How to Quickly Import Outside Images to WordPress Sites?


Do you want to import images to your WordPress site from external links? Photos from other sources used in your website should also be saved on the site’s server. Therefore, in this guide, we will share how to import outside images to WordPress.

WordPress does not download external images to your website by default. You have to use a WordPress plugin to import external images and save them in the media library or do it manually. We will show you both ways.

When and Why Do You Need to Import Outside Images to Your WordPress Site?

An outside image is a photo embedded in your content that loads from a different website.

Most commonly, WordPress users experience external image issues after migrating their sites from other platforms, such as Blogger, Joomla, and Weebly.

By default, if you use a good WordPress importer plugin, it will try to import images. You can view the imported images by navigating to the Media > Library page from the WordPress dashboard.

If you find that all your images are already there, but the post’s URLs are linking to the old sources, you need to update the URLs. We will also discuss this later in the article.

However, if you are not seeing the photos, then continue reading. We will show you how to import those external images to your WordPress site.

Import Outside Images to Your WordPress Site With a Plugin

Install and Set up the Auto Upload Image Plugin

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the Auto Upload Image plugin. Below are the instructions.

  1. Firstly, you need to visit the Plugins > Add New page from the WordPress dashboard.
  1. Enter Auto Upload Image into the search box in the top right corner.
  2. The plugin will appear first in the list. Click the Install Now button next to its title.
  3. The Auto Upload Image plugin will be downloaded. Once done, the Install Now button will change to the Active button. Click it.

After finishing the above process, you should visit the Settings > Auto Upload Image page to review the plugin settings.


The default settings should work for most users. But you can change them if needed.

The plugin will import external images into the default WordPress media upload directory. You can change it by providing a different base URL. In addition, you can set the file names, image alt tags, and image sizes, and exclude post types and domains.


Once done, do not forget to click the Save Changes button to store your changes.

Update Your Post to Trigger the Plugin

Now, it is time to update all your posts and pages with external image sources.

  1. Navigate to the Posts/Pages page from the WordPress dashboard and pick a post/page.
  1. After that, click the Update button in the top right corner.

If everything functions properly, the media library folder will be filled with the imported images. You can also see the external image URLs in the post/page have been updated.

Tip to Quickly Trigger the Plugin on Numerous Posts/Pages at Once

As you can see, this is a manual process. It can be tedious if you have a lot of posts and pages. Luckily, you can use the WordPress bulk edit feature to save time. 

  1. Simply navigate to the Posts/Pages page from the WordPress dashboard.
  1. Then click the Screen Options button in the top right corner.
  2. You need to increase the number in the Number of items per page field to 999. 
  3. Next, click the Apply button.
  4. The page will be reloaded. Now, it will display 999 posts/pages at a time. You need to select all of them. 
  1. Then select Edit in the bulk action menu. And click the Apply button.
  2. A quick edit box will be shown with all the selected posts/pages. Now, you only need to click the Update button. And all of them will be updated.

The process above will trigger the plugin to check all the selected posts/pages and import stock photos to your WordPress site.

If you have more than 999 posts/pages, you will need to repeat the process with the remaining content.

Import Outside Images to Your WordPress Site Without a Plugin

If you do not want to use a plugin like Auto Upload Update for any reason, this section is for you. But it only works if you have access to the source sites. Also, you will need an FTP client throughout the guide.

If you do not have one installed, we recommend trying FileZilla. This is a reliable and open-source application for PCs.

Download the External Images Using an FTP Client

After accessing the source site via an FTP client, you need to locate where the external images are stored. 

If the site is powered by WordPress, you will want to find the root directory, usually named ‘public_html‘ or ‘www‘. After that, go to the wp-content/uploads directory. This is the folder where all the media files are stored. 


To find the images, you will want to look for folders named by year. For example, we have two such folders in the image above: 2016 and 2017. As you might have guessed, each folder contains media files uploaded in their respective years.

After locating where the outside images are stored, all you have to do is download the image files to your PC. You can do this by selecting the folders/files you want. Then right-click on them and choose the Download option or something like that. Once an image becomes unnecessary, you can remove it from the computer to avoid potential clutter on the device’s drive.


You now can sit back and wait for the files to fully download before moving on.

Upload the External Images to Your WordPress Site Using an FTP Client

The next step is to upload the images to your WordPress site. To do so, you will need to log into your WordPress site via FTP.

Once in, you will want to go back to the wp-content/uploads/ directory. Then, drag the folders/files you downloaded to it and wait for the FTP client to upload them.


At this stage, there are several possible outcomes. If there is no duplicate image file, no warning will appear. Otherwise, the FTP client will ask if you want to replace them during upload. 

Either way, you should be fine if you choose to replace all the current media files as they are uploaded.

How to Fix the Image URLs?

If you already imported all external images to your WordPress site, but the URLs are still linking to the old sources, you need to update the URLs. 

Because WordPress inserts images using HTML code, you can use a plugin like Better Search Replace instead of manually replacing all the URLs.

This plugin does exactly what its name implies. It lets you search within your WordPress site for a particular phrase or URL and replace them with something else. 

Luckily, the plugin is free and simple to use. However, you need to install and activate it first. If you do not know how to do so, it is similar to installing and activating the Auto Upload Image plugin.

  1. Once done, go to the Tools > Better Search Replace page from the WordPress dashboard.
  1. Look for fields named Search for and Replace with. Enter the domain name of the source site in the former and your domain name in the latter.
  2. After that, select all the options in the Select tables list to ensure you do not miss any image URLs.
  3. Finally, scroll down and click the Run Search/Replace button. 

Once the plugin has done its job, the old URLs will be replaced with the new ones. And the images on your WordPress site will be displayed properly.

Final Words

That is all. We hope this guide has helped you learn how to import outside images to your WordPress site. Feel free to leave your questions if you have in the comments section below. We will answer you ASAP.

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