If you search for “gallery” on the WordPress plugins page, you’ll see nearly 3,000 results to choose from.
To say that number is overwhelming is an understatement.
Who has time to go through all of those plugins to determine which one is the best? Fortunately, you don’t have to. I’ve narrowed down the list to the 7 best WordPress gallery plugins for 2021.
Why You Need a Gallery Plugin
Without a gallery plugin, you’ll be forced to use the basic image gallery that’s built into the core feature set of WordPress. Does this work? Yes. But it’s extremely limiting, and you’ll never be able to take your web design to the next level with this gallery.
To add visual elements to your website that will stun your visitors and provide them with a user-friendly viewing experience, you need to install a gallery plugin.
Depending on your needs, you can find free gallery plugins, as well as paid gallery plugins. I’ve done my best to identify the best ones for different purposes, so there’s something for everyone on my list of the top seven gallery plugins that I recommend for WordPress sites.
How to Choose a WordPress Gallery Plugin
Before we dive in and look at the list, there are certain things that you should keep in mind during your search for a gallery plugin.
- Speed — Adding lots of images to your website can impact your website loading time. You want a lightweight plugin that won’t slow your site down, even as you upload more photos.
- Features — Are you just looking for grids, or do you want slideshow options? Do you want to upload only photos, or do you need video and audio galleries as well? Will you need ecommerce integration? These are just a few of the feature sets you should think about when you choose a plugin.
- Usability — Sure, having a plugin that’s packed with features is great, but not at the cost of its ease of use. Some plugins are designed for developers and people who are a bit more tech-savvy, while others have drag-and-drop features that are really easy to use, regardless of your technical abilities.
- Price — The majority of gallery plugins have a freemium version. In most cases, though, you’ll probably have to upgrade to a pro version to access the top features. You’ll want to check the feature sets for each pricing level.
The 7 Top Gallery Plugins for WordPress
Now that you know how to pick the best WordPress gallery plugin for you, we’ll take a look at some of my favorites.
The interface of Envira Gallery is extremely user-friendly. You’ll be able to add photos with its drag and drop functionality. You can adjust the sizes of your visual elements as well.
You’ll start with one of its pre-built templates, then customize it to your liking. In addition to photos, Envira Gallery has options for video galleries.
I also like this plugin is because it’s easy to stay organized. After you add photos to an album, you can select cover photos and choose custom tags for sorting.
All of your galleries will be mobile-responsive, so site visitors won’t have any problems accessing, viewing, or navigating through content if they are browsing from a tablet or smartphone.
Envira Gallery has social media integration and is compatible with WooCommerce, making it easy to share your images on other platforms and get your social media users to purchase content from your ecommerce store.
If you’re a photographer, you can add password protection and watermarks to galleries as well. Slideshows and lightbox mode can be viewed on a full screen so that visitors can look at images in your gallery with a closer view. These features make Envira Gallery a popular choice for artists and photographers. Learn more and buy Envira Gallery online here.
Modula Image Gallery is one of the lightest and most responsive image gallery plugins available on WordPress. I like it because you can create galleries that are unique and fully customizable.
In addition to images, Modula lets you share video galleries as well.
This plugin has a custom grid feature — you can manually change the size of each image within the gallery. Just navigate to the custom grid option and control dimensions like height, width, and aspect ratio by simply dragging the corners of an image.
Modula Image Gallery is great for beginners, as well as more advanced WordPress users. That’s because you can apply CSS to separate galleries.
The free plugin will be suitable for some WordPress users, but if you’re looking for things like hover effects, lightbox styles, and unlimited photos, you’ll need to upgrade to one of their plans, which start at $29.
With more than 900,000 active installations, NextGEN Gallery is one of the most popular WordPress gallery plugins on the market.
It’s so popular because it offers a lot of gallery options. Unlike other plugins, there isn’t one typical or standard NextGEN gallery.
You’ll first choose between the two main styles: slideshow or thumbnail. From there, you’ll decide if you want a compact or extended album style. Then, you’ll have nearly limitless choices for size, transitions, effects, timing, and things of that nature.
