Although WordPress doesn't offer much out of the box, there are some great plugins out there, free and premium, that can do the work for you. Below is a selection of the best plugins to manage your media library and files.

Media Cleaner

The Media Cleaner plugin from MeowApps finds unused and useless files from both your WordPress media library and uploads directory. To do this, it analyses your entire WordPress install and runs a scan to find how each of your files are being used. It even features many options and filters.

The plugin checks all your post types (posts, pages, portfolios, products, etc), your metadata, your widgets, the theme, and goes the extra mile to resolve shortcodes to find more. It also offers more specific checks to support Page Builders, which are growing in popularity. All this makes it easy to find broken media, unused media/files as well as orphan images (retina) in your system.

Media File Renamer

Media File Renamer is a WordPress plugin that works by renaming your media files. This can be done automatically (with certain pre-set conditions) or manually. It's a great tool for SEP purposes as you can keep your WordPress site tidy and avoid file-name-related issues. All references to the file names you change will be updated across your entire site.

The plugin recommends file names based on the title of each media item, which you can automatically assign with one click. The manual version then gives you more freedom to set things up the way you want. For the developers out there, it also offers many actions and filters to automate the renaming process according to your needs.

WP Retina 2x

WP Retina 2x is a great tool to create image files that are required by Retina (or any high-DPI) devices. It displays them to your site visitors accordingly, depending on their device. This ensures that your website's images look beautiful and sharp on any device.

The retina images are generated automatically (or you can choose to do it manually) and you can control everything from an intuitive dashboard. The plugin does not optimise the images itself, however, there are tools such as the EWWW Image Optimizer (below) that integrate very well with WP Retina 2x.

EWWW Image Optimizer

Images often times slow down your WordPress site because they haven't been optimised the right way (or at all). This speed difference can cause you to lose customers. That's where EWWW Image Optimizer comes in. It compresses your images to make them faster while maintaining a very high quality.

This makes a difference in your site visitor's experience and has been proven to work on hundreds of thousands of websites all across the world. It increases page speed to improve conversion rates and also provides storage space and bandwidth. It works with both newly uploaded images as well as those that you already have uploaded on your site.  It even includes the option to choose between pixel perfect compression or high compression options that are visually lossless.

EWWW Image Optimizer will also optimise images uploaded and created by any plugin, and features special integrations with many popular plugins, including the WP Retina 2x plugin mentioned above.

Enhanced Media Library

The Enhanced Media Library plugin is a handy one for those who manage a lot of media files. It creates media categories for categorising and filtering media items in your WordPress dashboard (both new and existing files).

It is fully compatible with the WordPress native shortcodes for galleries to display the images and other media files you may have. You can also add new MIME types, delete existing ones, and point out which file types are allowed to be uploaded.

WP Media Folder

WP Media Folder is a lightweight plugin for speedy folder creation, navigation, filtering and ordering. It uses its own taxonomy to manage folders and also allows you to import the default WordPress media categories upon install. You can upload single or multiple files directly into any folder, sub-folder, sub-sub folder and so on. Just drag and drop the media files and classify the folders with cover images.

Since this builds upon the native WordPress media manager, removing the plugin won't result in any loss of files. It offers a multitude of other features including a gallery feature, the ability to assign a single media file to multiple folders, the ability to sync with server folders and media, WooCommerce compatibility and much more.

Real Media Library

Real Media Library is a WordPress plugin used to organise your images within folder, rather than just a single library. It works by allowing you to drag and drop your files between folders. You can create, rename, delete or re-order your folders as needed.

When inserting an image somewhere, this plugin enables you to filter through your folders when inserting the media file. It works with all image and media files and also supports WordPress multisite. It also offers good extensibility for developers through integrations with third-party extensions.

Enable Media Replace

Enable Media Replace is a free, lightweight plugin to replace an image or file in your media library by uploading a new file in its place. This removes the need to delete, rename and re-upload files.

It includes a shortcode which picks up the file modification date and can display it in a post or page.

WP/LR Sync

We've seen a few plugins above from Meow Apps and this is yet another one. WP/LR Sync is a Lightroom Publish Service for WordPress. It exports all your photos to WordPress, including folders and collections, keeping them synchronised across the two. So, if you make changes to your photos (metadata, watermarks, etc), folders or collections, they will be replicated, keeping your site in sync.

Keeping your media library and files in check shouldn't be an after-thought. Do it right the first time by properly naming and organising all your files. If you need to make changes further down the line, use the above plugins to do it the right way.