Why and How to Lazy Load Images in WordPress

Nobody can deny the importance of visual content on websites. Just imagine your WordPress site without any marketing banners, product images, blog photos. Not only does it affect the user experience but it also decreases your website ranking.

The thing is that displaying too many images and videos on your site, especially the large-sized ones, will influence your page speed. You must optimize these files to reduce your page size and, at the same time, deliver the best experience to users.

Besides common ways to optimize images such as using CDN or compressing images, have you ever heard of lazy load images? WordPress experts consider it as one of the easiest and most effective image optimization solutions.

What is WordPress lazy load image and how does it work? Why do you need lazy load images? And how to lazy-load images in WordPress? We’ll answer all these questions.

What Is Lazy Load and How Does It Work?

WordPress lazy load refers to a technique that delays the loading of media files until users scroll down to the specific position of that image or video. This means that, instead of loading all images on a page at once, it shows files above the fold only. The images that haven’t been loaded yet will be replaced with a placeholder or blank space.

Since the release of WordPress 5.5, the platform has built lazy loading as a default feature. To explain how this function works, WordPress adds the tag loading=”lazy” to all img tags (image tags) that include width and height attributes.

Still, you can customize the native image lazy loading or the ​​lazy load background with the help of plugins.

Why Your Should Lazy Loads Images in WordPress

You have multiple reasons for delaying WordPress image loads. First and foremost, it helps boost website speed which leads to better website performance. This method greatly improves the user experience on your site too.

Optimize WordPress Site Loading Time

Slow websites frustrate users, even the most patient visitors. It’s estimated that about 40% of users will leave your site if it makes them wait for more than 3 seconds. And images significantly contribute to your page speed.

Fortunately, lazy-loading images cut off the weight of your webpage resulting in quicker page load. Rather than taking time loading the entire page with all images, it just shows images when users scroll down to a certain page area. So visitors can access your site content faster.

Reduce Website Bandwidth

Anytime users load your page, it sends a bandwidth request to your server. As normal, when users open a page, it will deliver the entire page content to them even though they just scroll down to the middle of your page. This wastes a lot of your resources.

WordPress lazy load helps optimize resources and save your hosting cost by just requesting bandwidth of the loaded content.

Improve User Experience

It takes time to have all photos load and show up on your content. As a consequence, this issue messes up your page layout. Lazy load image allows you to offer a better experience for users by displaying content and images at the same time.

How to Lazy Load Image Using WP Rocket Lazy Load Plugin

Over 100 thousand WordPress site owners trust the Lazy Load plugin from WP Rocket to lazy load their images. As the name suggests, the plugin lets you showcase images when users scroll down. Apart from images in post content, it supports lazy loading thumbnails and files in widgets and iframes.

Setting up and getting started with Lazy Load is as easy as pie. All you need to do is install the plugin then enable a few features. The guide below will give you the details.

  1. Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and open PluginsAdd New
  2. Type ‘lazy load’ in the keyword box
  3. Install and activate the plugin and you see a new Lazy Load section added to your WordPress Settings section
  4. Check on the files types that you want to lazy load
  5. Save your chances

You can lazy load images, iframes, and videos as well as replacing the YouTube videos with a preview thumbnail for free. In case you need more features to improve your site loading time along with SEO, go for its Premium version.

How to Lazy Load Your PDF Viewers

Besides images, it’s necessary to lazy load PDF files embedded to your WordPress posts too. Watermark WordPress Files should be a smart choice in this case.

The plugin primarily helps watermark PDF files on your WordPress site, export WordPress posts to PDFs, as well as embed PDF files to your content. It proves a great assistant in lazy loading your PDF viewers. You can stop PDF viewers from being loaded until users scroll near them.

The plugin makes it easy for you to set up and start using. Follow the 3 step guide below and you can lazy load your PDF files.

  1. Download, install, and activate the Watermark WordPress Files
  2. Open the plugin Settings page
  3. Turn on the Enable Lazy Loading option on the General settings page

That’s it! All you need to do now is embed your file to the content by going to Posts → Edit your desired post → Press the PDF viewer icon on your toolbar → Choose your file.


Disable WordPress Lazy Load

As mentioned, WordPress has said “yes” to lazy loading images since its 5.5 version. However, there are plugins supporting this feature and this may cause conflicts.

You can easily disable lazy loading images in WordPress by adding a line of code in the functions.php file of your child theme. All you need to do is:

  1. Go to AppearanceTheme Editor in your admin dashboard
  2. Open the ‘functions.php’ file in your Theme File menu
  3. Copy this code and paste it there
    add_filter( 'wp_lazy_loading_enabled', '__return_false' );
  4. Save your changes

That’s it! You now can disable the default lazy load image feature by WordPress.

Bonus Tips: Protect WordPress Images

Apart from lazy loading, there are many other things you can do to make use of your WordPress images. One of them includes securing private or premium images. It sounds strange as most of us want our images/photos to be visible to as many visitors as possible.

WordPress image protection best serves photographers selling their works of art, digital product (ebook) sellers, and video course producers. Your intellectual products shouldn’t be easily accessible to the public without payment or membership subscriptions.

PDA Gold comes as an ideal solution for effortlessly securing unlimited WordPress media files, from images to audio and videos. Once protected, unauthorized users won’t be able to view your files via direct URLs or find them on search results. Only specific users or user roles have permission to open them.

Instead, you can create quick access links to grant users access to your private images. This link will expire after a specific date or a number of downloads, depending on your settings.

To protect your WordPress files with the PDA Gold plugin, you first install it then go to the Media Library in your admin dashboard. Now find your desired image to secure and click ‘Protect’ under its name.


Hit ‘Configure file protection’ option of the protected file and you’ll see a Private File Management Popup. Here you can either auto-generate new random quick access links or customize your own manually.

The popup shows all elements of your protected file. They are private download links, status, the total number of clicks, download limit, download expiry, created time. Besides, there are options to edit, copy, expire, and delete each link.

It’s possible for you to protect multiple files at a time using a bulk action. Simply go back to the Media Library and check on files that you intend to protect. After that click on the Bulk actions dropdown, select ‘Protect files’, and press Apply.


All the selected files become private now. You can go to the manage popup of each file to manage their private download links.

Lazy Load and Protect WordPress Images, Why Not?

It’s of significance to lazy load WordPress images to speed up your site, save bandwidth, and improve the user experience. WordPress already offers you a built-in feature to lazy load your images automatically. You can still use a plugin to take the lazy load function to the next level.

We’ve guided you through how to use the Lazy Load plugin from WP Rocket to lazy load your post images, thumbnails, and files in widgets. If you plan to disable the default lazy load feature to avoid conflicts, simply add a line of code to your functions.php file.

We’ve also recommended you protect your private, hard-to-produce, or premium WordPress images to prevent illegal uses. The PDA Gold plugin turns out to be the pioneer and perfect solution in this niche.

What are you waiting for? Lazy load and protect your WordPress images now!