I been working with featured images more lately and I been adding them to my posts as I go. However I have a bunch of older posts that do not have the featured image set and I want to use it for such things as wptouch etc.

So I have like 300 posts and to be honest I dont want to go into 300 posts and set the images manually.

IS there anyway either by plugin or code that you can code it where the featured images area will grab the first image in each post?

2 Answers 2


if the image is inserted (attached) into the post and not a external link:

function get_my_thumbnail($post_id, $size, $attr = ''){

  // check of featured image first
  $t = get_post_thumbnail_id($post_id);

  // no featured image set, check post attachments
    $attachments = get_children(array(
      'post_parent'    => $post_id,
      'post_status'    => 'inherit',
      'post_type'      => 'attachment',
      'post_mime_type' => 'image',
      'order'          => 'ASC',
      'orderby'        => 'menu_order ID',
    $attachment = array_shift($attachments); // we only need one
    $t = $attachment ? $attachment->ID : false;

  // no attachments either...
  if(empty($t)) return 'no image...';

  // we have either attachment / featured image, so output the post thumbnail
  do_action('begin_fetch_post_thumbnail_html', $post_id, $t, $size); // compat
  $html = wp_get_attachment_image($t, $size, false, $attr);
  do_action('end_fetch_post_thumbnail_html', $post_id, $t, $size);

  return $html;

You may want to also regenerate all attachment sizes (auto-create $size-d images from your older ones), so you don't get browser-resized huge images...

  • and on another note how do i give rep out for people helpng me out?
    – dclc
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 15:23
  • how does it work with external images? i.e. not external, but residing on the server
    – Toskan
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 13:13
  • Hi @onetrickpony. When I add this code to my theme's functions.php I receive the error PHP Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ')', expecting variable (T_VARIABLE) or '$' in /var/www/vhosts/whitewreath.com/httpdocs/wp-content/themes/stealth-child/functio‌​ns.php on line 34
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 5:21
  • try now, there were some typos in the code Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 7:42
  • Great, thanks @onetrickpony. I've added it to my theme's functions.php. I've also added it to my child theme's archive.php. However, no thumbnails are showing on my post archive page. Please forgive my ignorance, I'm not a developer.
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 13:49

Here is the function:

function catch_that_image() {
global $post, $posts;
$first_img = '';
$output = preg_match_all('/<img.+src=[\'"]([^\'"]+)[\'"].*>/i', $post->post_content, $matches);
$first_img = $matches [1] [0];

// no image found display default image instead
    $first_img = get_bloginfo('template_url')."/images/no_image.gif";
return $first_img;

and Here is how to use it:

$imgURL = catch_that_image(); 
  • yeah my images are not attachments but url links but on the same domain... will the abov e work and exactualy how do i run that code? for the programming unsavy?
    – dclc
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 15:22
  • this lets you extract the img src path. This does not solve OP question
    – Toskan
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 13:12
  • Please attribute the source of this function. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 8:45

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