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Add External Featured Images to WordPress Posts

WordPress allows us to upload a featured image to posts.

By default, these featured images must be hosted on your site's server. However, what happens if you want to use an image located outside your site? Luckily, there is a plugin for that purpose.

In this short tutorial, I'm going to show you how to choose a remotely-hosted featured image with the Nelio External Featured Image plugin.

Step #1. Install Nelio External Featured Image plugin

  • Login to your WordPress site.
  • Go to Plugins > Add new and search for "Nelio External Featured Image".
  • Click "Install Now" and activate the plugin.
Nelio External Featured Image WordPress

Step #2. Add an external featured image to your post

Create or edit a post. You will notice above the regular Featured image section there is a new block named "External Featured Image", where you can simply paste in the full URL of a jpg, png or gif file:

Nelio External Featured Image WordPress

Save the changes when you're done.

Step #3. End result

Click on "Preview changes" button to see how the featured image looks:

Nelio External Featured Image WordPress

Note: the image is added as background inside the <img/> tag that would render the regular featured image. If the external featured image is not visible, it may require you to add custom CSS to define the width and height for it. For example:

.wp-post-image {
    width: auto;
    height: 300px;

Hopefully this tutorial helps you. Click here you need to make sure every post has a featured image.

If you need to protect your images, check out how to restrict Media Library access in WordPress and also how to protect image and file uploads in WordPress.


About the author

Valentín creates beautiful designs from amongst the tequila plants of Jalisco, Mexico. You can see Valentín's design work all over this site and you can often find him helping members in support.