Folders and collections

Cloudinary provides two methods for organizing and sharing your assets: folders and collections.

  • Folders are asset containers and are an integral part of the asset path (public ID).
  • Collections are a dynamic way to create conceptual groupings of assets, regardless of their folder structure.

You can use folders and collections in any Cloudinary account. However, the sharing and permissions functionality is relevant only for multiple user accounts.

Comparison chart

A single asset can be in stored in a folder path and can also be included in one or more collections. The table below provides a comparison of the primary differences between these two organization methods.

Folders Collections
Duplication An asset is saved with a specific folder path.

Two identical assets with the same name, but different folder paths are completely different entities with different public IDs.

The same asset can be included in multiple collections.
Structure Multi-level hierarchy Flat
SEO Folder paths are a part of the asset's URL and thus can provide an SEO benefit. Collections are a conceptual, internal grouping and thus have no impact on SEO.
Moving assets between Moving an asset from folder to folder changes its URL and can cause broken links.

For the above reason, when choosing the folder structure for an asset, you should generally consider folders as a relatively "permanent" placement. They shouldn't be used as a method of assigning status or any other temporary organizational strategy.

You don't have an option to move an asset from one collection to another. You can include an asset in multiple collections, or you can delete from one and add to another. These changes have no impact on the asset URLs
Removing/deleting assets Deleting an asset from a folder deletes the asset from your account and can cause broken links.
(Deleted assets are recoverable if your account has backups enabled)
Removing an asset from the collection just takes it out of that grouping. The asset remains in your account and in its current folder path.
Renaming You cannot rename a folder. Renaming a collection does not impact the assets in it. The collection rename takes effect immediately for everyone who has permissions to view it (refresh may be required).
Creating All users can create folders under any folder where they have Can Contribute or higher permissions. Users with a Media Library user role must be given explicit permissions to create collections by an account administrator.
Sharing and
Folders can be shared with either user groups or individual account users at a variety of permission levels.

The permissions control what operations users can perform on the assets in a folder as well as whether users can further share the folders.

Collections can be shared with either user groups or individual account users at a variety of permission levels.

The permissions control who can access, modify which assets are inside, and whether they can further share the collection. They do not impact what operations users can perform on individual assets inside the collection. However, when you share a collection, then those users or group members will be able to view all assets in the collection, even if some or all assets in the collection are in folders that are not shared with that group.

You can additionally share your collection with external parties via a generated link to a webpage that displays the assets in your collection.

Folder management

You can create folders and sub-folders to organize your assets and to control which user groups can access the contents of each folder. When you are in the Folders view (Navigation menu > Folders), the full folder path of the folder you are currently viewing is shown on the top left of the Media Library next to the Folders button.

The cloud icon represents the Home (root) folder of the Media Library.    folder bar

Depending on your user role and/or permissions, you can perform some or all of the folder operations described below:

Browse folders

You can browse through folders in a variety of ways:

  • From the navigation menu navigation menu, click Folders. This brings you to the Home (root) folder. This is useful if you are in another view, such as search results or collections.
  • Expand the Folders pane to view all folders in an expandable folder tree view.
    folders pane
  • Expand the Folders drop-down, to view all sub-folders of the current folder as small grid icons.
    folders drop-down

Folder preview details

Single-click a folder to view summary details about the folder in the Preview pane, including total number of assets, total file size of the contents, date an asset was last uploaded to the folder and details about which user groups and users have access to the folder.

  • The details relate to the selected folder and all sub-folders.
  • The permission details are visible to all users with an admin role as well as to users with Can Manage permissions for the folder.

Folder preview details

Tips for browsing folders

  • Double-click a folder in the Folders drop-down or single click a folder in the Folders pane to view the contents of the folder.
  • When in a non-folder view, such as search results or a collection view, you can navigate to the containing folder of a selected asset by right-clicking the asset and selecting Show folder or by clicking the folder link displayed on the bottom of the card.
  • You can filter the asset types displayed in a folder by selecting from the Asset type filter list: All, Images, Video & Audio or Others (Raw).
  • Contrary to folder views, search results show results from all folders (unless otherwise specified). If you want to view all assets in all folders in a single view, you can select All in the Asset type list, and then while the Search bar is empty, click the Search button. Or alternatively, select Search all assets from the Navigation menu.
  • If you know the name of the folder you want to view (or a part of it), you can quickly navigate to it from any view via the Media Library Search bar. As you type, any folder names matching the characters you've entered will be included in the search filter (along with assets, collections, and other entities that match your query). You can easily identify folders by the folder icon. Clicking on the folder in the search filter navigates directly to it. Search to navigate to collection

Create folders

The easiest way to create folders or subfolders is from the Add Folder button near the folder path breadcrumbs. You can also create a new folder when moving assets to a new location.

