Automatically Set the Featured Image

Snippets by IsItWP

Sometimes you don’t have a featured image for a post and you want the first image of your article to be used as the featured image automatically.

Instructions: Add the following code to the functions.php file of your WordPress theme to automatically set the featured image for your posts. If you add a featured image to a post, then it will override this code and display your featured image instead.

function autoset_featured() {
    global $post;
    $already_has_thumb = has_post_thumbnail($post->ID);
        if (!$already_has_thumb)  {
        $attached_image = get_children( "post_parent=$post->ID&post_type=attachment&post_mime_type=image&numberposts=1" );
            if ($attached_image) {
                foreach ($attached_image as $attachment_id => $attachment) {
                    set_post_thumbnail($post->ID, $attachment_id);
add_action('the_post', 'autoset_featured');
add_action('save_post', 'autoset_featured');
add_action('draft_to_publish', 'autoset_featured');
add_action('new_to_publish', 'autoset_featured');
add_action('pending_to_publish', 'autoset_featured');
add_action('future_to_publish', 'autoset_featured');

You may also enjoy removing featured image meta box.

Comments   Leave a Reply

  1. One question, and if I need to exclude some pages? what could I do… thank you very much

  2. Why does it only work when uploading a new image and not when choosing one from the library even though it is not used in any other post?

    1. It uses the attachments, which will get the image based on the image being assigned, or attached, to the post.

  3. Thanks a lot, this is working like a charm <3

  4. I am not familiar with php. I am using astra theme. After adding this code, a random image from the post is set as the featured image instead of the first image. Can you fix this?

  5. So, first off thank you for this piece of code. As a photographer, I was running into a slightly different problem in that I needed the attachment page to have more features. After setting up the attachment page to show thumbnails, I modified your code to automatically set the attachment page thumbnail to be the attachment image. This was a real pain, so here is the code for anyone else who might be looking to do the same thing.

    function set_attachment_thumbnail() {
    global $post;
    if( get_post_type($post) === ‘attachment’) {
    $attachment_thumb = has_post_thumbnail($post->ID);
    if( !$attachment_thumb ) {
    set_post_thumbnail($post->ID, $post->ID );
    … same as above with the function name changed.

    I hope this helps someone else. 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing your snippet with us, Chris 🙂

  6. I’ve just tried applying this code – thanks for sharing – but find right off the bat that it’s only finding any image about 2/3rd of the time, and it’s also not reliably the first image from the post. Any thoughts?

  7. When I put the code at the end of functions.php, it shows the code at the top of my website instead. Do you know why or how to fix it?

    1. Chances are the code was added incorrectly. I think you should check out our article on adding the code snippets properly.

      You might also want to check out troubleshooting WordPress errors and fixing most common WordPress errors.

  8. Hi,
    it works perfectly for wordpress posts but not with custom posttypes.
    Do you have any idea to make it work on any custom posttype?

    All the best

  9. Hello

    I tried this code on Elegantthemes Extra theme and it is not working !

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

WordPress Launch Checklist

The Ultimate WordPress Launch Checklist

We've compiled all the essential checklist items for your next WordPress website launch into one handy ebook.
Yes, Send Me the Free eBook!