I am having an issue with my project that requires my media URLs to be unique. I have found that if a media item is uploaded, deleted, and reuploaded with the same name in the same month, then the URL for the media item is the same as the old item.


  1. I upload an item named "pic.jpeg" and the URL is "myserver/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pic.jpeg"
  2. I delete pic.jpeg from the Media Library
  3. I upload a different item named "pic.jpeg" and the URL is "myserver/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pic.jpeg"

I need the second uploaded item to have a different URL from the first, even though it was deleted.

Is there a way I can make media URLs truly unique, by changing the default URL from the "year/mo/name" format to something different?

1 Answer 1


You could certainly change the upload folder structure using an upload_dir filter hook, but I think a more direct solution might be to append some other text to the end of the file name. I think an easy unique string could just be the current timestamp, and encoding it in hexadecimal would make it a little more compact.

I'm not too familiar with WordPress's media APIs, but it looks to me that the wp_handle_upload_prefilter and/or wp_handle_sideload_prefilter filter (depending on how you are performing the upload) would be reasonable place to implement this functionality:

function wpse408625_media_upload_append_ts( $file ) {
  $ext      = substr( $file['name'], strrpos( $file['name'], '.' ) );
  $filename = substr( $file['name'], 0, strlen( $file['name'] ) - strlen( $ext ) );

  $file[ 'name' ] = $filename . '-' . dechex( time() ) . $ext;

  return $file;

add_filter( 'wp_handle_upload_prefilter', 'wpse408625_media_upload_append_ts' );
add_filter( 'wp_handle_sideload_prefilter', 'wpse408625_media_upload_append_ts' );

The above should transform a filename such as pic.jpeg into one like pic-62faeadd.jpeg. As long as you don't manage to upload an image, delete it, then upload another with the same filename all within the span of one second, this should prevent future collisions!

  • This works great for uploading through the Media Library on the web, but I am uploading via the REST API. Do you know of a method for making this work in that situation? Aug 17, 2022 at 17:03
  • @HannahEstes it looks like an upload through the REST API might trigger either wp_handle_upload_prefilter or wp_handle_sideload_prefilter, depending on the specifics of the request. I've added the other to the answer - does that seem to work for your use-case?
    – bosco
    Aug 18, 2022 at 3:24
  • that worked! Thank you for your help Aug 18, 2022 at 21:07

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