Delete folders

You can select to Delete a folder from the options menu located next to the folder name. Deleting a folder will delete all the contents of the selected folder including all subfolders.

Download folders

You can download a copy of a folder and all of its contents including any sub-folders by selecting the Download option from the options menu located next to the folder name.

  • The folder is downloaded as a zip file that maintains the complete folder structure.
  • For larger folders, it may take a few moments for Cloudinary to compile the zip file and begin downloading it.
  • Some folders may be too large to download (based on quantity of items or total file size). A message is displayed if the folder you select exceeds these limits.

Move assets between folders

You can select one or multiple assets from a folder or from the search results and move them to an existing or new folder. As mentioned above, the folder structure is part of the asset's delivery URL, so it's important to make sure that the assets you select to move are not currently in production, or that the code for all relevant assets will be updated accordingly. Additionally, keep in mind that moving assets to another folder may impact which user groups will have access permissions for those assets.

Developers can also perform the above actions programmatically using the Admin API.

Share folders

If you have multiple users in your account, and some of those users have the Media Library User role, you can share folders at various permission levels with users or user groups. For details, see Folder sharing and permissions.

Collection management

If you either have an admin role or you have Can manage permissions for a particular collection, you can perform all of the operations described below. If you have lower-level permissions, you may only be able to perform some of these operations:

Collection management video tutorial

This tutorial walks you through some of the basics of creating and managing collections to organize your assets.

Create and add assets to collections

To define new collections:

  • From the navigation pane, select Collections, and then click the Add collection button, and enter the name of the new collection.


  • From any asset view (e.g. from a folder, search results, another existing collection, etc.), select one or more assets and click Add to collection from the asset toolbar. Alternatively, for a single asset, right-click the asset and select Add to collection from the context menu. In the Add to Collection dialog box, enter the name of your new collection, click the new collection name and click Add. This creates the new collection and adds the selected asset(s) to it. In the confirmation message that pops up, you can click Browse to navigate to the new collection.

To add assets to existing collections:

From a folder or from the search results, select one or more assets, click Add to collection from the asset toolbar, and then click in the collection name box. This loads the names of all existing collections. Once loaded, you can either scroll to select the collection or type to filter the list.


  • All users with admin roles can create collections. Users with the Media Library User role must be given permissions to Create Collections by the account administrator.
  • Depending on your folder permissions, you may also be able to add new assets directly to a currently displayed collection by dragging-and-dropping from your file system to the open collection or by clicking the Upload button. However, keep in mind that in addition to adding the asset to your collection, it will upload the asset to the root folder of your account, which is not a best practice if you have multiple Media Library users in your account.

View collections available to you

If you have a Media Library user role, then you have access to any collections that you create as well as collections that others in your organization created and shared directly with you or with a user group that you are a member of.

If you have an admin role, then all collections created by any account user will be included in the collections that are shared with you.

To view your collections and those shared with you, select Collections from the navigation pane.

Collections view

Navigating to a collection

If you know the name of the collection you want to view (or a part of it), you can quickly navigate to it from any view via the Media Library Search bar. As you type, any collection names matching the characters you've entered will be included in the search filter (along with assets, folders, and other entities that match your query). You can easily identify collections by the collection icon. Clicking on the collection in the search filter navigates directly to it.

Search to navigate to collection

Collection Preview details

Single-click a collection in the Collection view to view (or edit) summary details about the collection in the Preview pane, including the number of assets in it, the total file size of the contents, who created it, when it was created or last modified, the collection description, whether the collection is included in the Media Portal, and groups or users the selected collection is shared with.

If you have an admin role, you can even add a collection to the Media Portal or share the collection publicly, directly from this view.

Collection preview details

Download collection assets

You can download the contents of any collection you created or that is shared with you as a zipped file. Right-click the collection or click the options button on the collection and select Download.

Add/edit collection descriptions

If you are the creator or have Can manage permissions for a collection, you can add a description for the collection.

  • If your collection is shared internally, this description can give details on the intended purpose of the collection and provide contribution guidelines for other collection users.
  • If you share a collection externally or your collection is included in your account's Media Portal, this description is displayed for external viewers immediately above the assets of that collection.

You add or update collection descriptions by clicking the Edit link in the Preview pane Description entry.
(If the Preview pane is closed, right-click the collection and select Preview or click the Show Preview Pane show Preview Pane icon to open it).

