Managing individual media assets

You can display the list of assets from any view (Folders, Search, Collections, Moderation, etc) either as a grid of square thumbnail cards (Grid View) or as an asset list (List View).

You can switch between these views using the View toggle button View toggle button at the top right of the main Asset Pane.

Asset card (Grid View) Asset list item (List View)

Asset operations

For any displayed asset in any Media Library view, you can:

Operation Enables you to Details
Single-click the asset View or edit summary details and metadata (tags, structured, contextual) in the Preview pane The Preview pane is available on the right side of the screen. If the Preview pane is closed, click the Open Preview button Preview Pane toggle button to display it.
Double-click the asset
Click the Manage icon
Manage the asset Opens the Asset Management drill-down page where you can view or edit summary, metadata, and analysis data.
Click the checkmark icon Select one or more assets to perform bulk operations Perform any of the operations available in the displayed asset toolbar on all selected assets at once.

For example, you can delete selected assets, add/remove tags or custom metadata, move assets, download them, apply a moderation status, or generate a Product Gallery.

Click the Copy URL icon Copy the asset's delivery URL Enables easy sharing of public assets.
Click the Edit icon Edit the asset Opens the Edit page where you can apply a variety of asset adjustments or generate sophisticated image or video transformations.
Right-click the asset
Click the Options vertical ellipsis button
Open the asset's context menu Provides another way to access many of the above options as well as additional operations. For example, you can open the Access control options, navigate to the asset's containing folder (when you are currently in a non-folder view) or delete the asset.

Asset management drill-down

The asset management drill-down page enables you to:

  • View, set, or adjust Summary, Metadata, and Analysis data for a specific media asset.
  • Preview the asset with or without indications for detected elements, such as detected faces.
  • See how an image would look with a variety of pre-defined or custom transformations using the Transformation Presets bar.
  • Make simple image edits such as cropping, rotating, or flipping an image and either download or save the updated version using the Media Editor.
  • Collaborate on the asset with other account users in the Comments Pane, including using the standard @username notation to mention (tag) other account users. When you mention a user, they receive an email with your comments and a quick link to view the comments in the Asset Management page. The Comments pane is available only for accounts with multiple users.

Modifying an asset requires at least Can edit permissions. If you have a Media Library user role with Can view or Can contribute permissions for the folder where a particular asset is stored, some of the options described below will not be available to you. For details, see Folder sharing and permissions.

You can open the asset management drill-down page by double-clicking the asset, or by clicking the Manage button Manage icon from a variety of locations, including the buttons on each asset, the Preview pane, or the Edit page.

Summary tab

Enables you to view basic details about the asset, to view or set the asset's access control mode, or to view and restore previous versions of the asset.

Asset Management Summary tab

Metadata tab

Enables you to:

  • View or update tags and custom metadata values for the asset.
  • View the asset's embedded metadata (such as the EXIF data stored with photos).

Asset Management Metadata tab

Metadata notes and tips

  • The tags shown in this tab include both tags that were added manually and any tags that were automatically generated by auto-tagging add-ons, either programmatically, during upload as defined by an upload preset or via the Analysis tab.
  • Depending on the Media Library preferences set for your account, this tab may show both structured and contextual metadata, or it may only show one or the other of these.

    • Structured metadata fields are defined globally for the account. Users with edit permissions for the asset can update the values in this tab.
    • Contextual metadata fields are defined individually for each asset. Users with edit permissions for the asset can add or remove fields and values.

    For more details, see Custom metadata.

  • When you add, remove, or change the values in any editable section of the Metadata tab, the section is marked as Editing... and the Save button becomes enabled. When you're finished with changes to that section, you should save your changes. If you try to close the browser tab or navigate to another area of the Media Library or console, you'll be prompted to save your changes.

    If you decide to to close the tab or navigate away without saving, all changes to unsaved metadata sections will be reverted to their previous state.

  • For assets with long lists of embedded metadata, you can use the Filter data box to find the type of embedded metadata you're looking for. Additionally, depending on the Media Library preferences set for your account, it's possible that only a select set of embedded metadata fields will be included in the list.

Analysis tab

Relevant for images only. Enables you to view the results of automated AI analyses that have already been performed on the asset. Cloudinary runs some of these analyses automatically on every asset. Others require registration to an add-on. If you are not already registered for a particular add-on, you can register for the add-on's free tier and run the engine on the displayed asset directly from this pane.

