I like my clients to simply throw their images into the WordPress editor while the script of my custom theme handles everything else. Be it a gallery, a carousel or whatever. So instead of using plugins I usually let them wrap the images into a shortcode. Like this: [images] Image 1, Image 2, ... [/images]

On the code side this means that I have to get rid of the standard WordPress output (which isn't a problem) and to retrieve the IDs of the images instead. Once I retrieved the IDs I can generate any other output easily. This is how I retrieve the desired IDs:

function register_shortcodes() {
  add_shortcode( 'images', 'get_image_data' );

function get_image_data( $atts, $image_data_input = null ) {

  * Find CSS classes generated by WordPress (like 'wp-image-36')
  * and store them into array $image_classes
  preg_match_all( '/wp-image-[0123456789]*/', $image_data_input, $image_classes );

  /* Loop through array $image_classes */
  $n = 0;
  foreach ( $image_classes[0] as $image_class ) {

    /* Crop class names to ID only */
    $image_id = substr( $image_class, 9 );

    /*  Retrieve image metadata by ID, store ID into array $images */
    $images[$n]['id'] = $image_id;


  * Loop through array $images and generate $image_data_output
  * by adding the desired values
  $image_data_output = '';

  foreach ( $images as $single_image ) {
    $image_data_output .= $single_image['id'] . ', ';

  return ( $image_data_output );

So here's my question: My code works fine, but is there a better way to retrieve the IDs only for my shortcode content (instead of all media attached to the post)? I consider searching for CSS classes to crop them into their IDs the very definition of a workaround but I'm unable to find a smarter way.

1 Answer 1


I created a function to retrieve attachment id from it's src, might work in your case scenario as well

function get_attachment_id_from_src ($image_src) {
    global $wpdb;
    $id = $wpdb->get_var('SELECT ID FROM '.$wpdb->posts.' WHERE guid="'.$image_src.'"');    
    return $id; 
  • Hm, maybe it's me but I don't see this working in my case. The input into $image_src would be something messy like <p>[caption id="attachment_36" align="alignnone" width="1024"]<img class="size-large wp-image-36" src="http://... and so on. I could extract the src with preg_match beforehand, but in this case I'd do pretty much the same thing as before: preg_matching myself through HTML code in order to extract lower level information.
    – Nico
    Sep 26, 2017 at 13:00

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