Free image handling plugins for WordPress

In a time not distant, it will be possible to flash any image formed in thought on a screen and render it visible at any place desired.”—Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla graffiti
Nikola Tesla graffiti portrait—

The future is bright, but we’re not there yet. And the best way to share images with the world so far is put them online. However, just throwing them out there will not do, not yet anyway—images have to be handled with care. In WordPress we have some great tools for adjusting images for the web.

With ShortPixel, we’re helping images get in shape, so the browser may load them faster. The optimization is done automatically and you don’t have much to do, just sit back and enjoy. But there are other improvements that concern images on WordPress and I was curious: what other plugins for handling images are there?

So I thought I’d take a look at the plugins that help websites make better use of their images and photos.

Image Gallery

Say you’d like to share photos from the hip event you just attended, but you don’t want to feature each of them in your post. The way to do this is create a gallery where all the images can be viewed in a more elegant, grouped fashion.

FooGallery plugin

FooGallery plugin is created by AdamWarner and his team who managed to come up with a really friendly tool for managing image galleries. The plugin is free to use, it’s easy going for beginners and also customizable for developers.

Plugin features:
—you get to choose between several beautiful gallery templates with previews available
—arrange your images in any order you like
—if you have several galleries, you can group them in separate albums

Image Widget

Widgets represent a simple way to add content to your website’s structure—in the sidebars and footer. Widgets also allow the display of images and they require no coding expertise.

Image Widget

Image Widget is created by Modern Tribe and it’s free to use. It can be added from Appearance > Widgets in your WordPress Dashboard.

Plugin features:
—image size can be manually defined
—multisite compatible
—the image fields can be added optionally (image title, link, caption)

Image Sliders

What a visitor sees first when entering your site is similar to the first impression you get when you’re meeting someone new.

There are several ways to make your website appealing, starting with good branding and design. The above the fold’s role is to also convey what is to be found on the rest of your site. You can achieve this by using an image slider to feature your best content. It’s also a way of putting up news and announcements, so they can be immediately noticed by your website’s visitors.

Smart Slider3

Smart Slider 3 is a powerful and intuitive WordPress slider plugin. Anyone can create amazing, responsive and SEO friendly sliders using Smart Slider 3’s modern visual editor. With Smart Slider 3 you can create sliders that were never possible before.

Plugin features:
– Visual slide editor (drag’n’drop or structured building)
– 10+ ready to use, customizable slider templates (100+ for Pro users)
– 6 layers: image, heading, text, button, YouTube, Vimeo
– Thumbnails, arrows, bullets for navigation
– Cool transition effects
– Post slider, which updates automatically when you add a new post
– Compatible with Gutenberg, Elementor, Divi and other popular page builders.

Featured images

The representative image for a WordPress post is called a Featured image and it integrates differently on your site depending on your WP theme. It’s a special breed of images because of how it interacts with your homepage and the rest of your website. In order to check if your website supports featured images, go inside the post editor and check f the featured image is present below the Tags box.

Quick Features Images plugin

It might occur that your featured images require some changes, and you’d like to fix them altogether. Quick Featured Images was developed by Martin Stehle who also makes his plugin freely available in the WordPress repository. His plugin helps you bulk manage featured images already published and also create some new settings for future featured images.

Plugin features:
—bulk manage featured images using flexible filters
—create default rules to be applied to future featured images
—multisite compatible

Image SEO

Images are an important part of your site and they are treated differently by search engines. Besides the visual information that users see, images carry information designed to help search engines “understand” what these elements are on the web page.

The ALT attribute helps Google assign the image under a specific search query. If someone is looking for ‘cute doggie’ and your dangerous rottweiler shows up it means that you have to edit the ALT to better represent your image.

SEO Friendly Images plugin

SEO Friendly Images by Vladimir Prelovac will help your website score better in search.

Plugin features:
—ALT and TITLE attributes are generated automatically from various presets (post name, image file name, post category)
—replaces only empty or non-existing ALT tags

Retina display compatible images

With the new  4.4 version, WordPress is now providing alternate image sizes, including Retina compatible images. This means that when the browser detects an Apple Retina display, it will load up the most appropriate image size for the device. The Retina high res technology allows the new iPad, iPhone and MacBook Pro to display more dots per inch than older devices (around 300 DPI).

WP Retina 2X plugin

In order to convey retina-compatible images on your site, you need to process them with WP Retina 2X plugin, created by Jordy Meow.

Plugin features:

—the retina images are generated automatically with the bulk generate option
—check the image status in your media library
—more details on how the plugin works

Regenerate thumbnails

This is a special situation that you will most likely encounter when you change the theme of your site. Thumbnails sizes that were defined by your old theme will no longer work well with your new theme, and, because of the transition, some of the thumbs will look distorted.

Regenerate Thumbnails plugin

To recreate the new thumbnails for the new theme, you can use the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin created by Alex Mills. After activation, the plugin is to be found under the Tools menu.

Plugin features:
—individual and bulk thumbnail regeneration available
—does not delete previous image sizes
—you can uninstall it after you finished working with it

Image watermarking

Image rights and online theft are serious issues these days, and the only real protection for your images is to not upload them on the web. A way to protect your images from being used by others without your consent is to digitally ‘stamp’ them. Of course there are ways of removing the watermark, but at least you will give the perpetrators some additional hassle to work on.

Image Watermark plugin

The Image Watermark plugin by dFactory will get your images watermarked pronto. It comes with a flexible way for setting it up.

Plugin features:
—both original image & thumbnail watermarking
—set watermark custom size, transparency and position
—watermarked image preview

I’ve chosen to recommend these plugins not only because they are free, but because they’ve been validated by thousands of active installs. I’ve also tested them and they are compatible with our service meaning that all images uploaded within these plugins and their thumbnails will be optimized if you have the ShortPixel plugin installed.

I am sure that there are other WP image uses that I haven’t covered, and I’d be happy to learn which plugins offer a solution for them in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Free image handling plugins for WordPress

  1. ShortPixel does not work with Watermark. Then the pictures are not rendered. Mostly only half the image is rendered.

    You have to deactivate Shortpixel. And after the upload you can bulk the images to optimize. Together automatic (watermark & shortpixel) doesn’t work, unfortunately.

    1. Say you’d like to share photos from the hip event you just attended, but you don’t want to feature each of them in your post. The way to do this is create a gallery where all the images can be viewed in a more elegant, grouped fashion.

    2. Please note that this is no longer true, we make it so that the 2 plugins work now well together.

    1. With ShortPixel, we’re helping images get in shape, so the browser may load them faster. The optimization is done automatically and you don’t have much to do, just sit back and enjoy. But there are other improvements that concern images on WordPress and I was curious: what other plugins for handling images are there?

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