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I would like to know if it is possible to manually upload images to WordPress (ftp/scp) and make it recognize them and add them to the media browser. This also has to work with Wordpress running in multi-site mode (network).

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I haven't tested this in multi-site but can't see any reason that it wouldn't work. The Add from Server plugin searches for images that you manually upload to WordPress and adds them to the media manager. You can find it here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/add-from-server/ Tested on the latest WordPress.

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Add them meaning copy them? What happens when I change and image on disk, or when I remove it? –  sorin May 29 '11 at 15:00
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If you upload the image files to a directory that is not the same directory you specify in Miscellaneous Settings -> Store uploads in this folder, then the images get copied to the directory you set. If they are in the same folder, they don't get copied again and are just added to the Media Manager. Once the images have been added to the Media Manager any changes you make to them, such as deleting, need to be done through the Media Manager so they are reflected in your media library. –  Elpie May 30 '11 at 7:24

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