Rename collections

If you are the creator or have Can Manage permissions for a collection, you can rename the collection by right-clicking it from the Collections view and selecting Rename.

You can also rename the collection from the Preview pane.
(If the Preview pane is closed, right-click the collection and select Preview or click the Show Preview Pane show Preview Pane icon to open it).

When renaming a collection, the name is updated for all account users who have access to the collection.

Delete collections or remove assets from collections

When you remove assets from a collection or delete an entire collection, the assets still remain in your Media Library, they are just no longer grouped together in that collection. However, there may be users who had access to those assets only via that collection, so removing assets or deleting collections may prevent some users from being able to view those assets.

To delete a collection:

From the Collections view, right-click the Collection and select Delete.

To remove assets from a collection:

Display the contents of the relevant collection, select the assets you want to remove, and click Remove from the assets toolbar. You can also remove a single asset from the collection by right-clicking it and selecting Remove from collection.

Share collections

If you have multiple users in your account, and some of those users have the Media Library User role, you can share collections with select user groups or individual account users at various permission levels. You can also generate a public link that can enable stakeholders without access to your Cloudinary account to view or download the assets in a collection in a dedicated collect web page. The URL can be generated with or without an expiration date.

For details, see Collection sharing and permissions.

Folder sharing and permissions

Media Library administrators and managers can control access to assets by sharing folders (and thus their contents) with selected users or user groups at varying levels of access permissions, from full management control to view-only access. Conversely, you can prevent access to a folder's contents by not sharing that folder with a specific user or user group at all.

The option to limit access to selected folders applies only to account users in the Media Library user role. Users in any other role that has access to the Media Library will always have full access to all folders and assets in the Media Library.

If you are an account admin setting up a new account with multiple users and you want to control which folders various groups of Media Library users can view or access, it's recommended to follow a process similar to the following:

Folder sharing and permissions workflow

If you are sharing folders with user groups, it's recommended to complete the above process before creating new users and adding them to groups. This ensures that the new users will already have access to the relevant folders and assets when they enter the Media Library for the first time.

Folder sharing and permissions video tutorial

This tutorial walks you through the steps described above.

After watching this overview video, continue reading the sections below to learn all of the details and considerations related to folder sharing and permissions.

How to share folders

To share a folder, you must have one of the following account roles:

  • Any of the admin roles
  • A Media Library user role AND with Can Manage permissions on the folder you want to share.

To share a folder, do one of the following:

  • Select Share from the options drop-down next to the current folder path at the top of the Media Library
  • Select Share from the kebab menu available in the Folders grid.
Folder path drop-down Folder grid options

Folder permission levels

When you select to share a folder, you can set one of the following permission levels (applies to the folder and all its sub-folders): Can view, Can contribute, Can edit, Can Manage.

The table below summarizes the permissions available to each level:

Can View Can Contribute Can Edit Can Manage
View assets
Download assets
Edit transformations 1
(via Edit Transformation page or directly in browser URL)
Comment on assets
Search (including Advanced Search) 2
Upload assets
Create sub-folders
Overwrite existing on upload
Edit assets 3
(tags, custom metadata, rename, move to another folder)
Moderate assets 4
Delete assets
Delete the folder
Share the folder

1 Editing transformations does not have any impact on the original asset, but any new transformations that are generated are counted in the account's monthly transformations counts.

2 Search results will include only assets where the user has at least Can view permissions

3 Users with Can Contribute permissions can use the Add tags option in the Media Library upload widget while uploading, but cannot add tags to existing assets.

4 Only Media Library users with Can Edit or Can Manage permissions on the Home (root) folder can view the overall Moderation Queue (which can be accessed from the Moderation option in the left navigation menu. Users with Can Edit or Can Manage permissions for specific folders can open one of those folders and apply moderation on selected assets.

Folder sharing guidelines and best practices

When planning your folder sharing strategy, consider the following:

