WordPress featured image not showing is one of the most popular problems you may encounter as a website owner. This is not a serious issue as it doesn’t affect your site’s structure and functions. However, the featured image disappearance can negatively impact your site’s appearance and interface.
The most common scenario is that WordPress featured images are not showing up at all. But in some cases, the featured images just don’t work properly. For example, they display in the wrong position, replicate, or don’t appear on social media.
Today, we’ll cover everything about WordPress featured image not showing and how to get rid of this annoyance.
Let’s get into it!
- What is a WordPress Featured Image?
- #1 Upload Featured Images Properly
- #2 Use Featured Images Instead of Cover Images
- #3 Fix the HTTP Image Upload Error
- #4 Resolve Theme or Plugin Conflicts
- #5 Disable Lazy Loading
- #6 Modify WordPress Admin Dashboard Settings
- #7 Change User Permissions to View Featured Images
- #8 Remove Duplicate Featured Images
- #9 Adjust Featured Images that Don’t Look Right
- #10 Fix Featured Image Not Showing on Blog Post Gallery Pages
- #11 Fix WordPress Featured Image Not Showing on Social Media
- #12 Install Featured Image Plugins
What is a WordPress Featured Image?
A WordPress featured image appears as a thumbnail for your content. In other words, it acts like your post or page’s cover, similar to a book’s cover.
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Normally, a featured image should visualize your content’s main ideas. Its purpose is to grab your visitors’ attention and make a good first impression. That’s why having featured images representing your posts benefits your SEO efforts and brings more traffic to your site.
By default, you can add a featured image to all of your posts and pages in WordPress. A featured image shouldn’t be confused with the first image of your blog posts. It’s usually revealed as the primary image in your blog post list or when getting shared on social media.
To illustrate, the featured image will show up automatically when you create a feed of your blog posts. This way, you can present a visual portfolio of your posts instead of a bunch of text-only links.
Besides, whenever you share your post on social media, the featured image of this post will appear automatically. You don’t need to generate a second version of that same image every time you share. It will be pulled from the original content.
You can learn more about WordPress featured images and their benefits here. Now let’s move on to how to fix the featured image not showing WordPress problem.
#1 Upload Featured Images Properly
First thing first, you should upload featured images properly to avoid the error. You can skip this section if you’ve already known the upload process.
In case you’re new to WordPress, take the following steps to ensure you’re doing it the right way. Please notice that we’re using the classic editor.
- In your WordPress admin dashboard, navigate to Posts → Add New to create a new blog post. The same goes with Pages. You can select the All Posts option to add featured images to generated posts.
2. Scroll down to the Featured image section in the right-hand panel. Click Set featured image and upload your desired image, or choose an existing image in the Media Library.
4. Hit the Set featured image button to finish.
#2 Use Featured Images Instead of Cover Images
For those who’re using Gutenberg editor, the problem sometimes happens due to confusion between cover images and featured images. The most common mistake is to implement a cover image and assume it works like a featured image.
Indeed, both cover and featured images function in similar ways, showing large pictures at the top of the posts. However, they have some differences in essence.
A cover image refers to a full-width photo placed in the post content area. Simply put, cover images can be anywhere in your post or page, not just at the beginning. Whereas, a featured image is used as the primary picture, showing up at the start of the article.
As mentioned, featured images show up in the post feed or social sharing posts. Meanwhile, cover images or any embedded images don’t appear elsewhere except in the post content area.
To avoid the problem, make sure you’re using featured images instead of cover images. The Featured image section is in the right-hand Settings panel of any post and page. It’s separate from the post content.
In contrast, a Cover block can be inserted directly to the post content by clicking on the + button.
#3 Fix the HTTP Image Upload Error
The HTTP error often occurs during the file uploading process. WordPress will display an “HTTP error” message right under the file name.
There are 2 possible causes for the HTTP error when uploading featured images to WordPress. It could come from the memory limit or image formats.
Once you’ve exceeded the PHP memory limit, WordPress will prevent the required scripts from displaying the featured images. Since the default PHP memory limit is only 32MB, expanding it can solve the issue.
The second possibility could be that your featured images are in the wrong formats. For instance, they exceed the PHP maximum file upload size or have disallowed names.
There are several ways to fix the HTTP issue. We’ve published a step-by-step guide on fixing the HTTP upload error in WordPress. Check it out for more details.
#4 Resolve Theme or Plugin Conflicts
Theme or plugin conflicts are listed as the most common reasons for featured image not showing WordPress.
Different themes have different featured image settings. Some themes automatically block these images and require manual setup to display them. Some other themes can present them in a different spot than what’s expected.
