Giving good names to your pictures and medias could mean great advantages:

  • From your personal organization point of view, it’s much easier to navigate, especially when your media library counts more than a hundred files.
  • The effect on SEO should be effective. Let’s make the work of search engines easier to gain visibility.
  • Finally the website gains in accessibility, the ALT descriptions, which can automatically be created in relation to the title of the media, become meaningful. For example instead of reading an abstract and useless filename as “PIC30945.jpg” we can read to an easily understandable “photo-ramen-vegan-july-2019.jpg.”

Naming a file : best practices ?

I will not focus on how to think of a good file nomenclature, it probably deserves a full-fledged article.
I want to remind you about some best practices (from August 2020, because good practices are changing, and what is the best today may be less useful tomorrow)

  • For compatibility and reading reasons, you should not use any special characters,  spaces, or punctuation…
    Just letters, numbers and “-“.
  • Let’s ban the usage of capital letters (some OS are interpreting my-image.jpg and My-Image.jpg as two different files, some others interpret it as a single file, so there is high possibility to have problem when exchanging those files)
  • Use the “-” minus sign instead of the traditional “_” underscore. I know, I know… you grew up using the “_” underscore for space, and I know you prefer it… but I read “-” tends to be more aesthetic, and simpler for search engines.
  • We have a 260 characters file name limit on Windows 10 but the goal is to keep it as short and precise as possible.
    It will relieve the server requests, especially in case of renaming hundreds of files at once.
  • Working a lot with Japanese sites, I still have an unanswered question of the use of kanjis in the filename… (and I think it may be the same for every non roman letter alphabets) Should we consider them as special characters ? Even if I found more and more website url with kanji, these characters are still often visible as ASCII code in some address bars, so it’s not directly readable for human.
    For example the word “写真”,
    become the crypted “%E5%86%99%E7%9C%9F”,
    so I would prefer to write the transliterated romaji version – “shashin”
    or even the translation “photo”. If anybody got the best practice about it, I would like to know what to do.

1. Renaming your Media Library files.

Caution :

I’m writing my experience as it is for a specific web configuration (Lightsail), a specific WordPress version (5.5), and with a specific theme (Avada 7.2). I’m not affiliated with any company or plugin quoted in this article.
I’m just sharing my experience, and you have to understand that I will not be responsible of any problem resulting of the installation of one of these plugins, or misreading of this article. I don’t help, do consulting or answer to complicated questions for free. Thank you for your understanding.

Let’s enter in the main part of this article. I have tested 3 differents plugins about Media Renaming:

Two KO

Media File Renamer (Auto & Manual Rename) 

Except the really cute plugin icon, I did not get a chance to enjoy the plugin.
On 20th of August 2020, it didn’t work for me. A persistant API Rest Error. I search one long hour how to solve this error, but nothing work for me now. It maybe because of the recent 5.5 WordPress update, maybe my Lightsail installation…
Because I could easily found other plugins to try I didn’t ask help to the developper. I’m quite sure it will be solved with an update.

Phoenix Media Rename 

I installed it, enter in my media library, try to rename files, and… nothing change.
After my fail with the previous plugin, I thought it was related to the same API Rest error

One OK!

Except the bad surprise of a huge avada bug, this one finally work exactly as I expected it !
As you can see in the first screenshot of the plugin, or in my video it’s really easy to use.

  1. If you are using Avada, first, EXPORT AND SAVE YOUR THEME SETTINGS. Really , do it…  
    The plugin has a big bug and just after renaming my files, my Avada theme lost all of its CSS and General Options.
    And whether or not you are using Avada, DO A FULL BACKUP (Database + Files) OF YOUR WORDPRESS installation, every time before big changes, updates or technical interventions… You will never regret the time spend to do a full snapshot VS the time wasted to rebuilt your articles, pages and CSS in case of problem.
  2. Install the plugin and activate it.
  3. Go to your Media Library, you will see 2 new texts fields, filename and slug.
  4. Enter your new file names, you will quickly see that every forbidden characters, space and others are not possible to be entred in these fields. The Space is automatically replaced by a “-” (and “_” underscore is not possible to write either).
  5. Once you have changed every name , Bulk select or Check the files you have renamed, go to the Bulk edition and select “Update Selected Files”. Click on “Apply”. Wait…
  6. Once the button “Apply” go back to blue, you can refresh your page, and see all of your files names changed.
  7. If you are using Avada, check your theme… if everything back to zero, just update the file you have saved at step 1.

2/ Updating Title, Description and ALT fields automatically.

The second step is not mandatory, but because your files names are now probably more detailed and meaningful than the previous media titles, we have to look for a plug-in that can bulk edit the title, description and ALT fields. I easily found this one :

  1. Install the plugin and activate it.
  2. Go to the second tab of the plugin settings
  3. Make a test file and check if everything is ok : the-title-of-the-picture.jpg will become “the title of the picture” in one click. And media description/ ALT field will follow the same name.
  4. It’s finished… Enjoy!

You have cleaned all of your media library file names,
if life was a video game, a success/ achievement window should have pop on your screen right now !
You can be proud of you 🙂