Categories and Tags for WordPress Media Library

Categories and tags are default WordPress taxonomies that you can find in the right sidebar. They play important roles in organizing post types of your website as well as SEO. These taxonomies are effective tools to manage the Media Library of your website.

In this article, we’ll discuss the function of WordPress Media Library categories and tags, their significance, and how to use them.

But first, let’s find out briefly about categories and tags in WordPress.

What is Category in WordPress?

In short, categories are used to group content on a WordPress website. Categories support users to sort and group posts into different topics. For example, a magazine website can have distinguished categories for their articles filed under Stars, Beauty, Sport, or Politics.

Categories help visitors navigate the site faster to know what main topics your website has. Each category will have a name, slug, optional parent category/ subcategory, and description.

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What is a Tag in WordPress?

Simply, tags describe your posts in more detail by identifying the content of your posts with some specific keywords. You can use multiple tags for a single post. For instance, if your article is about minimalist living, you might want to add the following tags: method, minimalist, lifestyle… Normally, when reading all tags together, visitors will easily sum up the idea of the post.

The Importance of Adding Categories and Tags to WordPress Media Library

If you upload your files to the Media Library, they will be archived as attachments. Attachment is a post type thus each can have its own Media Library categories and tags, which help you search and reach the desired files easily. Especially when images are the core part of your website content, you need to organize these images to reduce the burden for users in search work.

Moreover, during the process of adding WordPress Media Library categories and tags, you can determine irrelevant media files and delete them. They’re probably the images of products you stopped selling or the banners of expired promotion. Thanks to that, you end up increasing the disk space and decreasing the burden of your servers which partly makes the website load faster.

How to Add Categories and Tags to WordPress Media Library

Due to the importance of using categories and tags, we go over two ways – non-plugin and plugins to help you arrange your Media Library better. Let’s dive in.

Non-plugin solutions: Add code to functions.php File

For this option, you need to add a few lines of code to your functions.php file. You can open the functions.php file by choosing Appearance → Editor in your admin panel. The file is on the right side of the Editor.

Add the following code to the end of the file to add categories to your attachment:

// apply categories to attachments

function add_media_cats() {






add_action( 'init' , 'add_media_cats' );

With adding tags, put the following code to the end of your functions.php file:

// apply tags to attachments

function add_media_tags() {






add_action( 'init' , 'add_media_tags' );

Using plugins to add categories and tags to media library easily

Here are 3 popular WordPress plugins that give you an out-of-the-box solution to work with categories and tags and build your WordPress Media Library like a gallery.

Media Library Assistant

This plugin provides a variety of features to improve your WordPress Media Library search and better organization through categories, tags, and custom taxonomies. Media Library Assistant plugin supports you to display, sort, and order media files by using shortcodes. The strength of this plugin is the enhanced search feature that allows you to search by using “alt” text, the image slug, or caption fields.

However, the interface of this plugin is a little bit outdated. For website owners who have a great number of images and media files, it is not recommended to use this plugin because it’s organizational feature is not convenient enough. Since the plugin is free, it’s worth a try.

File Bird – WordPress Media Library Folders & File Manager

File Bird is a great plugin that supports you to organize the Media Library efficiently and helps save you tons of time. You can create, rename, or delete folders in the Media Library with ease. The technique behind this plugin is to create virtual folders to consist of WordPress Media Library and setting taxonomies while keeping all your files unbroken.

The following are its outstanding features:

  • Friendly user interface: drag and drop to upload, move, and arrange files and folders
  • Smart context menu: right-click to do multiple actions
  • Many file types supported
  • Compatibility: to be compatible with popular WordPress page builders, themes and plugins
  • Multiple languages support
  • Full control in one Toolbar: find all important options in the toolbar on the left side

Nevertheless, this plugin may slow down your website, which leads to a bad user experience. You can test its free version which offers up to 10 folders.

Folders – Organize Media Library Folders, Pages, Posts, and Media Categories with Drag & Drop

The Folder plugin has a simple drag & drop interface that enables you to set up your WordPress Media Library in minutes. You’re are able to change the font color and size of your media folders as well as utilize these additional features:

  • Mark certain folders as important
  • Bulk select and delete photos
  • Add and cut out folder menu from pages, posts, and media files
  • Reduce the folder area to have extra space

Like the first 2 plugins, the Folder plugin has some drawbacks. With more than 5000 uploads needing to arrange, this plugin has an unstable performance. It is not favorable for WooCommerce users and its integration for custom post types is very simple.

Protect Media Library File Uploads with Prevent Direct Access Gold

You’ve spent hours rearranging your WordPress Media Library and you want to protect all of your uploads. Even though you set up membership and passwords, whenever users enter related keywords on Google or have file URLs, they’ll find and access the files without obstacles.

However, security problems can be solved by Prevent Direct Access (PDA) Gold. With PDA Gold, you no longer have a headache when trying to find ways to protect your uploads. PDA Gold restricts protected file access, blocks Google from indexing files, creates and expires download links. To understand more how PDA Gold prevents your files from being leaked, take a look at the article “How to protect WordPress Media Library”.

Reorganize and Protect Your Media Files Effectively

If you have a lot of media files on your site, Media Library categories and tags for attachments are a must-have tool. By modifying code in the functions.php file or installing suitable plugins, you can easily have WordPress Media Library categories and tags.

To protect all your files in the Media Library, PDA Gold is a great tool for you. The plugin not only protects your files comprehensively but also keeps the search engines away from indexing your precious files.

If you have any ideas about Media Library categories and tags, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below