Nearly every website uses images in some way, and it’s clear why — we’ve known for a long time that humans remember pictures better than words. Plus, images add variety to what otherwise might be a pretty plain web page.
An image gallery, a series of related photos displayed together, is one of the best ways to create visual impact with a collection of images. Fortunately for WordPress users, it’s also one of the easiest thanks to plugins.
Whether you’re a professional photographer, a travel blogger, or a business owner, WordPress image gallery plugins make it easy to arrange your photos (or even audio or videos) in different patterns and styles.
Here’s the one downside: There are a lot of gallery plugins — the count is somewhere in the thousands. Thankfully, the best of the best tend to rise to the top of the WordPress open-source ecosystem. Here, we’ve compiled the 10 best gallery plugins for you to show off your images and make your site look more professional.
How to Choose a WordPress Gallery Plugin
WordPress does include native image gallery functionality, but it’s pretty limited and only good for very basic gallery displays. Plugins offer a lot more in terms of design, so they’re worth exploring.
When searching for a plugin to enhance your gallery, here are some things to look out for:
While there is a good deal of overlap between what different plugins offer, each is unique in its features and intended audience. Are you looking for a quick and simple way to incorporate a basic gallery? Or do you need a tool for more customizable, complex displays? Are you aiming for casual use, or are you a photographer or professional?
These considerations should influence your plugin purchase. In your search, look out for the following features:
- responsive designs for mobile users (this is a must-have for any gallery)
- visual customization options, including text, colors, image sizing, animations, and filters
- gallery layout options, including grid, tiles, vertical columns, circles, masonry grids, and mosaics (as well as templates for easily building any of these layouts)
- image optimizations like a CDN, automatic compression, and/or lazy loading
- social sharing options
- asset organization and management tools
- video and audio galleries
- integrations for things like ecommerce, digital downloads, and media uploads/management
- watermarking and right-click protection to prevent unauthorized use
While more options may seem like a good thing, you don’t want too many unused features in your plugin, as this makes for more unnecessary code that could slow down your website and distract from your workflow.
To combat this, some plugins follow an extension-based model in which the core plugin is free and features come as paid add-ons. Look out for these types of plugins in our list if you favor a more modular approach.
If you plan to spend a lot of time with your gallery plugin, ease-of-use is essential. Again, some of these plugins are designed for beginners and casual users, while others are packed with features and may take a bit more tinkering to master.
Similar to a page builder plugin, many of these gallery builders operate with a drag-and-drop interface for placing, reordering, and resizing images. A drag-and-drop approach makes things much easier, which is why they’re so popular. Some plugins also have developer tools for more advanced fine-tuning.
The best way to get a feel for a plugin’s interface is to try it out — most options here are freemium, allowing you to download and try out the free version before committing to an upgrade.
Price (and Free Versions!)
Of course, price is likely at the top of your mind. Generally, the more you pay for a WordPress gallery plugin, the more you’ll get out of it. This doesn’t mean you need to go all-out to make an effective gallery. Many plugins have generous free versions, and others go for a relatively cheap one-time payment.
Still, those looking for video galleries, theft protection, and a wider range of templates and customization features will have to invest in a premium plugin.
Best WordPress Gallery Plugins
- Envira Gallery
- NextGEN Gallery
- Photo Gallery by 10Web
- Gmedia Photo Gallery
- Responsive Lightbox and Gallery
- Photo Gallery by Supsystic
- All-in-One Video Gallery
Envira Gallery is a leading WordPress gallery plugin for images and videos, and is one of our top recommendations. Its flexibility, customizable features, templates, and user-friendliness make it a standout option among hundreds of competitors.
This freemium plugin is designed for both beginner and advanced WordPress site owners — for new users, the interface is based on a drag-and-drop system so creators can easily place images and adjust sizing without touching code. Envira Gallery also includes several mobile-friendly templates for free and even more in paid plans, so you won’t have to begin from scratch each time.
However, the free version will only get you so far. With a subscription, you’ll have access to unlimited galleries, Dropbox imports, WooCommerce integration, organizational tools, video galleries, social sharing, and watermarks and password protection to limit unauthorized sharing. Most of the plugin's advanced features come from add-ons: The more you pay, the more add-ons you’re allowed.