In these cases, we recommend checking your WordPress theme settings or contacting the theme’s support team for assistance.
Plugin conflicts, on the other hand, usually happen because of outdated code. In rare situations, plugins with access to your media library can also lead to WordPress featured images not showing.
Here’s the route to resolve the plugin conflicts:
- Update all the installed plugins on your site and check whether your featured images are showing. If yes, it was probably an error stemming from outdated code.
- If the problem still persists, deactivate all plugins to see whether the featured images are showing up.
- In case the problem disappears, one of your plugins is the root. Reactivate them one by one. After each plugin reactivation, check whether your featured images are properly functioning. Once you’ve detected the cause, uninstall it.
- If deactivating plugins doesn’t fix the issue, reactivate them all and move on to other methods.
You can install the Health Check plugin to detect configuration errors within themes and plugins, and perform troubleshooting.
#5 Disable Lazy Loading
Lazy loading assists you optimize images to enhance your site performance and loading time. It performs by delaying the loading of media files. In other words, an image won’t load until users scroll down to its exact position.
That’s why sometimes a lazy loading plugin can prevent your featured images from showing up or loading quickly.
The first step to address this issue is to find and disable plugins equipped with lazy loading features. After that, clear the cache, and see whether your WordPress featured images are showing.
Don’t want to turn off this functionality? You can disable lazy loading for only the first image of your posts. Some plugins give you the ability to exclude certain photos from being lazy-loaded. Hence, review the plugin’s features carefully or reach out to its support team for assistance.
#6 Modify WordPress Admin Dashboard Settings
Improper WordPress dashboard settings can cause featured images not showing in your post lists or in the WordPress editor. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to deal with this problem.
When the featured images are invisible on your page and post lists, here’s how to fix:
- In your WordPress admin panel, navigate to Posts → All Posts. Now, you’re supposed to see the Featured Image column next to the Date column.
2. If not, chances are that you’ve disabled it. To turn it on, go to the Screen Options tab in the upper right-hand corner.
3. Check the Featured image box to reveal it in the post list.
If you can’t find the Featured image checkbox in Screen Options, your current theme may not support this functionality.
It’s most likely that the code to enable the featured image functionality is missing. To solve this, insert the following code into your theme’s functions.php file:
add_theme_support('post-thumbnails', array( 'post', 'page', 'custom-post-type-name', ));
Reload your dashboard and clear the cache. Then, check to see if the Featured image section appears in your list now.
Another dilemma is when you find the Featured image field for uploading and inserting a featured image is missing. This field locates on any WordPress posts and pages editing screen.
Click Screen Options and mark the Featured image checkbox to reveal it in the post editor.
For those who’re using the newest WordPress version, follow the guide below:
- Click on the three dots ⋮ symbol in the upper right corner and scroll down to locate the Preferences option.
2. In the Panels sub-menu, toggle the Featured image option to on.
#7 Change User Permissions to View Featured Images
By default, there are 6 user roles in WordPress: super admin, administrator, editor, author, contributor, and subscriber. Each role has different permission to read, write, or edit files.
You can’t view featured images if your assigned role doesn’t have permission to access the files. The situation can come in two forms:
- You can’t view the featured images in your WordPress back-end dashboard.
- The featured images are not showing in your front-end interface.
In the former, you need to ask the admin or super admin for access permissions. In case you’re the admin, change the user permissions by taking these steps:
- Go to Users → All Users in your admin panel.
- Select the user you want to edit.
- Scroll down to the Role drop-down menu and pick Editor. The user you’ve assigned to this role can now access the media library. He also can upload, edit, and view all the featured images.
In the second scenario, it’s because you’ve activated a file protection plugin, PDA Gold, for example. This plugin protects your featured images from unauthorized access and view. That’s why standard visitors will see a not-loaded image on the content.
To get rid of this, it’s essential to unprotect the files or grant users the right to view them.
- Open the Media Library in your WordPress admin dashboard.
- Hit the Unprotect button under the desired images.
#8 Remove Duplicate Featured Images
Using one image as both the featured and content image is a mistake that WordPress users usually make. In this case, two same images are stacked on top of each other, leading to a poor visual experience.
You should open the post editor and locate the Featured image section. Then check if it displays the same image as the first image in your content.
You can remove either the featured image or content image to solve the problem. We suggest eliminating the content image to keep your featured image displaying beautifully in the front-end interface.
