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The media manager is Joomla!'s little Digital Asset Management System (DAM). If you are managing content, you will need a place to store the files. Files are all the images, PDFs and whatever you decide to mention in your content. Usually these digital assets consist of the file and additional meta data. In this case, we need an easy-to-use tool to manage our files. Let's have a look at what is possible with the Joomla! core media manager.
How it works
To me it looks more like a file manager. Everyone knows the Windows explorer or the OSX finder. In Joomla! they call it "media manager". It has a base directory where all the files are stored. You can look at your files in two different ways using your browser: via a Thumbnail View (Figure 1) and a Detailed View (Figure 2). It is possible to navigate through the folders by clicking on them.
Figure 1: Media Manager - Thumbnail View
Figure 2: Media Manager - Detailed View
You can create as many additional folders as you wish. In the Detailed View, you are able to delete folders and files. You’ll find the same structure in the Joomla! administration backend as you can see in your FTP client (Figure 3), but you have to be careful: In core Joomla! you will also find a media directory. This directory is NOT the home of the media manager.
The home of the media manager in core Joomla! is the images directory.
Figure 3: Media manager directory in ftp client
When you look in the toolbar you will discover the Options icon - go ahead and click on it (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Media manager options
If you go through the options, you will notice that you can limit file types by extension, maximum size of a file and you can also separate images from files. Well, an image is a file, too, but I like the idea of separating them. The thumbnail view, e.g., makes a lot more sense for images but not for non-image files. The biggest advantage of that separation is the possibility to Restrict Uploads to users lower than the manager role. You can allow registered users to upload images but you do not have to give permission to upload other files. This is, in some cases, very useful. The next options you see are MIME types, nowadays often called Internet Media Type. If you are a Windows user, you usually only distinguish different file types by their extension. Internet Media Type is another way to recognize the type of a file even without a file extension. You can permit or forbid as many file types as desired.
The Flash Uploader is one of the most sophisticated features that is often forgotten about. In Joomla! 1.5 it didn't always work properly but the version coming since Joomla! 1.6 is excellent for uploading more than one file at a time. The Flash Uploader simply works and is easy to use, even in 1.7 :)! Try it! (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Media manager Flash Uploader
As you notice, the Joomla! media manager is no rocket science but it is a reliable, easy to use tool to manage your images and other files.
If you need a more sophisticated product, Joomla! offers other solutions in the extension directory in the category File Management.
Media manager and the editor
Now you know about the central place of your files but how can you manage to connect them to your content?
Anywhere you see an editor in Joomla!, it is usually possible to add media from the media manager by clicking the image button below. We have already talked about this when we created a typical article with a photo (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Media manager in content areas
Media Manager in other places
There are other places where the media manager plays a role, like in categories. It is possible to link an image to a category (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Media manager in category
This image will appear in a list of categories if you configure it in the Menu Items Options.