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What is the upload_files permission in WordPress?

The “upload_files” capability is one of the most important in WordPress.

If users don’t have the “upload_files” capability, they completely lose access to the Media Library. They can’t upload files or even browse media on your site.

If users do not have the “upload_files” capability, this image below shows what they will see when they use an image block in Gutenberg. They will see the message, “Given your current role, you can only link an image, you cannot upload.”

WordPress message: Given your current role, you can only link an image, you cannot upload

In contrast, this next image shows what a user with the upload_files capability will see:

Upload an image to a Gutenberg block

Also, users without the upload_files capability will not have access to the “Media” link in the WordPress admin menu.

How to control the upload_files permission

If you use the Capability Manager Enhanced plugin, you can enable or disable this capability for each user role.

The Capability Manager Enhanced plugin for WordPress
  • Go to Permissions > Role Capabilities in your WordPress admin area.
  • In the top-right corner of the screen, load the user role that you want to customize. In this image below, I’ve chosen the “Editor” role:
Choose the Editor role in WordPress

In the center of the screen, you can now set the permissions. If you want to allow people in the Editor role to create posts, check the “upload files” box:

Check the "upload_files" box in WordPress

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