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7 Best WordPress Gallery Plugins in 2021: All Have a Free Versions!

Last Updated on November 18th, 2021

Published on October 17th, 2019

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Today, we’re going to help you choose a WordPress gallery plugin for your site.

Websites nowadays are all about attractive, visually appealing content, and nevermore has the expression “a picture paints a thousand words” been so true.

Having great images on your site can dramatically increase user experience, which in turn enhances engagement, but only when presented professionally. Mercifully, it’s not necessary to be a professional photographer or image editor to achieve that.

Adding images and even simple galleries to WordPress itself is simple enough but making everything look attractive and well-presented is a little more involved, and that’s where a WordPress gallery plugin steps in.

In their most basic form, gallery plugins allow you to arrange your images into galleries and albums. While that might be sufficient for some people, most plugins offer many other features that enable you to present your images (and videos) in the best possible way.

Here are some of the typical features to look for in a photo gallery plugin:

  • A range of gallery formats, e.g., mosaic, masonry, grid, slider, carousel, etc.
  • A range of gallery templates that allow for fast creation of galleries
  • A lightbox that enables visitors to see bigger versions of images
  • Customization options to tailor the looks of the galleries to match your website and branding
  • Device responsive galleries that will optimize how the photos are presented depending on the device the visitor is using
  • The ability to Import images directly from external sources such as Flickr
  • Image protection and right-click prevention to help prevent people from stealing your images
  • Video galleries that allow you to upload film footage to galleries from sources like Vimeo, YouTube, etc., or your hard drive.
  • Sharing buttons (e.g., email, social media, etc.)
  • Facility for visitors to leave comments
  • Lazy loading to optimize site speed
  • SEO optimization, such as ALT attributes on images

Our advice is to use the list above to choose the features you think you will need and select a plugin that has them. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from, so you should easily be able to find one to your liking.

As we have already said, there are plenty of WordPress image gallery plugins from which to choose. Below, we’ve listed seven of the best currently available. They are either completely free or otherwise have a good free version, allowing you to get started straight away creating picture galleries without having to spend a single dime.

We kick off with one of the most popular gallery plugins, NextGen Gallery, a freemium option with reviews claiming the free version is better than many other premium plugins. Over 700k active downloads exist from the WordPress plugin directory alone, earning the plugin a respectable 4.3/5.0 user rating.

The free version of NextGen Gallery boasts the following features:

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  • Slideshow, thumbnail, and image browser gallery styes
  • Compact and extended album styles
  • Range of configuration and customization options (size, style, transitions, timing, lightbox effects, etc.
  • Gutenberg support for easy placing of galleries or albums

Pro upgrades start at $18 per year for the ‘Starter’ plan, rising to $84 for ‘Pro.’ Depending on the package purchased, the upgrades add things like:

  • Additional gallery and album types, including thumbnail, slideshow, filmstrip, masonry, side scroll, etc.
  • Full-screen lightbox
  • Image captions displayed on hover
  • Image copyright protection
  • Retina images
  • Frontend image search (allows visitors to search images)
  • Social sharing buttons and image commenting
  • Image deep linking
  • Free or paid digital downloads with a variety of payment gateways
  • Updates and support
  • 14-day moneyback guarantee

NextGen Gallery is an excellent option for newbies to the world of image galleries, and the reasonably priced pro plans mean upscaling won’t cost you a fortune.

FooGallery is an excellent plugin that allows you to create galleries in a matter of minutes, thanks to a range of built-in templates and plenty of customizations, even in the free version. Furthermore, speed is not compromised thanks to image lazy loading and optimized code, and the developers have also seriously considered SEO.

Other key features that you get with the free version include:

  • Six pre-made gallery templates
  • Wide range of customizations, including animated loading and hover effects
  • Single-click gallery page creation
  • Drag and drop image and gallery reordering with live preview
  • Image lazy loading and other performance features
  • SEO optimizations including ALT and title attributes on images, Yoast SEO sitemap integration, etc.
  • Albums extension giving responsive and all-in-one stack layouts
  • Gallery widget
  • Custom CSS (galleries and albums)
  • Gutenberg ready
  • Device responsive

That is an impressive list for a free version, even rivaling the paid versions of some other plugins.

