How to Create Your WordPress Image Gallery in Easy Steps

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This guide shows you how to create a WordPress image gallery in easy steps. Images are more captivating than text when it comes to making first impressions. That’s why blog posts with photos and illustrations get more eyeballs than text-only content. Some posts benefit more from picture galleries. Travel blogs, product ranges, and real estate are three of many examples.

Benefits of WordPress Image Galleries

The great thing about WP galleries is that you can easily update and customise them. That includes adding new, removing old, or rearranging the order of photos in a collection. Galleries allow you to display your images in neat, easy-to-scan columns and rows.

Guttenberg’s Image Block

The Guttenberg editor offers an image block, and it’s ideal for adding one or two photos. It’s not the best approach if you need to add lots of images, as they load in vertical form. This format can make a webpage incredibly long, forcing users to scroll down to view each picture. Image blocks let you add photos via Upload, from the WP Media Library, or Insert from URL.

Guttenberg’s Gallery Block

The Guttenberg gallery block uses a grid layout. It can use clickable thumbnails that open larger images in new tabs. Closing an image tab returns the visitor to the WordPress post and gallery. This approach is more attractive, convenient, and enhances the user experience. Gallery blocks let you add photos via Upload, Drag & Drop, and the WP Media Library.

The WordPress built-in gallery is fine for smaller websites and personal bloggers. Commercial websites—and those wanting a more professional look—may find it too restrictive.

7 Benefits of WordPress Gallery Plugins

Have fun with the WP built-in gallery feature if you’re new or experimenting for the first time. Consider plugins with extra features when you want to take your galleries to the next level. There are some excellent free tools, and even more impressive Pro or business options. This isn’t a review guide for gallery plugins, but there are a few suggestions at the bottom of the page.

Here are the main 7 advantages of using WordPress gallery plugins.

  1. Displays photos in striking lightbox galleries
  2. Organise collections in albums and portfolios
  3. Add special filters and image effects to photos
  4. Create videos, podcasts, and Gif galleries
  5. Allow visitors to share galleries to social media
  6. eCommerce integration
  7. Protect images with passwords and watermarks

First, let’s look at how you can create a simple image gallery using WordPress blocks.

Creating Image Galleries Using WP Blocks

Log in to your WordPress Admin Area

You need more than one photo to create an image gallery. Upload some photos to WordPress for your gallery using the Guttenberg Add Image block. Alternatively, use ones already in your Media Library. We’re going to use a collection of colourful fruits for this tutorial.

Go to Post => Add New or open an existing post to work with.

Put the cursor inside the editor where you want to add the gallery.

Clicking the Add Block (+) icon reveals the blocks window.

Click the Gallery Block to open it.

Tip: If you don’t see the gallery block, type gallery into the search box.

Let’s select a few images from the WP Media Library.

Create a new WP gallery from the Media Library

Click the Media Library link in the gallery block to open the ‘Create Gallery’ window.

Click individual images inside the Media Library to select a compilation of photos.

You can enter details for each image in the right-side column or do it later.

Click Create a new gallery (bottom right) when you’re done.

You’re now at the Edit Gallery screen.

Here you can add image captions, reorder the files, delete, or do it all later.

Click Insert gallery (bottom right) when you’re done.

WordPress now adds your new gallery to the post. How it displays may differ slightly between themes. Click Preview => Preview in new tab from the post edit screen (top right side).

Here’s how the sample gallery looks on our demo site.

Click Publish when you’re happy with the post content and its gallery.

Uploading new images for your gallery

You must upload images if the ones you want are not already in the WP Media Library.

Click the Add Block (+) icon inside the post edit screen to reveal the block’s window.

Click the Gallery Block to open it.

Now click the Upload button.

The Open file box appears.

Locate then select the images you want to upload.

Tip: Hold down the CTRL key and click individual images to select them. If you want to choose all images in the location, press CTRL + A to select them all.

Click Open to upload the selected images directly to your post.

The upload may take a while if there are lots of images or large file sizes.

Tip: There are WP plugins that can auto-compress larger images with minimal quality loss. Alternatively, use a browser-based optimisation tool like TinyPNG instead. TinyPNG lets you upload up to 20 images at a time as long as they don’t exceed 5MB each.

New gallery options

The new gallery opens in Edit view until you click away from it. You can move images UP/DOWN, FORWARD/BACK, REPLACE or DELETE. There’s a place under the gallery for a caption. The Upload and Media Library links remain visible should you want to add more images (see below).

Arrange your gallery how you want it to look.

Point to note: There’s no random ON/OFF option to display WP galleries. Think carefully about the image arrangement as it’s the order your gallery loads each time.

Click Preview => Preview in new tab from the post edit screen (top right side).

Tip: Keep the tab open if you plan to edit your gallery. This way, you don’t have to keep opening another tab to view each new tweak.

Here’s how the new gallery looks on our sample site.

That’s a lot more professional than large images stacked one on top of the other.

WordPress built-in gallery restrictions

There are some missing and annoying aspects to WordPress built-in galleries.