Overall, Envira Gallery strikes a good balance between ultra-simple and advanced gallery plugins we’ll see later. However, it’s certainly not the cheapest option, making it best for businesses or sites that earn enough revenue to spend on image galleries.
Like Envira Gallery, Modula is a freemium WordPress gallery plugin designed to be user-friendly and intuitive while still being flexible enough for experienced WordPress users and developers.
This plugin specializes in responsive grid galleries, whether you’re looking to build a standard grid or customize your grid to achieve a mosaic-like appearance. After you select the custom grid option, the plugin’s drag-and-drop builder lets you easily size images to format your galleries how you please. Or, style your gallery with custom CSS.
As a freemium tool, Modula gives free users a good deal of freedom with their grids. It lets you make basic and customized galleries and apply some basic style settings. If you upgrade to a paid plan, you’ll unlock lightboxes, speed optimization, gallery sorting and filters, other gallery formats like slider, slideshow, and video, and a lot more.
Photographers and other visual artists should consider NextGEN Gallery, a hugely popular and feature-heavy gallery plugin for WordPress. NextGEN was made for professionals, and this is clear from the features it offers.
Firstly, there are many gallery options for presenting photos, including tiles, slideshows, mosaics, and masonry grids. Most of these are premium options — the free version gives you two styles, which are still enough to work with for basic galleries. The plugin also lets you tweak the details of galleries like animations and image sizes. This tight control is ideal for those who want to present their photos exactly how they want.
The pro plans also come with features to utilize galleries for an online business, including deep linking, ecommerce tools, photo organization and uploading tools, watermarks, built-in gallery management, digital downloads, lightboxes, and even coupons. There’s also personal support if you encounter problems.
NextGEN is best on websites that showcase photos — business websites that want to insert the occasional gallery will probably find it overkill. However, creative professionals who want fine control over how their images are displayed and sold to clients will get a lot from this high-quality plugin.
Like most other options here, FooGallery is a freemium gallery plugin. However, this option is notable for the functionality that comes with its free version. For no cost, FooGallery gives you access to six responsive image gallery templates, including masonry grid and thumbnail galleries, plus lightboxes (after installing an additional free plugin also made by FooPlugins).
Galleries are also quite customizable in the free version. You can adjust borders, hover effects, and loading icons and effects, then sort your galleries into albums to keep better track of your assets. FooGallery also has a drag-and-drop interface for arranging images, and you can place your gallery with a Gutenberg block or shortcode. Paired with custom CSS, FooGallery gets you pretty far for free.
FooGallery Pro is affordable as well, and adds features like three additional templates, support for video galleries, image filters, gallery filtering, lazy loading, and more hover and loading effects. Another cool premium feature is infinite scrolling that makes it easy to incorporate more images into one page, avoiding pagination and extra clicks from users.
Photo Gallery by 10Web is another WordPress gallery plugin with quality offerings in both its free and paid versions. Across the board, 10Web has made this plugin accessible to anyone in need of a sleek image gallery, and balances flexibility with ease-of-use.
In the free version, users get some simple grid gallery formats, a file manager, and settings options for adding watermarks, creating thumbnails, and linking to social accounts. You can even create slideshows and lightboxes, a nice free benefit. However, it limits the number of galleries and lightboxes you may implement.
The paid versions allow you to create more galleries and also incorporate features like additional gallery layouts, rating and commenting, social sharing, ecommerce capability, support for audio and video, and auto-updates from Instagram and Facebook feeds. Most of these paid features come through add-ons — buy only what you need to keep it lightweight.
Whichever version you choose, Photo Gallery by 10Web aims to be simple to adopt and start using quickly. It’s ideal for those who want a relatively inexpensive and robust premium tool, and who don’t need something super advanced.
Pricing: Photo Gallery by 10Web comes in a free version as well as a Basic version ($30) and a Pro ($60) version
While it may not sport as many downloads as other options here, Gmedia Photo Gallery is another solid choice for making image galleries on any WordPress website. Gutenberg users, pay attention to this one — Gmedia comes with four different blocks to support your image displays. There are blocks for galleries, albums, categories, and tags.
Gmedia Photo Gallery supports slick, visually pleasing galleries that you can customize with a large number of back-end settings. If you’re someone who becomes overwhelmed by dozens of tweakable settings, maybe avoid this one. However, those who want tight control should sample the free version.
