Export WordPress Posts With Featured Images

By James LePage
 on July 1, 2020
Last modified on January 6th, 2022

Export WordPress Posts With Featured Images

By James LePage
 on July 1, 2020
Last modified on January 6th, 2022

In this blog post we're going to discuss the best way to export WordPress pages and posts with featured images. The default way of exporting WordPress blog posts only exports the text and formatting - not any featured images or media attachments. This is definitely an issue because most blog posts contain images (or should, as this is good for SEO and readership), so if you're trying to migrate a blog You may find yourself asking this question:

How do I export my blog posts from WordPress with my featured images attached?

Surprisingly, this is a common predicament that many find themselves in. It's a common practice to migrate all content away from your website, while having no need for anything else. traditional ways of migration, like using all-in-one migrate pro will create a complete copy of the website on whatever server/ development environment you end up moving to. In some cases, this is a good thing, as you can easily and quickly migrate your entire website.

The Problem - Featured images not exported with blog posts

However, if you're just trying to move blog posts or individual pages to a new website, and leave everything else behind, you may find yourself a bit out of luck. When exporting blogposts using the built-in WordPress tool (found under tools, export, posts), no featured images, or body images are exported -- Only the text is.

In some cases, if you have a very small blog (so you're a service company who only publishes blog posts for SEO purposes, mean you have under 10 total posts) you can go ahead and manually download, and then reattach the featured image to the new blog post. However, in most situations this is not only tedious, but extremely impractical. You don't have time to download every featured image from hundreds of blog posts on your old WordPress website, only to upload them to individual posts on a new site.

The Solution - Export WordPress blog posts with featured image

You need a way to export your WordPress blog posts with the featured images and body images/media. Luckily for you, and everybody else trying to export many blogposts from their WordPress website, a developer (thanks, Joost de Keijzer!) has created a plugin that does exactly that.

To export your WordPress blog posts with the featured images, install this plugin:

We can confirm that this plugin is working with WordPress version 5.4.3, as we recently exported our own blog using it. This plugin finds all featured images, and all other images contained in the post content and attaches them to the export file.

This will work with most WordPress installations and setups, but there may be specific in conflicts. However, in our case it worked, and for most of our third party clients, it has worked as well. we've used it on websites that are running Elementor, the Genesis Framework, and many other third party themes. pretty much, if you can edit the post in Gutenberg, then it will export the content and media as advertised.

Once you’ve installed the plugin, navigate to tools, export (This is the same place that you would go if you were exporting blog posts natively).

Select which content you want to export, in your case it is probably posts. Then, Scroll down and just above the blue “Download export file” button, Check off export media with selected content.

To reduce the load on your server, we recommend splitting up your exports Into smaller chunks. We do this by exporting individual months of content. Our blog is around six months old, meaning that we are going to separate our posts into six individual exports, one for each month. If you overload your server, this may temporarily result in a 503 error for you, and all other visitors.

The plugin will then go ahead and download an XML file (which is the same format as the standard WordPress post export). You can go ahead and take the XML file and upload it to your new WordPress installation.

You do not need to install any additional plugins, and all you need to do is import your XML file the same way as always.

Navigate to tools, import, WordPress, and upload the XML file there. Your WordPress blog posts should have been successfully imported with the attachments such as featured images, and body images included.

A big benefit of this plugin is that it takes the image file, and adds it to the new installation of WordPress. Some other methods of exporting blog posts from WordPress Import images by attaching the SRC from the old post. In many cases, when you delete the old installation of WordPress after importing all content to the new location, the images will break as they were not actually migrated to the new host. This could be disastrous, as you may be unable to get the images back, leading to tons of broken images on your new website.

This plugin will go ahead and export the images as well as featured images, and then re upload them to the new hosting location, foregoing this issue.

However, you should always test using something like Chrome Developer Tools and checking the Uploads folder in the WordPress root directory to confirm that all content was successfully transferred over to the new website. This is especially necessary if you are migrating from an old host to a new host, and deleting the previous installation.

On the topic of migrating a website, if you are looking for a new host, consider Cloudways. It allows you to host your website on enterprise level hosting like AWS and Google Cloud. Not only is this super cost effective (it starts at $10 per month, billed monthly), but the host is extremely quick and has great support. You can get 30% off your first month by using the code Isotropic.

Our Experience With Exporting featured images from WordPress

We recently only exported blog posts from our WordPress website, and use this plugin to do so. We have many blog posts, which contain many images. Each post is pretty large, and I'd say that our average word count is over 1000. We used this plugin to attach featured images to our blog post exports, and it worked fairly well. There were some issues though.

It requires a lot of processing power for your hosting server to package the images and blog posts together. Unfortunately, this can lead to server overloads resulting in a 503 error. We found this to be the case even an extremely powerful, enterprise level hosting such as Cloudways.

The best way to remedy this issue is to simply follow the instructions above. Instead of exporting one massive file, split it up into individual months. By exporting smaller chunks of data in one go, your server probably won't get overloaded, resulting in the 503 error. You simply need to be mindful of the resources that you have allocated to you, and make the best use of what you've got.

If you're a developer, and familiar with PHP hooks, you can extend the functionality of this plugin pretty easily. The main hook, export_query_media_ids, allows you Easily include additional attachment IDs to your export file.


We hope that this tutorial showed you how to easily add featured images to your WordPress blog post export. A major issue with the built-in export functionality is being unable to include media. This plugin easily remedies the Situation, add in one check a button , you'll be able to export all featured images with your blog posts to a new location.

If you have any questions about this plugin, feel free to reach out in the comment section below.

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Kingsley Felix
Kingsley Felix
3 years ago

Does not work if the exported file is imported via WP-CLI, tried multiple times.

Also importing via wordpress dashboard makes duplicate post and images.

How did you upload yours?

3 years ago

This is the trick. Thanks
Instead of exporting one massive file, split it up into individual months. By exporting smaller chunks of data in one go, your server probably won't get overloaded, resulting in the 503 error.

Article By
James LePage
James LePage is the founder of Isotropic, a WordPress education company and digital agency. He is also the founder of, a venture backed startup bringing AI to WordPress creators.
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