Need to update 1,000+ images which have French characters in them.

The following worked for a test post:

  • Created a copy of the image without the FR characters
  • Updated file name inside the blog post's body using wp_update_post (WP function)
  • Updated 'attachment meta data' using wp_update_attachment_metadata (WP function)
  • Updated 'attached file' using update_attached_file (WP function)

It looks like I can just skip the:

  • Updated 'attachment meta data' using wp_update_attachment_metadata (WP function)
  • Updated 'attached file' using update_attached_file (WP function)

and just change the post content so it references the new images using the following code:

// Array used to update the post
$my_post = array(
  'ID' => $post_ID,
  'post_content' => $content_with_updated_file_name

// Update post content using the array above
wp_update_post( $my_post, true );
if (is_wp_error($post_ID)) {
    $errors = $post_ID->get_error_messages();
    foreach ($errors as $error) {
        echo $error;

Is that the right way or should I keep updating the 'attachment meta data' and 'attached file' for every image I'm renaming?

3 Answers 3


Well all depends und your use case - can the renaming be done in bulk using regex? then go and apply the same regex to the Database, by e.g using http://wp-cli.org/commands/search-replace/

If you need to do it manually maybe take a look at https://wordpress.org/plugins/media-file-renamer/

Good Luck!


I presume you used a script to rename 1000+ images, so you could probably apply your same rules to a MySQL update query on the wp_postmeta and wp_posts tables using a REGEX or a series of REPLACE() statements.

You can do this with a SQL GUI tool, in phpMyAdmin or using WP CLI

Saves messing about with Wordpress functions.


An other solution can be use this plugin: Phoenix Media Rename (Warning, it's not working with wpml)

This plugin do not allow to make a bulk action to slugify all files.

But there is a trick that you can do:

  • After installing and activating the plugin, go to the media library
  • Select the display in "list" mode and display 999 items per pages
  • Open the javascript console
  • Paste a "slugify" function in the console, for example the contents of this file (slugifyjs)
  1. Then execute a jQuery function to modify all input content of phoenix media rename
jQuery('.phoenix-media-rename input').each(function($){
    let filename = $(this).val();
    filename = slugify(filename).toLowerCase()
  • Finally check all checkbox and select "rename" in bulk action dropdown and click on apply
  • Wait for all media to display a checkmark

note: it is possible that this operation returns an error of type "PHP Fatal error: Allowed memory size...". If this is the case, try to see with your web host if it is possible to temporarily increase the memory allocated to PHP.

  • You saved me! I needed to remove whitespace from many uploaded pictures and found myself in veru desperate situation... Commented May 6, 2021 at 15:20

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