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How to: WordPress export posts with images / Import posts with images

Published Categorized as Website Design

Exporting WordPress posts with featured images and all other images included in the posts so that you can import blog posts with all images in tact to a new WordPress install isn’t a particularly common requirement – but when you are faced with moving blog posts from one WordPress website to another the default functionality of WordPress can be found lacking.

The Problem as you may have already discovered is that by default the images aren’t exported with the WordPress posts.

How to export WordPress posts & import posts with images

How To Export Posts From WordPress Using Default WordPress Export Tool

To move posts between WordPress websites is pretty simple, you can use the built-in WordPress Post Export and WordPress Post Import tool.

Under “Tools” you’ll find “Import” and “Export” options – great start.

WordPress Import Export

If you export posts from the current WordPress website WordPress generates an XML file

So far, so good…

Now on to importing the WordPress posts onto the second site…

How To Import WordPress Posts Using Default WordPress Import Tool

You then go to your new WordPress website / live WordPress website and go to Tools > Import

For more detail on exporting and importing WordPress posts, checkout the WordPress Codex for:

You follow the steps and your WordPress posts get imported to your new WordPress website – but the images are missing… (featured images and post images)

Does WordPress Import Posts With featured Images Or Not?

Unfortunately, by default the WordPress Import tool doesn’t import posts with featured images

In fact it doesn’t import WordPress posts with images of any kind by default.

The solution…

Using Export Media With Selected Content To Export Blog Posts With Images

The problem is, the XML file generated when exporting blog posts from WordPress doesn’t include the media*

You therefore need to install a plugin on your existing WordPress website (the WordPress site you’re EXPORTING posts FROM).

The WordPress Plugin is Called “Export media with selected content”

This time, when you Import blog posts to WordPress on the new WordPress website, you’ll also have the media files attached to the blog posts imported to your media library.

That means you can import WordPress posts with featured images attached AND images in the body of the WordPress posts too.


Problems with Exporting & Importing Posts and Pages to and from WordPress

#1 – The theme you’re using doesn’t “attach” the media to your blog posts or pages

You may have noticed when browsing your Media Library in “list” view that there’s a column called “uploaded to”

This determines whether the image in the media library is actually “attached” to the page or blog post it’s inserted into.

Some themes don’t follow this practice and as a result, when you Export blog posts from WordPress EVEN when using the above plugin to Export images with blog posts in WordPress – the images won’t come with the posts.

You can “Manually” attach the images to your posts – but this is actually quite a bit of manual work…

It might actually be worth switching themes to gain the functionality – go through and re-save each post and the images SHOULD now be attached. (A default WordPress theme will do the trick)

#2 – The site you’ve Exported Posts & Images from isn’t live / accessible via the web at the point you’re importing the posts into the new site

OK, so there was an asterisk above when I said that the WordPress Exporter exports the images with the posts. It actually only exports a file location.

The importer then goes to that file location (accessible via the web), downloads the file and uploads it to your media library (the exact technicalities of how it works are unimportant, that’s a bit of simplification).

This means that if you’ve:

  • Exported WordPress Posts “with images” from a “development site” or some temporary website
  • Then taken down the “development site”
  • Then later Imported WordPress Posts “with images” to the “Live site”
  • The Importer won’t be able to access the images that you’d originally “exported” as you only exported a file location

This is common when working on building a new website and then switching the DNS A records to switch one site “off” whilst making the new site live.

It is possible to build a new WordPress site while the old site is live – which I covered in this article explaining the process of building a new WordPress website while the old site was live.

Export posts from WordPress with images with ease!

Hopefully this guide has provided with the information you need to export posts from WordPress WITH images with ease. Remember, the default exporter and importer won’t export images with the blog posts from WordPress – you’ll need to use a plugin.


How do I export images from WordPress content?

If you’re just looking for how to export the media library from WordPress – this is a standard function of WordPress.

Simply go to Tools > Export and then select “media” from the list of radio buttons

This actually creates an “xml” file

This is a “text based” file which lists out all of the current URLs of the media in your library.

Then when you use this file to “Import the media library into WordPress” the system will go and “fetch” the images from that URL.

So for this approach to work, the media library of the site you’re exporting the images from needs to be accessible whilst you run the WordPress Media Import on the second site.
So in essence, this isn’t a method of downloading all files from the media library in WordPress.

How do I download images from WordPress in bulk?

If you’re trying to download the image files from your WordPress site, the best approach is to login to your cPanel or hosting account and locate the “Uploads” folder under “wp-content”

Then in the uploads folder you can download each of the images, or download folder by folder – or download the whole uploads folder if you like.

How do I upload bulk images to WordPress?

It’s also possible to move the uploads folder from one WordPress website to another WordPress site by simply copying and pasting, or uploading the “uploads” folder (or contents of it) to your uploads folder in your new WordPress site.

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By Ashley Pearce

I'm the founder of Future State Media, a "small-on-purpose" creator-focused SEO agency skilled in helping creators systematically generate traffic, build audiences and maximise their monetisation whilst staying true to their brand.