If you crave more features, upgrading to a pro plan will add some or all of the following features:

  • Video galleries
  • Dynamic galleries
  • Gallery search
  • Watermarks and right-click image protection
  • Meta tags and filters
  • Deep linking
  • WooCommerce integration including dynamic WooCommerce gallery and product variation support
  • Call to action (CTA) buttons
  • Updates and support
  • 7-day free trial

The pro plans cost between $19.99 and $99.99 per year for one site, plus monthly and lifetime plans are also available. We advise beginning with the free plan, after which you can try the free trial of a premium one. If you are still unsure after that expires, opt for a monthly plan, only investing in a yearly or lifetime one when you are sure you have made the correct choice.

FooGallery has been downloaded 200k times from the just WordPress plugin directory, where users have rated it a respectable 4.8/5.0 stars.

Incidentally, the developers of FooGallery also sell a lightbox plugin. FooBox, which may be of interest to you also.

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Get FooGallery

Photonic

Photonic is a completely free plugin that allows you to grab images and albums from various external sources and display them attractively on your WordPress website. Considering this plugin costs nothing, it does come with some handy features, including:

  • Display single images, albums, galleries, and collections from Flickr, Google Photos, Smugmug, Zenfolio, and Instagram
  • Interactive wizard for creating galleries
  • Gallery and lightbox support for videos, including those from external sources like YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
  • Deep linking for non-WordPress images
  • Social sharing support (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+)
  • Multiple layout options
  • Slideshow using Slide script
  • Gutenberg support
  • Extensive documentation

Photonic has an impressive 4.8/5.0 user score and over 10k active downloads from WordPress, and we think it’s an ideal option if you want an image gallery plugin gallery that does what exactly it says on the tin.

Get Photonic

Envira Gallery is a freemium plugin which means you can add extra features as your site scales or when your budget allows. The free version is understandably rather basic, although it is enough to get you underway:

  • Drag and drop gallery builder
  • Device responsive
  • SEO optimized

The additional functionality and features you get by upgrading to a premium plan of Envira Gallery will help you create the sassiest galleries and albums. With prices ranging from just $20 (‘Basic’) through $48 (‘Plus’) to $69 per year (‘Pro’), or $209 lifetime, the premium pans add some or all the following features:

  • Unlimited galleries (video and images) and albums
  • Image compression
  • Audio
  • Standalone galleries
  • Slideshows
  • Supersized lightbox images
  • NextGen and Dropbox importers
  • Social sharing and Instagram and Pinterest integration
  • Scheduler
  • Image tags
  • Watermarks
  • Beaver Builder and Elementor compatible
  • Fullscreen images
  • ZIP importer
  • WooCommerce integration
  • Image proofing
  • Deeplinking
  • CSS
  • Support and updates
  • 14-day moneyback guarantee

We recommend getting familiar with the free versions first, and when it is time to upgrade, invest in the ‘Pro’ plan as it gives you more features than the other plans but at very reasonable prices.

Envira Gallery scores 4.8/5.0 in the WordPress plugin directory, with over 100k active downloads in operation.

Get Envira Gallery

Gallery PhotoBlocks has an unusual feature compared to other plugins in that it lets you create grid galleries and then rearrange them simply by dragging the images around. That means you retain complete control over the layout of your masonry grid gallery.

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Galleries are created by simply dropping in images and empty blocks, while the premium version also allows the inclusion of text and post blocks. You can then easily drag the pictures around and reposition them until you are happy with how the gallery looks.

Other key features of the free version include:

  • Full width, fast loading galleries
  • Image shuffle
  • Open images and videos with one-click
  • Pixel perfect justified gallery
  • Captions with title and description
  • Lightbox to zoom photos
  • Special effects on mouse hover
  • Social sharing
  • Device responsive
  • SEO optimized including Jetpack Photon compatible

A pro version is also available, adding extra features such as more hover and loading effects, image protection, and deep linking.

