I using the built-in gallery in wordpress to store and sort images inside a custom post type. In the theme I was using:

$attachments = get_posts(
                 array('post_type' => 'attachment',
                       'post_parent' => $post->ID,
                       'orderby' => 'menu_order'

The above code returns the gallery images correctly, but in the wrong order. When I look at the content field for the post containing the gallery, it contains the gallery data:

[gallery ids="2,5,7,8"]

So, my guess is that the built-in gallery doesn't store the sorting in a separate field like menu_order instead it stores a sorted list of attachment ids in the content field of the parent post.

So my question is what would be the best way to get the gallery images sorted correctly from the theme?

I tried something like:

$matches = array();
if(preg_match('/ids="(.*)"/', $post->post_content, $matches)) {
    $ids = $matches[1];

    $query = "SELECT * FROM $wpdb->posts ".
             "WHERE post_type = 'attachment' &&
                    post_parent = $post->ID ".
             "ORDER BY FIELD(ID, $ids)";
    $attachments = $wpdb->get_results($query);

This seems to work but is there a cleaner way of doing this.

1 Answer 1


You are correct.

The menu_order is no longer used for media in the gallery. Not sure if this is by design or an oversight. Could be by design since you can now include media in a gallery even if it is not "attached" to the page/post. In any case, below is the method I use to grab the ids and get the attachments based on the order specified in the shortcode:

// helper function to return first regex match
function get_match( $regex, $content ) {
    preg_match($regex, $content, $matches);
    return $matches[1];

// Extract the shortcode arguments from the $page or $post
$shortcode_args = shortcode_parse_atts(get_match('/\[gallery\s(.*)\]/isU', $post->post_content));

// get the ids specified in the shortcode call
$ids = $shortcode_args["ids"];

// get the attachments specified in the "ids" shortcode argument
$attachments = get_posts(
        'include' => $ids, 
        'post_status' => 'inherit', 
        'post_type' => 'attachment', 
        'post_mime_type' => 'image', 
        'order' => 'menu_order ID', 
        'orderby' => 'post__in', //required to order results based on order specified the "include" param

Hope that helps!

  • Glad that helped. If that answers your question, would you mind marking it as answer in addition to the +1? Thanks!
    – anderly
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:33
  • Yes I will, but I want to try to code first=) Mar 5, 2013 at 20:17
  • This worked fine, but I had to add post_parent => $post->ID in the call to get_posts(), also I was using the post_types_order plugin and to get the order for gallery images correct I needed to exclude sorting for attachments by hacking the plugin. Mar 6, 2013 at 10:13
  • Cool...glad you got it working!
    – anderly
    Mar 6, 2013 at 23:09

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