This plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest 3 major releases of WordPress. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.

Nelio External Featured Image (discontinued) – Available in Nelio Content


Important Notice

This plugin has been re-implemented from scratch and merged into Nelio
. If you’re interested
in using external featured images in your blog and receiving updates and
support, please install Nelio Content.


If you’re already a user of Nelio External Featured Images, simply replace it
with Nelio Content; it implements a better external featured image engine and
it’s completely compatible with Nelio External Featured Image. Please keep in
mind that Nelio External Featured Images is now discontinued and will receive
no more updates; new features and support are available in Nelio Content only.

Are you using an external service for storing your images? Then you’d probably
like to use those images as featured images for your pages and posts. This
plugin lets you do this easily!

And even better! If you don’t specify any featured image, the plugin will use
the first image available in the post.

Related Plugins by Nelio

Featured image by


  • External Featured Image with URL. Easily set the featured image of a post by using the image's URL only!


What’s the difference between Nelio Content and Nelio External Featured Images?

Nelio Content is a plugin aimed at helping blog owners run their blog. It’s
goal is to assist your work with the blog and, therefore, it features an
editorial calendar, support for sharing content on social media, and so on.

Nelio External Featured Images was designed with the solely purpose of setting
external featured images in your posts. Whilst this plugin served its purpose
quite well, there were several scenarios in which it simply didn’t work.

We believe external featured images are very helpful to all users. Therefore,
we decided to integrate this plugin’s functionality into Nelio Content. However,
we didn’t simply “duplicate” the code from one plugin to the other; we
reimplemented the functionality from scratch and made it compatible with more

I’m already using Nelio External Featured Images. Do I need to install Nelio Content?

No, you don’t need to install Nelio Content to keep using the plugin. However,
Nelio External Featured Images is now discontinued, and we strongly recommend
you to replace it with Nelio Content. We’ve implemented several improvements
in Nelio Content and made it compatible with multiple themes, including
Newspaper, Newsmag, and Enfold.

Will you support this plugin?

As already stated in the plugin’s description, Nelio External Featured Image
is now discontinued. However, all its functionality is available in Nelio
, so you can use Nelio Content to get our support and updates.

How does the plugin work?

Every time an image is uploaded in the media library, WordPress automatically
creates alternative versions of that image, each with a different size
(thumbnail, medium, large and full). Themes may then choose among these
different versions when displaying the an image in a post.

Thumbnails do also exist for featured images, and themes may registerd their
own alternative image sizes. For example, WordPress’ default theme
TwentyFourteen defines a thumbnail size called “twentyfourteen-full-width”
whose dimensions are 1038×576.

This plugin uses the alternative-size information (which your theme uses for
rendering a featured image) for scaling and cropping external featured images
via CSS on your users’ browsers.

There are some situations, however, in which this “size” information is not
provided. In these scenarios, our plugin relies on theme’s CSS file. If the
CSS rules define the width and height of the featured image, everything should
be fine. Otherwise, you may have to tweak something.

I don’t see external featured images. What do I do?

Try adding the following CSS code in your theme:

img.nelioefi {

and refresh your site. If you can see the external featured image, it means
that our plugin works properly, but some CSS tweaking was needed. Now, simply
edit the CSS styles of your theme so that the featured image looks good
everywhere (width, height, max-width, max-height).

I added the CSS code you mention, but images do not appear yet.

WordPress offers more than one function for inserting featured images.
Unfortunately, only one of them has a filter we can use. If your theme is not
using the (get_)the_post_thumbnail, then our plugin will not be able to
insert external featured images.

In these cases, the only solution is to tweak your theme and edit some PHP
code. Unfortunately, there’s no generic solution for doing it. Just locate
where featured images are being inserted, and edit those lines so that it uses
the previous function (if possible). Please note that the plugin also offers
some helper functions that will ease the “tuning” of the theme (check the file
includes/nelio-efi-main.php to know them and review their documentation).

How does the plugin find the first image linked in a post?

If you don’t specify any featured image, the plugin will use the first image
included in your post. In order to find the image, it looks for img tags that
looks like the following:

<img src="image-url-here" ... />

The img tag and the src attribute have to be “together”. Otherwise, our
plugin won’t be able to find the featured image.

I don’t want to use the first image in a post as the featured image. How do I change this?

That’s quite easy. Simply add the following line in your theme’s functions.php file:

add_filter( 'nelioefi_use_first_image', '__return_false' );


Discontinued and replace by bloatware

I loved this plugin. It did exactly what it said. However the developer now made the very stupid move, to merge this plugins into another plugin called “Neilo Content”.