#9 Adjust Featured Images that Don’t Look Right
You’ve figured out how to set featured images properly in WordPress. Now, it’s time to review your post’s featured image and make sure it always looks right. Some of the most common problems that impact your featured image’s appearance involve improper formats and position, such as:
- The featured image doesn’t show up in the right size.
- It’s out-of-focus, hazy, or stretched.
- It’s displayed in an unexpected location.
Fortunately, these are not difficult situations. WordPress already includes several image editing tools to ensure the featured images always look perfect. Here’s how-to:
Pick the Right Size for Featured Images
There is no recommended dimension for featured images. We suggest using images in 1200 x 628 pixels or 1000 x 450 pixels. This will help your featured images stay beautiful without being blurred or cropped.
Change the Default Featured Image Sizes
Some WordPress themes have their own image size standard. So it’s necessary to check your theme first. If you aren’t using any theme, take these steps to modify the image dimensions via WordPress settings:
- Head over to Settings → Media in your WordPress dashboard.
- Determine the new sizes for your featured images in the Thumbnail size fields.
3. Hit the Save Changes button to finish.
Edit Featured Images in WordPress
WordPress gives you the ability to edit featured images in your posts or pages.
- Open a post and scroll to the Featured image section.
- Select the image and click Edit Image.
3. Now, you can scale, crop, rotate, and flip your image.
4. Press the Save button to save your changes.
Modify Featured Images’ Location
To move the featured image to another location:
- Go to the page or post HTML template file you’re using and search for this code in the file:
2. Cut the code and paste it to the desired place in the page/post template.
Remember to back up your WordPress site before making any adjustments to the code. You’d better make edits to the child themes instead of the core WordPress files.
#10 Fix Featured Image Not Showing on Blog Post Gallery Pages
Sometimes, the featured images of your blogs don’t appear on the post gallery page on your site.
You can utilize third-party post gallery plugins to create a post feed for your site. Consult with the plugin’s developer if the featured images aren’t showing. In this tutorial, we’ll only cover how to fix your featured images using the built-in Gutenberg editor.
- Navigate to Pages → Add New to create a blog gallery page.
- In the Block tab, enable the Display featured image option.
3. Adjust the featured image settings such as size, alignment, and post meta if necessary. Once finished, click Publish.
4. In your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Settings → Reading.
5. Select A static page in the Your homepage displays section and choose the page you’ve created in the Homepage dropdown menu.
6. Hit on Save Changes.
Once you’ve enabled the Display featured image option, WordPress will automatically retrieve featured images from the latest posts. It will leave a blank space if you haven’t assigned a featured image to the post.
You can set up a default featured image for all posts, which we’ll introduce in the coming sections.
#11 Fix WordPress Featured Image Not Showing on Social Media
Besides the post gallery page, featured images also appear when you share your posts on social media platforms.
Facebook & Twitter
In terms of featured image not showing on Facebook and Twitter, you often encounter the following problems:
- There is no featured image showing up.
- Your Facebook sharing post displays the wrong featured image.
- You have to choose one among several images pulled from the post.
These concerns stem from similar reasons. It could be because Facebook is having trouble accessing the open graph data from your website. Or, there’s no open graph data at all. The simplest way to fix it is to install an open graph plugin.
When you paste a post URL in WhatsApp chat, it only fetches the title without a featured image. This is usually caused by an incomplete minify attempt to eliminate unnecessary HTML. If you’re using any minify HTML plugin, disable it and check whether the featured images work.
#12 Install Featured Image Plugins
To ensure the featured image not showing WordPress error never appears on your site, it’s best to install plugins. Numerous WordPress plugins are available to help you edit and optimize your featured images. Let’s glance through a list of some best ones:
Featured Image from URL – Use an external image, video, or audio as featured media of a post or WooCommerce product.
Default Featured Image – Create a default featured image for all of your posts or pages.
Auto Featured Image – Automatically generate featured images from the first images in posts or pages.
Quick Featured Images – Set, replace, and delete featured images in bulk.
Featured Images in RSS for Mailchimp – Send images to RSS instantly for Mailchimp RSS email campaigns, ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, Hubspot, etc.
Featured Image Admin Thumb – Add the featured image column to admin columns on the post list view.
Hide featured image on all single page/post – Hide all featured images of pages and posts when they are viewed in their tab.
Fixing Featured Image Not Showing WordPress with Ease!
Building a stunning website to find that featured images are not shown properly is frustrating. This also potentially hurts your brand.
We’ve introduced 12 ways to fix the featured image not showing WordPress error. With our guide at hand, troubleshooting the error and ensuring the best visual experience will no longer be complicated.
So, let’s get this show on the road!
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