Disable Automatic Removal of WordPress Responsive Image Markup: A Comprehensive Guide

Responsive images significantly enhance your WordPress site’s user experience by serving optimized images for different screen sizes and devices. This optimization is achieved through the srcset and sizes attributes, which WordPress adds automatically to <img> tags. However, in some cases, themes, plugins, or settings might strip out this responsive image markup, leading to sub-optimal image loading. This guide delves into the nuances of when and how to disable the automatic removal of responsive image markup in WordPress.

When to Consider Disabling Automatic Removal

In your WordPress journey, there are specific scenarios where preventing the stripping of responsive image markup is beneficial:

  1. Using a Custom Image Optimization Plugin: Tools like WP Rocket or Smush handle image optimization independently. In such cases, the default responsive image attributes might conflict with these plugins, necessitating their removal.
  2. Theme-Specific Requirements: Certain WordPress themes have unique ways of handling image optimization. Adhering to these requirements might require disabling the automatic markup.
  3. Debugging Image Optimization Issues: Sometimes, to troubleshoot conflicts in image optimization, it’s useful to disable the removal of responsive image markup.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that removing responsive image markup can have negative impacts, such as:

  • Reduced Page Speed: Without responsive markup, your site might load larger, unoptimized image files across all devices, slowing down the site.
  • SEO Challenges: Google and other search engines prefer sites with responsive image markup, as it enhances the user experience.
  • Accessibility Concerns: Optimized images are not just about aesthetics; they also improve site performance for users with assistive technologies like screen readers.

Before taking the step to disable, weigh in alternative solutions like employing a content delivery network (CDN) or pre-optimizing images using tools like ImageMagick.

Remember, managing your WordPress site’s image optimization is a balancing act. While it’s essential to maintain control over your site’s appearance and functionality, it’s equally important to ensure that your adjustments don’t compromise the overall performance and user experience. For more insights on optimizing your WordPress site, consider exploring resources like the Divi Builder Review for additional tips and tricks.

Methods for Disabling Automatic Removal

There are a couple approaches to disabling the automatic removal of responsive image markup in WordPress:

Method 1: Using Code Snippets

Adding functions to your theme’s functions.php file allows granular control over image markup.

To disable responsive image attributes globally:

add_filter( 'wp_calculate_image_srcset', '__return_false' );

To disable for specific images by ID:

// Disable for image with ID 123
add_filter( 'wp_calculate_image_srcset', function( $sources, $size_array, $image_src, $image_meta, $attachment_id ) {

  if ( $attachment_id == 123 ) {
    return false; 

  return $sources;

}, 10, 5 );

Remember to use a child theme and back up your code.

Method 2: Using Plugins

Plugins like Disable Responsive Images and EWWW Image Optimizer include options to disable responsive image markup removal.

Disable Responsive Images lets you disable image markup globally or for individual images. Install the plugin, activate, then visit Settings > Responsive Images to configure options.

EWWW Image Optimizer has an “Lazy Load” setting that can be enabled to prevent stripping of srcset. Simply install, activate, then check the “Disable Auto-Generation of Responsive Images” option.

These plugins provide user-friendly ways to override default WordPress responsive image handling.

Best Practices and Considerations

When disabling automatic responsive image removal, keep these tips in mind:

  • Test performance impacts using PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix before and after to confirm your changes improve image loading.
  • Optimize images with tools like Smush to maximize quality and performance regardless of responsive settings.
  • Consider accessibility needs by providing optimized image files and alt text.
  • Monitor SEO and user experience to ensure disabling responsive markup does not negatively impact rankings or engagement.


Responsively serving images is an important optimization in WordPress. However, you may need to override the automatic generation of srcset and sizes in some cases.

Carefully test the outcomes of disabling this feature and utilize additional image optimizations. With the right approach, you can fine-tune image handling on your site for the best performance.

Let us know if you have any other questions! Our team of WordPress developers and SEO experts are happy to help.


What is the best practice for image optimization in WordPress?

The ideal approach is to use automatic responsive images alongside other optimizations like Smush and a CDN. Only disable automatic generation if needed to resolve a specific issue.

Will disabling responsive markup hurt my Google ranking?

It shouldn’t directly impact ranking, but may negatively affect page loading speeds and user experience, which are ranking factors. Properly optimized images can avoid this.

What should I do if disabling responsive images causes problems?

First, revert any changes and restore the default markup generation. Then optimize images via plugins/tools and consider alternative solutions like using a CDN. Only disable as a last resort.

How can I speed up my image loading if not using responsive markup?

Using a CDN, optimizing images, and adding lazy loading can all dramatically improve loading speeds. You may also try lower quality images or fewer image sizes.

Is there a way to selectively disable responsive images?

Yes, you can use code snippets in functions.php or a plugin to disable markup for only certain images you specify, instead of globally. This allows for more selective optimization.

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