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External URL Link as Featured Images

The plugin has been updated with an additional option. It allows you to set your post thumbnail (featured image) from an external URL without uploading the image to your WordPress media library.

Link 2 Featured Image
Easy Host External Images as your own Featured Images. Save bandwidth by having your featured images stored on externally managed sites. Makes adding images a breeze.

Note this only works if your theme uses the get_the_post_thumbnail(); function in its coding. The plugin now has two options:-

  1. Set featured image from external URL – uses a filter to replace the output of get_the_post_thumbnail (may not work in all themes that write their own function for displaying post thumbnails). The file remains on the external server location.
  2. Upload image from external URL and set as featured image. This uploads the external image to your media library and attaches it to your post as the featured image (this may be better for display if linking to large images as they will be crunched by the WordPress image crunching routine). The file will be copied and stored on your own server.

Depending on your theme design and image display preference you can choose which one you wish to use through the use of this plugin.


There’s one thing that has been bugging me for a while about WordPress and the featured images / post thumbnail functionality. What’s that one thing? It’s how you cannot easily set a featured image from an external URL.

Featured image from URL

WordPress only allows you to set the featured image of a post (or custom post / page etc) as an item that is already in your media library. So if you see a cool image that you’d like to use. You have to save it, upload it, then insert it. A bit of a pain to do.

Why don’t they allow you to do this? Well because the post thumbnails used by WordPress goes through a fair bit of processing and they display them as 150×150 images (rather than massive 10MB images if you were to simply use an external URL of a large image).

I decided to do something about this. I read through all the WordPress codex and through the “core” code of the popular CMS platform and I have developed a nice and easy plugin that lets you set your posts “featured image” by URL. I thought it would be useful to share. So I’ve put it up on the store for a nice low price.

Link 2 Featured Image
Easy Host External Images as your own Featured Images. Save bandwidth by having your featured images stored on externally managed sites. Makes adding images a breeze.

Why am I selling this? Well all EPIC plugins are so valuable that they deserve a price tag. This price tag is so low, that’s it’s almost like saying. Hey Mike that’s cool, let me buy you a cup of coffee so you can carry on making these EPIC plugins.

What’s a quick cup of coffee in return for something that can save you endless hours of time in your future blogging / website management. I say… priceless!

So How does it work?

  • A new meta box is added to your post pages (you can move this anywhere you like)
  • Enter the link to the external image you’d like as the featured image (make sure you have permission to use the images)
  • Click update
    • This prompts WordPress to look at the URL
    • If it’s an image it will add it to your media library and crunch it
    • It will then set the image as your posts featured image
  • You’ll then feel all EPIC because you’ve just saved yourself a TON of time

It’s really that easy!


This plugin is now used to make posting images and new posts even easier. I have developed a Chrome Extension which lets you post new images by right clicking an image. It also lets you create new posts straight from your browser (requires Google Chrome). More details available on the Chrome store.


25 Comments so far:

  1. Joseph says:

    I purchased the plugin, can I dowload this updsted version for free?

  2. James says:

    Will this actually allow me to feature an image hosted on imgur? I mean it’s not grabbing an image and adding it to my media library is it? I don’t want to pay 10 bucks only to find out it’s simply downloading the image and placing it in my media library using my own host.

    Reason I ask is because I want to use 5mb gifs as featured images and hosting them on my low end host will not cut it.


  3. James says:

    Can I just paypal you the money so I can get to using this plugin?


  4. James says:

    It is? Where? I dont see a paypal option.

  5. James says:

    Here is a screenshot of what I see http://prntscr.com/2zdw2c

    Am I about to feel really stupid or is it really not there?

  6. James says:

    Thanks. Just bought it and it works but it does not scale down the images as needed on the index page like it does with standard images. Is there a way we can make it do that to follow suit with the other images?

  7. James says:

    Nah, I knew I was taking a risk on this plugin and I knew my chances were slim it would work perfectly. It does what it’s supposed to do but having to edit code and change themes or upload “smaller” images for 1 plugin is not ethical and a pure waste of time.

    • James says:

      The funny thing is, I am using a default wordpress theme too. Twentyfourteen. The featured post images do not show up properly. Have you even tested this?

  8. Aria says:

    This plugin will auto upload image from external url to library ?,could i use image from external url as thumb ( for save bandwidth ?),or could you make a plugin like this,i just want to use image from external host like imgur.com,postimage.org,not from my host,for saving hdd and bandwidth..
    tks and sr for my bad english

    I bought the plugin, I’m using it on my blog. I would just take a doubt, because when I send the link to the social networks, it does not insert the image “feature”, but simply a standard image blog, why?

  10. Rupert says:

    Hi Mike
    i have purchased the plugin, but i dont have any download link. can you help me?

    • Mike says:

      Emailed a new link – the download link is provided on the thank-you page after purchase as well as emailed to your email.


  11. Raider says:


    Does it work with any post types ?


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