As you can see from this example thumbnail gallery, this plugin is perfect for photographers and artists to showcase their latest work. You can add watermarks and hotlink protection as well, which is a great feature. The lightbox galleries have deep linking options too.
But NextGEN Gallery offers much more than that. They also have ecommerce functionality, so you can sell images on your website.
You can install this plugin for free, but to get advanced features like watermarks, you’ll need to pay for the premium version.
4. Photo Gallery by 10Web – Responsive Image Gallery
Photo Gallery by 10Web is a top choice to consider because it offers so many different options for showcasing images.
- Image browser
With slideshows, you have the option to add a filmstrip above the images, so users can jump ahead instead of being forced to view one photo at a time in order. You can completely customize the dimensions of each slideshow as well.
Whenever you click an image in the thumbnail view, a lightbox will be opened. Alternatively, you can redirect each image to a specific URL, but I like the lightbox version better.
Masonry view lets you display thumbnails with different dimensions, depending on the ratio of those images. This is ideal if you have lots of photos of varying dimensions.
But the mosaic view option is probably my favorite.
The mosaic view uses the concept of masonry view, but the thumbnails are resized, so the entire content area is filled. I love the effect that this creates on the screen, and I think it’s a great way for your website to stand out from the crowd.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to pay for the premium version to access all of these view options.
Photo Gallery by 10Web offers social sharing, watermark protection, and ecommerce integration as well. Overall, it’s definitely a top choice to consider.
FooGallery is another highly responsive plugin. These retina-ready galleries will enhance the user experience as they navigate and explore the pictures on your website.
It’s available for free but has a pro version with additional features and benefits. But unlike other gallery plugins, the free version still comes with plenty of variety in the templates. You’ll have plenty of template options to choose from with this plugin.
Here’s how the dashboard looks in WordPress.
As you can see, it’s very easy to add photos and change the settings of the responsive gallery.
You can customize things like:
- Hover effects
- Loading icons
- Border sizes
- Loading effects
FooGallery also has custom CSS for developers. Another cool feature of this plugin is the infinite scroll, which is a nice option for those of you who don’t want to have photos on multiple pages within a gallery. You can also manage video galleries on your WordPress site with the FooGallery plugin. And it has tools for generating boilerplate extensions.
Flagallery Photo Portfolio has a feature that we haven’t seen so far on this list. In addition to photo and video galleries, this plugin lets you create music and audio playlists as well.
Another benefit of this plugin is the batch upload feature. It’s great for sites that want to upload a ton of content at once, while still staying organized.
It’s easy to manage all your visual content with one centralized dashboard via WordPress. From here, it’s a simple process to create collections that are fully customizable.
The plugin is optimized for SEO and compatible with all major Internet browsers.
Just like Flagallery, the Gmedia Photo Gallery plugin lets you play music on your website, as well as displays photo and video albums. Gmedia Photo Gallery lets you enable comments on your albums, so website visitors can tell you what they think about your content and you can assign categories and add tags to your galleries to help you stay organized. It even includes editing features. While all of these features may not be important to you, I know some websites are definitely looking for an all-in-one plugin like this.
The drag and drop functionality is extremely user-friendly and the results are mobile responsive.
My favorite part though is the Gmedia iOS mobile app. With the app you can upload files to WordPress without having to transfer it to another device. If you’re using your smartphone to take business photos, which you probably are, this feature will save you a step in the process. You can take a photo from your phone and directly upload it. Super simple.
If you want to take your visual content strategy to the next level, I highly recommend installing a gallery plugin. Don’t limit yourself with the basic image gallery that comes standard with WordPress.
There are thousands of plugins available, but instead of going through each of those one by one, use this list as a reference and framework to help you narrow down your choices:
- What features do you want?
- Do you need the gallery to handle just photos, or do you use other types of media? Videos? Audio files?
- How much are you willing to pay?
- How important is mobile uploading to you?
Some of these plugins have more features than others; it all depends on what you’re looking for. No matter which option you choose, any plugin on this list will improve your site from the perspective of your visitors.