None of the images above is clickable by default. You can make all the gallery images clickable by linking them to either the Attachment Page or Media File. Let’s do that.

Click Link to under Gallery Settings from the Block tab (right-side column).

Select Attachment page or Media file from the dropdown menu.

Click Save draft and return to the preview tab.

PRESS F5 to refresh the webpage in the open tab, then click on any image.

Clickable gallery images

All gallery photos are now clickable, and the images open in their own window. That’s better than nothing. Still, it’s not an ideal way to view galleries, especially larger ones. Users must hit the back button to return to the gallery each time they’ve finished viewing an image.

Accessing WordPress image galleries

Unfortunately, there’s no access to image galleries. That’s because WordPress doesn’t save them outside the post or page. It does save the photos you upload for a gallery to its Media library, but not as a gallery. If you want the same gallery in another post, you need to recreate it again from scratch. That’s the second most annoying thing about the WP built-in gallery feature.

It’s for these reasons that many site owners install and activate feature-rich gallery plugins.

5 WordPress Gallery Plugins to Consider

Below are the names and highlights of the current top 5 WordPress gallery plugins.

PLUGIN NAME

FREE

PREMIUM (PRO)

DOWNLOADS

NextGEN Gallery by Imagely

Starts at $19/year

30,000,000+

Photo Gallery by 10web

Starts at $19/year

12,000,000+

Envira Gallery Envira Gallery

Starts at $19/year

2,500,000+

Modula Gallery by WPChill

Starts at $25/year

1,000,000+

FooGallery by FooGallery

Starts at $29/year

Not specified

Let’s look at the FREE features for each of these popular WP gallery plugins.

#1 NextGEN Gallery By Imagely

NextGEN Gallery has been available for WordPress as a plugin since 2007. Its popularity continues as it’s a powerful plugin with a simple drag and drop interface. Content creators with no experience can create professional-looking image galleries in minutes.

The free NextGEN Gallery WP plugin has 4 standout features:

  1. No limit on the number of galleries users can create
  2. 5 free gallery templates
  3. Beginner-friendly, drag and drop interface
  4. 12 powerful gallery tools and features

The free version also offers 2 album types, i.e., Compact and Extended, and 3 gallery styles. The NextGEN Pro version is particularly appealing for photographers and visual artists.

#2 Photo Gallery By 10web

Photo Gallery by 10web is another top-ranking gallery plugin for WordPress. The great thing about the free version is its simplicity. The admin interface is simple to navigate and easy to fathom. Even the raw novice can new create a gallery immediately.

The free Photo Gallery by 10web has 7 standout features:

  1. Free security updates
  2. 5 Gallery/album Views
  3. 3 Gallery widgets
  4. 2 Default themes (non-customisable)
  5. 1 Lightbox
  6. Watermarking
  7. Public forum support

This responsive plugin has something for everyone at any level. Check out the premium versions if you need more controls. They come in three packages, i.e., Basic, Pro, and Bundle.

#3 Photo Gallery by Envira Gallery Team

Envira Gallery Lite is a much-loved free drag & drop gallery plugin. Both free and premium versions are super easy to use at any level. There’s no shortage of video tutorials to help new users get the most out of this exciting plugin.

The free Envira Gallery Lite WP plugin has 5 standout features:

  1. Drag-n-drop simplicity (zero coding)
  2. Basic gallery theme
  3. Basic lightbox
  4. Basic mobile gallery
  5. Import/export (limited)

Envira Photo Gallery Lite is a step up from the built-in WP gallery block. The real power, though, is with Envira Gallery Pro, which has limitless possibilities for customisation. Pro is an ideal choice for serious bloggers, small businesses, web designers and photographers, etc.

#4 Modula Gallery by WPChill

Modula Lite is a grid gallery plugin that’s fast-loading, and mobile responsive. The free version gives you more settings and control than the built-in WordPress gallery. However, it lacks some of the free features offered by other free plugins. It’s still an excellent tool for anyone who wants an improvement on the WP built-in gallery block.

Modula has premium plugins that come in 4 plans:

  1. Starter
  2. Trio
  3. Business
  4. Agency

Modula’s premium versions offer unlimited galleries, images uploads, support, and updates. There are also a plethora of powerful extensions available for each plan.

#5 FooGallery by FooGallery

FooGallery is another simple yet powerful WordPress image gallery plugin with some striking layouts. Its lazy loading feature guarantees lightning-fast displays. That’s especially welcome for extensive collections. Moreover, FooGallery is responsive (mobile friendly), and retina-ready.

The free FooGallery WP plugin has 7 standout features:

  1. Six stunning gallery templates
  2. Super-easy to customise
  3. Drag-n-drop image reordering
  4. Built-in albums (responsive and stack)
  5. Gutenberg-ready
  6. Install gallery widgets
  7. Copy to clipboard shortcodes

There are several other features with the free version. FooGallery premium plans are Personal, Professional, and Business. Consider these if you need more gallery options and control.

Conclusion

You don’t need to be an expert to create a professional image gallery in WordPress. The block editor does what it promises, but consider plugins for more control and added features.

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