As of version 3.5, Wordpress added Quicktags to the media description field witch is an improvement over the simple textarea.

However, I need a full Wysiwyg editor for a project I'm working on. How do I do that?

  • Please split that post into a question and a separate answer. – fuxia Feb 6 '17 at 23:35

This function added to functions.php does exactly that:

// Enables Editor in Media edit screen.
function add_editor_support_for_attachments($settings) {
    if( get_post_type() == 'attachment'){
      $quicktags_settings = array( 'buttons' => 'strong,em,link,block,del,ins,ul,ol,li,code,close' );
      $settings = array(
        'wpautop'       => true,
        'textarea_name' => 'content',
        'textarea_rows' => 10,
        'media_buttons' => false,
        'tinymce' => true,
        'quicktags' => $quicktags_settings,
      return $settings;
add_filter( 'wp_editor_settings', 'add_editor_support_for_attachments' );

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