Access 3 Million FREE Unsplash Photos From Your WordPress Media Library

2021-10-28 | Design Resources, WordPress | 0 comments

We'll take a close look at the free plugin Instant Images in this review. Here are all the features you need to know about.
Skribent: Victor Duse
By Victor Duse

The free plugin Instant Images lets you upload and edit Unsplash images directly from the WordPress Media Library and from your pagebuilder. This is by far the easiest and quickest way to upload free photos to your website, but there is one annoying thing that prevents me from giving it five stars.

Plugin rating:

Update: A couple of days after this review was written, Instant Images version 4.5.0 was released with support for Pixabay images. Unlike Unsplash, you need to get an API key to import Pixabay images.

Heads up: Don’t install the wrong plugin

There are at least two competing plugins that offer Unsplash integrations with WordPress. One of them is a bad choice – and it’s not the one that you would guess.

Instant Images – One Click Unsplash Uploads for WordPress

Instant Images – One Click Unsplash Uploads

This is the unofficial Unsplash plugin for WordPress, developed by Darren Cooney at Connekt Media. And it works really nice!

  • No hotlinking to Unsplash – images are uploaded to your Media Library
  • Resize images in the plugin settings or use image compression plugins
  • Change filename and meta texts before importing images
  • No Unsplash account is needed

Fun fact: The banner image for this plugin in the WordPress directory is a JPG image with a 112 kb file size. Well done!

Unsplash official WordPress plugin

Unsplash (the official plugin)

One would think that the official plugin from Unsplash would be the best choice, but it’s not. It’s obsolete and it will make your website slow.

  • The images are hotlinked via the Unsplash CDN and not from your own server.
  • No updates for a year and not tested with the latest 3 major releases of WordPress.
  • Not compatible with image compression plugins or WEBP

Fun fact: The banner image for this plugin in the WordPress directory is a PNG image with a 323 kb file size. You should know better, Unsplash!

1. Install Instant Images – One Click Unsplash Uploads

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Go to Plugins » Add New
  3. Search for Unsplash and you should get Instant Images – One Click Unsplash Uploads as the top result
  4. Click Install Now and Activate the plugin

Now you have access to over 3 million free photos directly from WordPress. You don’t need an API key, an Unsplash account or any custom integration.

Install Instant Images – One Click Unsplash Uploads

2. Instant Images Plugin Settings

  1. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Media » Instant Images
  2. Click the Settings button in the top right corner
Instant Images Settings

There are basically just two settings. The first one is to define the max width and max height for uploaded images. Even if you use themes and plugins that use responsive images (srcset) it’s a good idea to resize the full size versions as well, since they might be used as background images etc.

The default Instant Images max size is 1600 px X 1200 px. For Divi, 1920 px X 1080 px can be a good starting point, but it depends on your specific design.

Related content: The Ultimate Guide to Using Images within Divi

The second setting lets you hide Instant Images tab in the Media Modal windows.

Resize Unsplash images

3. Import Unsplash images directly to your WordPress Media Library

Ok, let’s begin with the fun part and import beautiful photos to WordPress with one click!

  1. Go to Media » Instant Images
  2. You can filter images from New, Popular or Oldest but you will probably use the search feature in the right corner to find images.
  3. Just click your favorite images and wait for the ✅  to finish the import to your Media Library

Head back to Media » Library to browse the images in your Media Library and to change the alt-text, title text and image description text.

Importing an image to the WordPress media library

A search form “conference” generates 1105 results from Unsplash.

How to rename Unsplash image filenames (without an extra plugin)

To use descriptive filenames is one of many pieces in a successful SEO strategy. But in order to rename image files in WordPress you need to install a plugin like Media File Renamer first. What a bummer!

The good news is that the guys behind Instant Images have already thought about that and let you rename the Unsplash file names before you upload the images.

  1. Go to Media » Instant Images
  2. Hover the image that you want to import
  3. Now click the cogwheel in the bottom right corner of the image
  4. Now you can edit the image details like Filename, Title, Alt text and Caption
  5. Hit the Upload button to upload the renamed file

Pro tip: Instant Images will replace spaces with the more SEO and browser friendly hyphens (-) automatically. 

Edit image details

Click the cogwheel before you upload the image to edit the filename without extra plugins.

Edit the filename and meta data

You can edit metadata like the title and alt-text too, but that could also be done in the Media Library.

4. Import Unsplash images directly to your pages and posts with the Divi Builder

You don’t have to take a detour through the Media Library. Instant Images lets you add images when you are editing pages and posts as well. However, if you use a premium pagebuilder like Divi you’ll need a small workaround.

  1. Click to upload an image to a Divi section, row or module
  2. Click the Instant Images tab in the Choose an image modal
  3. When the upload is completed you’ll see the ✅  symbol
  4. Now, one would expect that the the next step would be to just click the Select button to insert the image. But no, there are three extra steps that takes away some of the speed benefits from this plugin.
  5. Click the Media Library tab to see all your uploaded images…. or will you?
  6. Hey, where is my Unsplash image? To see (and choose) it, you have to refresh the Media Library. The easiest workaround  that I’ve found is to expand the All dates dropdown and click the current month.
  7. Now you can see the new image from Unsplash. Click it and then click the Upload an image button to insert the image to your Divi layout.

I guess there are room for improving the import process when using the Divi Builder.

How to import Unsplash images in Divi

Click the Instant Images tab when uploading images in the Divi Builder

Refresh the media library

Refresh the Media Library by clicking All dates and choose the current month instead.

5. Import Unsplash images directly from Gutenberg

I’m not a big fan of the Gutenberg Block Editor but there are some nice features when you use it with the Instant Images plugin. And the extra steps mentioned in the Divi chapter above are gone.

  1. Edit the page or post with the Gutenberg editor
  2. Click the  Instant Image Gutenberg options icon in the top right corner to open the Instant Images widget
  3. Now you can filter and search images from Unsplash (just like you can in the Media Library)
  4. Hover an image to see the options:
  5. Click the image to upload it to the Media Library
  6. Click the image icon to Set as featured image (superfast!)
  7. Click the + icon to insert the image in an Image block
  8. Click the cogwheel to Edit image details (filename and more) before you upload it.

Well played Instant Images, well played.

Instant Images options for Gutenberg

Use the Instant Images widget in Gutenberg to speed up your WordPress design process.

Summary: A huge time-saver but not fully compatible with Divi (yet)

The plugin Instant Images provides a fast and easy alternative to manually uploading and editing images from Unsplash.com. It will run smoothly with image optimization plugins and it will not harm your pagespeed score.

While the integration with Gutenberg is smooth, there are still some tweaks needed for the Divi Builder before we have a clean 5-star plugin.

Plugin rating:

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