Using the WordPress Media Loader in the Front-End

Over a year ago I was checking out WordPress’ new JavaScript media uploader interface and I had the idea to try to get it working on the front-end. After playing around with it I managed to get something working and thought, “I should write a blog post about that,” and promptly forgot all about it. Since I’m at Loopconf at the moment and feeling inspired I guess it’s finally time 🙂

I created a simple plugin available at to demonstrate what you’ll need to do to get it working. There are some important caveats!

  1. You need to decide how you want to handle how it’ll work for users that aren’t logged in.
  2. You’ll also have to decide what to do about users without ‘upload_files’ permissions.

That said, let’s take a look!

The Plugin

The media interface is all JavaScript so the plugin mostly serves as a way to bootstrap the js libraries we’ll need. I also included a simple shortcode that spits out a button that summons the interface and replaces the button with the selected image. Otherwise, there are three important things happening:

  1. I’m calling wp_enqueue_media() to load the media interface libraries.
  2. I’m filtering ajax_query_attachments_args in filter_media() to retrieve only the images belonging to the user. If you don’t care about restricting the images just remove the filter.
  3. I’m checking current_user_can( 'upload_files' ) in the shortcode to restrict access to the interface, you’ll need a similar check somewhere in your own code.

The JavaScript

This is the meat of what you’ll need to use the media interface on the front-end. It’s actually pretty simple to summon the interface and then do something with the file that was retrieved. It’s all handled in these three easy steps:

  1. Create the file_frame object using
  2. Attach a 'select' listener to the file_frame object to handle what you want to do when a file is selected. The attachment variable will have an object containing all the metadata for the selected item. Just do a console.log() to figure out what you’re getting.
  3. Tell the file_frame to pop open the interface based on a click (or whatever) on an element somewhere.

There you have it! I’ll leave it up to you to do something non-trivial with it, but this should get you started. happy coding!

It's magic!