The pro version of Gmedia supports video and audio, image editing from inside your dashboard, and adds social and email sharing as well. Many features are drag-and-drop, saving your time and energy while arranging your photos just right. It's also worth noting that Gmedia Photo Gallery is one of the cheaper paid options in this list.
Frequent WordPress users may have heard of Jetpack, a multipurpose plugin developed by Automattic (the same team behind the WordPress CMS). Jetpack is meant to optimize a handful of common functions including performance, security, and design, under one plugin. Some of these are free and others are paid.
Among these features, Jetpack offers a tiled gallery block for free. This block builds on the native WordPress gallery feature to offer a sleeker, more customizable gallery design. Users can format their galleries as square tiles, a circular grid, tiled columns, or a mosaic, and there are some basic customizations available too.
Sure, it’s not nearly as powerful as other options here, but that’s not really the point. This tool is meant for those who want simple, clean image grids without too much extra work, or even without installing another plugin. Fewer plugins help WordPress site performance, making Jetpack great for those who want to keep a light codebase.
Pricing: The tiles gallery block is free with the Jetpack plugin (which is also free!).
Responsive Lightbox & Gallery is another prominent player in the WordPress gallery space, and for good reason: This plugin takes a modular approach to its features, more so than other plugins we’ve discussed.
The core plugin is free and lets you do a lot with its three included templates and settings. From there, you can customize your installation with paid extensions. This means you can pay for and install what you need without wasting storage space or budget on excess features. These extensions enable things like different types of gallery views, stylish lightboxes, and remote galleries (i.e. using images from external sites). There’s also the option to purchase all extensions in a bundle.
As the name implies, this plugin is largely focused on lightboxes. If you want to present photos one by one via lightbox, add this plugin to your list. Also note that Responsive Lightbox & Gallery supports videos, posts, and WooCommerce integrations.
Pricing: The core Responsive Lightbox & Gallery plugin is free and can be enhanced with paid extensions. Individual extensions range in price from $14 to $19, or you can purchase all extensions for $49.
The freemium Photo Gallery plugin by Supsystic is great for WordPress site owners looking for more simplicity in their premium photo gallery plugin. On top of its capable free version, Photo Gallery comes with just one paid option that lets you make many types of impressive displays.
With this plugin, you have access to eight different customizable gallery layouts, including carousel and post feed (if you want to try content other than images), as well as a cool Polaroid-style presentation where you can place captions and evoke a nostalgic feel. The affordable premium version also unlocks video galleries, tags and albums for better organization, a CDN to get images to users’ devices more quickly, and more.
Despite all that this plugin offers, its galleries remain mobile-friendly and simple to set up. To help prevent unauthorized use, you can turn on watermarks in the free version as well.
Finally, WordPress users in need of a dedicated video option for their galleries can check out All-in-One Video Gallery by Team Plugins360. Video galleries are a powerful way to keep visitors engaged on your pages, and this plugin makes it possible to display them in a searchable gallery.
Like our other image-centric plugins, All-in-One Video Gallery is no-code and intuitive for new website owners. Incorporate videos from sites like YouTube and Vimeo, or place your own videos — the plugin supports popular video file formats. It also included playback buttons so users can control videos as they want.
Behind the scenes, you can organize videos with tags and categories and assign IDs to videos too. On the viewing side, the free version has simple grid and list view options, with more layouts available with the premium plugin.
The paid version of this plugin allows for other gallery formats (popup and slider), audio content, a thumbnail generator, and more SEO-friendly markup.
Pricing: All-in-One Video Gallery offers a free version and two premium versions: Pro ($4.99 per month or a one-time payment of $149.99) and Business ($9.99 per month or a one-time payment of $289.99).
WordPress Gallery Plugins: Keep Your Images In Line
On websites, galleries make engagement happen, and gallery plugins make galleries happen. While they vary in price, features, and target user, all of these plugins aim to accomplish one goal: keep visitors on your pages for longer.
That’s why the plugin you use is as important as the content you choose to populate your gallery. An image gallery of generic stock photos probably won’t have as much of an effect as your own high-quality images. So, take the time to build out your photo library, then select the plugin that best fits your needs.
Originally published Sep 8, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated September 08 2021