Asset Management Analysis tab

All analysis data is stored with your asset and can be used as the basis for a variety of asset management features:

  • Auto-tagging - Utilizes one or more auto-tagging add-ons, each of which apply deep learning AI models to identify types of objects in your image and return the list of categories it finds. You can adjust the confidence level to view additional categories or limit the list to those with a higher confidence level. You can then mark specific categories to add them as tags on your asset, or choose the option to add all the displayed categories as tags.

  • Face and Celebrity detection - Utilizes various algorithms and AI engines to determine the number and location of faces in your image. For celebrity detection, it also indicates the names of any celebrities detected and the accuracy confidence level. Each face/celebrity detection option displays the coordinates of the faces it finds in the form of color-coded frames within the preview area on the right. You can use the show/hide buttons for each engine to show or hide these frames. The detected faces data can be used for a number of face-detection options. For example, this data can be used to add overlays to every captured face, to blur or pixelate faces, or to apply face-detection based cropping so that you never crop out a face, and more. For the built-in face detection, you also have the option to adjust, add, or remove face coordinates (frames) and save the new face data with your image.

  • Area of interest - Enables you to define a custom-area of interest. This area will then be taken into account, or in some cases override other special areas, when Cloudinary programmatically crops, applies overlays, or performs other area-based transformations.

  • OCR - Captures text inside your images. Each phrase (line of text) that it captures is displayed in the tab and highlighted in the preview area. Similar to face-detection, you can add overlays to cover text, blur or pixelate text, or ensure that text doesn't get cut off if your images are automatically cropped for delivery.

  • Color analysis - Gives you information about the main colors in your image. Cloudinary can use these colors to automatically add background padding to images in a color that looks good with your image. If you have access to the Image Analysis tab (premium) of the Media Library's advanced search, you can search for images based on their predominant colors. And of-course your developers can retrieve these colors to implement color-related functionality in your application.


  • The information in the Analysis tab relates to the original image. Therefore, the information in this tab is displayed only when the Original asset is selected in the Transformation Presets bar.
  • Data returned from the Analysis tab is also available to developers via API, which enables them to use it to implement additional functionality in your user-facing applications. For example, they can extract the detected text returned from the OCR add-on or retrieve the colors returned from the color analysis to implement color-related functionality in your application UI.

Transformation presets (images only)

When an image is displayed in the Management drill-down page, several transformation presets just below the asset preview area enable you to see how the selected image would look with those transformations applied.

You can click the preset thumbnails to preview the transformation. For any displayed transformation preset (or for the original), you can see basic image details such as image resolution or file size, and you can perform operations such as opening the displayed image in a new tab, downloading it, copying the URL, or further editing the transformation in the transformation editor.

Several transformation presets are provided by default. Alternatively, you can set named transformations (maximum 30) to act as your account's transformation presets.

To set an existing named transformation as a custom transformation preset:

  1. In the Named Transformations page of the Management console, hover over the named transformation you want to use as a transformation preset and open the menu using the kebab (3 dots) icon.

  2. From the menu, turn on the Show in image presets option.

    Make sure the named transformation definition does not include any video-specific transformations or user-defined variables.

If you set one or more named transformations as custom transformation presets, the default transformations are no longer displayed. To revert to the default transformations, open the Named Transformations page and turn off the Show in image presets for each relevant named transformation.


  • Transformation presets can be a convenient way to see how an image may look in different file formats. To create a preset for this purpose, create a new named transformation, set the fetch format option (not the format parameter) to the relevant file format, and give the named transformation an appropriate name, such as "PNG format" or similar. Then select to Add to Presets as described above. (If creating the named transformation from the Transformation user interface, Fetch format is available under More options.)
  • When you click a transformation preset in the Management drill-down page to preview an image with that preset, it doesn't count against your account's transformation quota. However, the first time someone views that preset transformation for a specific asset outside the Media Library (open in a browser tab, download, etc.), a derived image is generated for your account and counts like any other image transformation.

Media Editor (images only)

When an image is displayed in the Management drill-down page, you can click the Edit Image button to open the Media Editor.

From this view, you can easily crop an uploaded image based on one of the available crop preset aspect ratios, manually set a required crop width and height, or just manually resize the crop handlebars. You can also choose to flip or rotate the image.

