugin will locate the featured image and attachments of a post and export them.

Checkbox labelled “Export media with selected content” added to native export settings when plugin installed

This plugin does have limitations. Since the plugin searches for “attached” media in the body of the post, if the theme or plugins on your site use different ways of referencing media, then the plugin will be unable to find and export them.

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Originally published Jun 22, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated June 22 2020

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WordPress Website