Gallery PhotoBlocks is a superb option if you are looking for a straightforward way of creating galleries on your website. Impressively, the plugin scores 5.0/5.0 with users, and over 10k downloads from WordPress alone are active.

Photo Gallery by 10Web is a very popular plugin, with over 300k active downloads from WordPress and a user rating of 4.6/5.0.

This freemium WordPress photo gallery plugin includes built-in layouts and themes that will get you up and running with attractive galleries in no time.

Key features included with the free version include:

  • Unlimited photos, galleries, and albums
  • Five basic gallery/album layouts
  • Two pre-made themes (non-customizable)
  • One lightbox effect
  • Widgets for slideshow, gallery, and standard tag cloud
  • Watermarking and right-click protection
  • Device responsive

Three paid plans are available. These range from $30 to $100, and as always, the features you get depend on which plan you choose. These can include delights such as:

  • Additional gallery and album layouts
  • Additional lightbox effects
  • Customizable themes
  • Dynamic tag cloud widget
  • Instagram integration
  • Social sharing
  • User commenting and rating
  • Role management
  • Image optimization
  • Backups
  • Additional plugins (e.g., Form Maker, Events Calendar, Slider, etc.)
  • Six months updates and support

The free version of Photo Gallery by 10Web would be a great springboard into the world of image galleries. If asked to pick just one of the paid plans, we’d go with the middle one, ‘Pro,’ which costs $60 and includes most features you will ever need. We feel the most expensive plan would be a waste for most people, as all it really adds is fifteen extra plugins that you likely won’t use.

Robo Gallery is another plugin with good free functionality alongside paid options. You can create unlimited image galleries in posts, pages, Elementor, or Gutenberg, even in its free form.

The free version includes six pre-made gallery types:

  • Grid
  • Masonry
  • Mosaic
  • YouTube
  • Polaroid
  • Image slider

That is a good range for a freebie, but more gallery types along with lots of customization options can be added by upgrading to a paid plan. Prices of the paid plans range from $30 to $95, and add the following features:

  • Insert galleries into widget areas
  • Unlimited multi-categories
  • Customizable layout
  • Fifty gallery types
  • Lightbox, thumbnail settings, hover, and menu settings
  • YouTube playlists and channels
  • Between one and unlimited domains (depending on the plan chosen)
  • Support and updates (duration depends on the plan selected)

We love Robo Gallery because of its wide range of gallery types, particularly in the paid plans, so finding one to your liking shouldn’t be difficult.

Robo Gallery has achieved a 4.3/5.0 stars rating and over 50k active downloads from the WordPress plugin directory.

Suppose you have absolutely no budget at your disposal but want to add image galleries to your website. In that case, Photonic is an entirely free option that offers good functionality and has excellent reviews. The only downside is its lack of a premium option, meaning it cannot scale with your site or business.

If you believe you will want more elaborate galleries in the future, any of the other ones listed above will work well for you. Each offers a free version, and the cost of upgrading is reasonable, too.

However, if asked to choose just one, we’d probably go with FooGallery. That is because it offers excellent functionality in both free and paid forms. What’s more, several payment plans and a seven-day free trial are available making it very low-risk to try.

Simply adding an image or two to your website is no longer enough to make it stand out from the crowd ­– those images must be presented in the most attractive way possible, and the simplest method of achieving that is with a WordPress image gallery plugin.

How are you presenting images on your website – are you using a gallery plugin, and if so, which one? Are you managing with a free license, or did you invest in a premium one?

As always, we truly always appreciate your feedback on what you are doing with your sites.

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I'm a former construction industry professional who came out of the writer's closet and am now totally comfortable with my creative side. My pronouns are cool, smart, and witty. As a content writer, I have clients in a number of niches including music, education, construction, and of course, WordPress. I'm also a blogger and affiliate marketer.