  • Sharing rights:
    • Users in the Media Library users role with Can manage permissions for a folder can share that folder and its sub-folders. Users with lower level permissions cannot share a folder.
    • Any user in a role other than Media library user, Reports, or Billing can access, share, and manage all folders and assets in the Media Library.
    • Only a user in one of the above categories can see which user groups a folder is shared with, and how many users are in each of those groups.
  • Sharing with multiple groups: You can share a folder with multiple users and user groups at the same or at different levels.
  • Permissions on subfolders:
    • When you share a folder at a certain level, that permission level cascades down to all subfolders under it.
    • You can increase the permission level for a particular user or group in a sub-folder of a folder they already have access to, but you cannot decrease their permission level.
      For this reason, it's recommended to minimize permissions given to Media Library users at high-level folders, and especially on the Home (root) folder.
    • Best practice: If you are setting up folder permissions for a new account where no assets are yet in production, it's recommended not to store assets directly in the Home folder, and to avoid sharing the Home folder with all or most Media Library users or user groups.
    • If you do not share a folder (nor any parent of that folder) with a particular user or group at all, those users will not be able to see that folder or the contents inside it. Even when performing a search on all folders, the results will only include folders where the user has at least view permissions.
      Similarly, if you don't share any folders with a particular user or user group, then those users will not have access to any assets in the Media Library.
      Exception: If assets from a particular folder are included in a collection, and that collection is shared with a user group or users who otherwise do not have access to that folder, those users will still be able to view and download (but not modify) the assets in that collection.
  • Multiple user groups and permission levels: If a user belongs to multiple groups, and the same folder is shared to each of those groups at different permission levels (which are higher than the permissions they may have received individually), then the highest of those permission levels applies to the user.

Collection sharing and permissions

Collections often represent a group of assets targeted for a particular purpose. Once created, you may need to collaborate with other people either inside or outside of your organization regarding the compiled set of assets.

You can share collections internally with other user groups or individual Media Library users at varying levels of access permissions.

You can also generate a web page displaying your collection's assets and share the link to this page with relevant external stakeholders, such as graphic designers, partners, or employees at your organization who are not DAM users. The web page will be available to those with a link during an optionally specified date range.

Users in an admin role can view and share any collection in the account. For a Media Library user to share a collection, they must both:

  • Be assigned Share collection permissions. This permission is set per user by an account administrator in the User settings.

  • Be the creator of the collection or have Can manage permissions on the collection they want to share.

To open the Share Collection dialog box:

  • From the main Collection view, right-click or click the (3-dots) options menu of a collection and select Share.
  • From the main Collection view, select a collection and click Share in the Preview pane. (If the Preview pane is closed, click the Open Preview button Preview Pane toggle button to display it.)
  • When viewing the contents of a collection, select Share from the options drop-down next to the current collection path displayed at the top left of the Media Library.

Share Collection dialog box

From this dialog box, you can share collections internally or externally.

Collection sharing video tutorial

This video demonstrates how to to share a collection with both internal and external users.

Sharing collections internally

When you share a collection internally, the Media Library users or user group members can see the shared collection and the collection creator's name in the main Collections view under a section called Shared with me, as shown in View collections available to you.

To share a collection internally, open the Share collection dialog box and then select the users and/or user groups you want to share with, as well as the permission level for each.

Collection permissions

When sharing a collection with users or user groups, you can set one of the following permission levels:
Can view, Can share, Can collaborate, Can manage.

The table below summarizes the permissions available to each level:

Can view Can share Can collaborate Can manage
View assets in the collection1
Download assets in the collection
Share collection or external URL2
Add assets to the collection
Remove assets from collection
Rename the collection
Delete collection

1 Anyone with Can view or higher permissions to a collection can view (but not otherwise modify) all assets in that collection, even if they don't have Can view permissions for the folders containing those assets.

2 Even if a collection was shared with a user group or Media Library user at Can manage level permissions, the user must also have Share Collection permissions (set by an account user administrator) in order to share the collection with others.

Sharing collections externally

If you want to share a collection with a stakeholder outside your Cloudinary account, you can generate a public link that will enable external parties to view all assets in your collection in the form of a dedicated collection web page. You can also optionally set a date range for the collection web page, outside of which the web site is not available.

To generate a collection web page link:

  1. Open the Share Collection dialog box for a collection.
  2. In the Share a public link section, click Create public URL.
  3. If you want to control the availability dates, click URL options and set the start and end dates.
    Even after sharing the collection web site link, you can change the availability dates at any time or click the Delete Link button to immediately disable the web page.
  4. Use the Copy URL button to quickly copy the link. You can also copy the link from the Preview pane when that collection is selected in the main Collections view. You can then take a look at the collection web page in any browser or share it with your external stakeholders.

Share Collection dialog box

From this web page, you can click to preview individual assets, download individual assets, copy the delivery URL of individual assets, or download the entire collection as a zip file.

Changes to your collection, including assets added or removed, renaming of assets or of the collection itself, are immediately reflected in the generated web page (upon refresh).

Notes and considerations for sharing collections externally

  • The collection web page displays all assets in the collection, including those with special access control restrictions. When you select to share a collection with restricted assets, a warning is displayed in the Share dialog box. Additionally, the generated web page is set as noindex, so it won't be found by search engines, but anyone with the link will be able to preview and download a copy of all assets in the collection.