If you still want to use the external images features, you now need to install Neilo Content plugin, which is a massive plugin that comes with tons of features such as Editorial Calendar, Social Networks, team capability, which are all unrelated to the external images feature. This is very silly, since all those features sound nice in theory, but you sure won’t need it if you only want external images, not to mention the server load that is created by all these features and slows down your website unnecessarily. It’s a massive bloatware plugin that comes with heavy advertisement for the pro version

The only reason the developer discontinued and merged this plugin, was to promote his new plugin, which is bloatware and he advertises as free, but once installed, you are being prompted to upgrade to the Pro version.

Once again a developer on WordPress, who had a great open source product, but decided to throw it all away for a lousy promotion of his paid products.

The solution would have been simple, keep this plugin alive, and promote your paid plugin.

Anyway, this used to be a 5 star plugin, but now deserves a 1 star rating for this bad move.

best plugin ever. adds featured image when you embed

For years I have been to lazy to upload an image form y posts that I copy images that are linked as thumbnails, like from picture forums. When you copy and paste the code it doesnt upload amy images to your server so there was never an image to use as featured. Just found this and BAM, every post has a featured image. Wish I found this years ago.

For search- How can I add a featured image from embedded images.

Works fine!

This works just fine on 4.5.3.

After using another plugin that corrupted my website, I downloaded this plugin and it works with zero problems.

The thing is smart. If you do not supply a href to the external image, it will look in the post for the first article and use that as the feature imaged. Very useful for existing websites that have a lot of content without featured images set.

Great plugin

Awesome, easy to use and great for people that don’t want to waste disk space 😀

Read all 67 reviews

Contributors & Developers

“Nelio External Featured Image (discontinued) – Available in Nelio Content” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.



1.4.5 (November 23, 2016)

  • Notice Added. Adding a notice to the plugin to let our users know that this
    plugin is now discontinued and they should install Nelio Content instead. The
    notice can be disabled using a new filter named
    nelioefi_recommend_nelio_content and returning false.

1.4.4 (April 21, 2016)

  • Bug Fix. If there isn’t any external featured image set and the post doesn’t
    contain any images, do not return an empty featured image.
  • Buf Fix. Auto-select first image in post, regardless of the quotation type
    used by the img (i.e. it works with both single and double quotes).
  • Improvement. Using the filter the_content for trying to obtain the
    first featured image, when (apparently) no image was included in the post.
    This may occur, for example, when a plugin for converting links to images is
  • Notice Fix. Removed notice (thanks to Lars

1.4.3 (March 22, 2016)

  • Improvement. The first image of your posts are now saved in a custom
    meta. This way, selecting the first image as the featured image is much
    faster and the workload is reduced. This meta’s name is
  • Improvement. The previous meta is only used in the front end. This
    also ensures that the Dashboard is not affected by the plugin.

1.4.2 (March 8, 2016)

  • Fix. Using first image as the featured image automatically now works
    under (hopefully) all circumstances. The previous version only worked if
    the img tag and its src attribute were side by side. This is no longer

1.4.1 (January 28, 2016)

  • Fix. Using first image as the featured image is now working properly.

1.4.0 (January 27, 2016)

  • New Funcionality! By default, the plugin will use the first image that
    appears in the content of your posts if you didn’t specify any external
    featured image. Note there’s a new filter to change this behavior
    (nelioefi_use_first_image); you can read more about it in the FAQ section.


  • Bug fix: Quick Edit (and possibly other edits) a post removed the external
    featured image. This does no longer happen.
  • External Featured Image is inserted using the src attribute of an img tag
    in RSS feeds (instead of an inline CSS background property).


  • Define the ALT attribute of your external featured images.


  • Added a new filter (“nelioefi_post_meta_key”) that will let you define a
    custom post_meta_key to store the URL of the external featured image.


  • Referencing our A/B testing service for WordPress.


  • Added External Featured Image box for custom post types. If the custom
    post type’s template uses featured image.
  • Some helper functions have been introduced in the plugin, so that adapting
    themes becomes easier.


  • Compatibility with the Genesis Framework. By default, external featured
    images have a minimum size of 150x150px. Make sure you edit your CSS files
    for proper image size.
  • Some minor tweaks.


  • Bug fix. One function for locating external featured images was missplaced.
    I moved it to the proper file so that it loads when the user is not an admin.


  • Bug fix. You can now set regular featured images under all circumstances
    (thanks rprose for reporting the bug!).


  • Improved image sizing. Now, the plugin uses the sizes the theme defines and
    tries to scale and crop the external image for its proper display.


  • First release.