I'm using a lot of thumbnails but never the original file. To save space, I'd like to prevent the original from being saved on disk but only keep a thumbnail of 100px. How can I do this?

Thanks, Dennis

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    could it be an idea perhaps to not upload large images in the first place? – user2015 Jun 22 '11 at 15:28
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    Not an option as the submissions are crowd sourced :) – FLX Jun 23 '11 at 14:03
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    Would a cron script that goes through and periodically deletes the originals be an option? – Joshua Aug 2 '11 at 21:07
  • please see my answer to the same question wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/17719/… – Cristian Aug 3 '11 at 8:38
  • If you already have some images and discover this later, use this extension: wordpress.org/plugins/regenerate-thumbnails It calls the hook used in the answers by Cristian and SimonSimCity – SimonSimCity Sep 25 '13 at 11:10
add_filter( 'wp_generate_attachment_metadata', 'delete_fullsize_image' );
function delete_fullsize_image( $metadata )
    $upload_dir = wp_upload_dir();
    $full_image_path = trailingslashit( $upload_dir['basedir'] ) . $metadata['file'];
    $deleted = unlink( $full_image_path );

    return $metadata;
  • Awesome, it works! The only (minor) problem I have is that when I look at the Media Library it doesn't show images as the full images has (obviously) been deleted. Is there a way to set the thumbnail as the Media Library Icon? Example: i.imgur.com/koijq.png (top is using your method, bottom is the original without deletion) – FLX Aug 6 '11 at 14:19
  • If you try a cmd refresh I thought WP was clever enough to use another version. I used this method a while ago so can't remember. I'd have to play around with it. Sorry I dont have a direct answer now! – Cristian Aug 6 '11 at 17:12
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    If this is 'just' about deleting those giant 16 MPix images end-end-users might upload, another version might be to copy a somewhat small thumbnail into the full former name. That way, still the space is 95%ish saved, no one can access the fullres (since it's gone), yet Media Library showing will still work... (?) – Frank Nocke Nov 23 '12 at 14:46

I foud another solution in the web. It's based on the one accepted here, but it takes it even further.

The one, accepted here, removes the main-image and goes on. The solution I found replaces the original image by the image generated for "large". It just goes on without replacing if this image-resolution is not defined.

This way it is ensured that every script, relying on the original image, will still work as before - for example the thumnail regeneration.



@dalbaeb pointed me to an issue written in the comments on the blog-post. I rewrote the code based on the API instead of the solution provided there. It's not that much of a difference, but just to use the same function calls as in the API ;)

function replace_uploaded_image($image_data) {
    // if there is no large image : return
    if (!isset($image_data['sizes']['large'])) return $image_data;

    // paths to the uploaded image and the large image
    $upload_dir = wp_upload_dir();
    $uploaded_image_location = $upload_dir['basedir'] . '/' .$image_data['file'];
    $large_image_filename = $image_data['sizes']['large']['file'];

    // Do what wordpress does in image_downsize() ... just replace the filenames ;)
    $image_basename = wp_basename($uploaded_image_location);
    $large_image_location = str_replace($image_basename, $large_image_filename, $uploaded_image_location);

    // delete the uploaded image

    // rename the large image
    rename($large_image_location, $uploaded_image_location);

    // update image metadata and return them
    $image_data['width'] = $image_data['sizes']['large']['width'];
    $image_data['height'] = $image_data['sizes']['large']['height'];

    // Check if other size-configurations link to the large-file
    foreach($image_data['sizes'] as $size => $sizeData) {
        if ($sizeData['file'] === $large_image_filename)

    return $image_data;
add_filter('wp_generate_attachment_metadata', 'replace_uploaded_image');


I had a problem with the code on one client where another size-configuration linked to the large-file. I updated the code accordingly. If you have any kind of problems with it, drop me a mail.

  • Thanks for posting an alternative! Although 1) the solution appears to be buggy as per the comments after the article; and 2) it's always good to post the code directly in the answer, as the linked article could always disappear. – montrealist Apr 5 '13 at 18:21
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    Thanks for the hint, @dalbaeb. I've updated my comment accordingly. – SimonSimCity Apr 5 '13 at 19:14

I just created a plugin because I had the same problem. You can download it from here

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