    Therefore, make sure you share these links only with stakeholders you trust, especially if it includes restricted or otherwise sensitive content. It's also good practice to ensure the collection web page will be removed when your external stakeholders no longer need it, by setting an expiration date.
  • Because changes to your collection are immediately reflected in the shared web page, it's important to make sure that all users who have Can collaborate or Can manage permissions to the shared collection are aware that any changes they make to a shared collection will also impact external stakeholders.
  • Fetched and social media assets are not supported for externally shared collections.
  • When someone selects to download a collection and a zip file is created for them, that zip file is stored as a raw file in your Cloudinary account under an automatically generated folder called generated_public_links.
    • If any changes are made to the collection, then the next time someone requests to download the collection, an updated zip file is generated for that request. The updated zip file replaces the existing one in the generated_public_links folder.
    • If you rename the collection after a zip file has already been created, the next time someone requests to download the collection, a different zip file will be created based on the new name of the collection.

Media Portal (Beta)

The Cloudinary Media Portal enables you to automatically generate and then publish images and videos from multiple collections in the form of a user-friendly and responsive web page. Your target audience can then preview or download any of the included media files individually, or download a zip file of an entire collection. Updates (asset additions, removals, renames, etc.) to any of the collections included in your portal are immediately reflected in your published portal. You can publish or unpublish your portal at any time.

The Media Portal can be used for a variety of different purposes. Some common use cases include Brand portal, Product launch portal, Photo gallery portal, or Event portal.

The Media Portal is currently in BETA and available for DAM customers on a custom plan to try. There may be minor changes in functionality or appearance before the general access release. Let us know if you'd like us to activate the new Media Portal feature for your DAM account. We would appreciate any feedback via our support team.

Media portal example

Read more about the Media Portal and common use cases in this blog post.

Create your Media Portal

Prerequisite: Make sure the Portal feature has been enabled for your account.

  1. Select Portal from the Media Library navigation pane, and in the landing page that opens, click Create New Portal.
  2. In the Create Portal form, enter a Title and Delivery name for your portal.
    • The Title acts as the meta-title (browser tab label) for your portal. You can modify the title at any time.
    • The Description enables you to provide details about your portal for your end users. The portal description is displayed just below the portal title on the portal page. For those collections in your portal that have collection descriptions defined, those descriptions are displayed just below the title of each collection.
    • The Delivery name is the last element in your portal's URL. Once you Save your initial portal, this value cannot be changed. The rest of the portal's URL structure is standard and currently cannot be customized. You can see what the full URL will look like directly below the Delivery name field.
  3. Select one or more collections to include in your portal. You can add, remove, or change the order of the collections during the portal creation process or at any time in the future.
  4. Click the Create button.

Modify, publish, or unpublish the Media Portal

  1. Select Portal from the Media Library navigation pane to open the Portal Settings page.
  2. Modify the Title or the Portal Collections included in your portal.
  3. When ready, you can change the status of the portal to Published.
  4. When you Save your changes after changing the status to Published, your portal will immediately go live, and you can click the adjacent Open portal button to view it.
  5. To unpublish your portal (immediately block all access to the portal URL), change the status to Unpublished and click Save.

Media Portal notes and considerations

  • The portal can be created or modified only by users with one of the admin roles.
  • Currently, you can create one Media Portal per cloud.
  • While published, the portal is accessible to anyone with the link.
  • When anyone with an admin role selects a collection from the main Collections view, the Preview pane indicates whether the collection is already included in the portal, and also enables you to easily add or remove the collection. Collection preview - portal section
  • Although only admins can create a portal or choose to add or remove collections from the portal, any user with Can contribute or higher permissions for a particular collection can make changes to the collection, including which assets are included in that collection or the name of the collection. Additionally, anyone with Can edit or higher permissions to a folder containing assets from any of your portal collections can delete or rename those assets.

    Any of the above types of changes will immediately impact the assets that your target portal users see in your portal. Therefore, as an administrator of your cloud's portal, it's a best practice to carefully choose the users who have permissions to modify the collections you include in a portal. You should also consider the permissions of the folders where your collection assets are stored.

  • Fetched images cannot be displayed in the portal. Additionally, while social media profile pictures are successfully displayed in the portal, an error occurs if you try to download one of them, or to download an entire collection that contains a social media image.

  • Some portal administration functionality, such as changing the order of collections, may be limited when accessing the Portal Settings page from a mobile device.

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