Function and usage of get_attached_file() in wordpress


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    The get_attached_file() function in WordPress is an essential tool for developers working with media files. Here's a detailed explanation of its function and usage:


    get_attached_file( int $attachment_id, bool $unfiltered = false ): string|false


    • Purpose: The primary function of get_attached_file() is to retrieve the file path of an attachment (like an image, video, or document) in WordPress, based on the provided attachment ID.
    • Behavior: By default, the returned file path is passed through the ‘get_attached_file’ filter. This filter allows for modification of the file path if needed, for instance, changing the directory structure or applying specific alterations based on certain conditions.
    • Unfiltered Argument: If the $unfiltered parameter is set to true, the function will bypass the ‘get_attached_file’ filter and return the direct, unaltered file path.
    • Internal Working: Internally, this function retrieves the _wp_attached_file post meta value. The _wp_attached_file meta value holds the relative path to the file upload location in the WordPress directory structure.
    • Convenience: It's a convenience function designed to avoid the need for manually looking up the meta name and to offer a mechanism for processing the attached filename through a filter.


    1. $attachment_id (int, required): This is the ID of the attachment for which the file path is being retrieved. Attachment IDs are typically integers that uniquely identify each media file in the WordPress database.
    2. $unfiltered (bool, optional): Determines whether to bypass the 'get_attached_file' filter. By default, this is set to false, meaning the file path will be filtered.


    • Type: string|false
    • Description: It returns the file path to where the attached file is located. If no file is found, or if the attachment ID is invalid, the function returns false.

    Sample Usage:

    Here's an example of how get_attached_file() might be used in a WordPress plugin or theme:

    $attachment_id = 123; // Assume this is a valid attachment ID
    $file_path = get_attached_file($attachment_id);
    if ($file_path !== false) {
        echo "The file path is: " . $file_path;
    } else {
        echo "No file found for this attachment ID.";

    In this example, get_attached_file() is used to retrieve the file path for an attachment with the ID 123. It checks whether the returned value is not false, and if so, it prints the file path. If false is returned, it indicates no file was found for the given attachment ID.

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