I have a custom theme that for the latest posts displays the posts thumbnail. What I am looking to do is to check and if there is no thumbnail set then use the category's featured image. I could upload the images and use this:

if (!$photo) :
        $uploads = wp_upload_dir();
        $photo = '<div class="related-content-box__photo" style="background-image: url(' . $uploads['baseurl'] . '/2017/01/' . $category_name . '.jpg' . ')"></div>';

What I don't like about this is that if I want to change one image of a category I have to upload all of them again and change the year/month of the folder.

So I have uploaded the images as featured images for the category themselves but how can I display them?

  • I suggests to use a plugin that adds featured images to taxonomies, including categories, so you can set a relationship between a category and an image and you can work with that relationship programmatically withing your theme. For example this one. Otherwise, I'm not sure what are you asking for.
    – cybmeta
    Jan 4, 2017 at 12:27
  • 1
    How did you upload the images as featured category images? This is not a feature vanilla WordPress would have.
    – Howdy_McGee
    Jan 4, 2017 at 18:49
  • I used the ACF custom field to upload a featured image. Jan 5, 2017 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


The solution I found so far was to add featured image for categories as a custom field using ACF and then using the category ID to find and display each featured image.

Hope it helps anyone :)


If your theme is any good it uses get_the_post_thumbnail to retrieve the featured image. This function has a filter that you can use to detect whether there is a featured images and if not replace it. Like this:

add_filter ('post_thumbnail_html','wpse251260_thumbnail_html', 10, 5)

wpse251260_thumbnail_html ($html, $post_id, $post_thumbnail_id, $size, $attr) {
  if ( '' === $html ) {
    .. do stuff depending on category you retrieve with $post_id;
   return $html
  • Just in case: you can use add_term_meta to add a metabox to the category to set a featured image per category.
    – cjbj
    Jan 4, 2017 at 13:15

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