When manually setting width and height values, the aspect ratio is locked by default. If you want to adjust the crop to other sizes, toggle the icon to unlock the aspect ratio.

DAM Media Editor

The options in the Media Editor enable you to easily make these simple modifications without an external editing tool or the need to request a designer's assistance.

When you're finished with your edits, you can either download the edited version without modifying the original or you can click Save to overwrite the original asset with your updated version.

If backups are enabled for your account, then you'll be able to easily revert to a previous version if needed.

Depending on the settings for your account, overwriting an asset may clear the tags, contextual, and structured metadata values for that asset. If you have a master admin role, you can change this behavior for your account in the Media Library Preferences pane, so that these field values are retained when new version assets overwrite older ones (unless you specify different values for the tags, context, or metadata parameters as part of your upload).

Transformation and asset details editor

The Edit page enables you to experiment with the various transformations available for the selected image or video using simple UI elements in the transformation editor and to view and edit asset details.

Using the transformation editor

Edit transformation UI

The most common transformations are displayed on the page. There are 3 additional links you can click to create more complex transformations:

  • More options: Set additional transformations or transformation flags.
  • Add overlay & watermark: Specify another asset in your Media Library to add as an overlay (or underlay) on the current asset, and specify transformations to apply to the selected overlay asset. You can also click the More options link within the overlay section to access additional transformations for the overlay.
  • Chain another transformation: Chaining enables you to define another set of transformations that will be applied on the result of the first set.

When you change settings on any of the transformation controls, a button is displayed on the preview prompting you to generate the derived resource and refresh the preview. In most cases, it makes sense to first set all the transformation settings you want to apply, and only then refresh the preview. When you refresh the preview, the transformation code displayed below the preview is also updated, enabling you to copy the transformation URL or the transformation code for any SDK.

A derived resource is one that is generated from the original asset based on applied transformations. It does not change the original asset, nor is it treated as a new asset in your Media Library. You can view all derived resources that were generated from a particular asset by clicking the View derived image/video button at the top of the Edit page.


  • Each time you modify a transformation and refresh the preview, the requested transformation is generated as a new 'derived resource'. Each of these derived resources is counted as part of the total number of transformations used during your billing cycle.
  • Because transformations do not impact the original asset, users with the Media Library user role can generate transformations, even if they have only Can View or Can Contribute permissions for the folder where the asset is stored.
  • The options on this page enable you to apply most of the available transformations, but not all of them. Some of the more complex transformations with many possible option values can be applied only using the delivery URL API.

For details on all available transformations and how they are used within delivery URLs, see the Image transformations and Video transformations guides.

Editing asset details

From the Edit page, users with a role that includes edit permissions for the asset can adjust data that is stored with your asset, including:

  • Rename the asset's public ID. The public ID is the filename used in delivery URLs.
    If you change a public ID of an asset that is currently in production, it will break all existing links to that asset.
  • Manually add or modify tags and contextual metadata. Tags and contextual metadata can be used in advanced searches to help you find relevant assets and may also be used in some complex transformations. For example, conditional transformations may apply one transformation if an asset has a specific tag or contextual metadata value associated with it, and otherwise apply a different transformation. You can also automatically generate tags for assets in the Analysis tab of the Asset Management drill-down page, using one of the auto-tagging add-ons.
  • Add or edit face or custom coordinates. These coordinates are used to determine the area of focus for cropping, overlays, and other transformation features when the gravity parameter is set to face/faces or custom in a delivery URL.
  • Set an override quality level for a specific asset. The absolute quality level set here will be used for that asset instead of Cloudinary's auto-quality algorithm when quality is set to auto in a delivery URL.
  • List, preview and restore backed up versions. With backup enabled, uploaded assets are copied to a backup location and version history is maintained if an asset is overwritten or deleted. You can preview previous versions, even for deleted assets, helping you to choose which version to restore.

Users with an Admin role or with Can Manage permissions for the relevant folder can also Delete the asset.

You can also perform most of the above editing options from the Asset management drill-down page.

Custom metadata

There are three types of metadata that can be stored with your assets: structured metadata, contextual metadata, and tags. These types of metadata are useful for searching assets based on a value or field value pair, or as a method of marking assets for a particular purpose in your end-user application.

For example, your developer can set up a "Specials" page in your web store to display all assets where the structured metadata sale field is set to campaign-A. Or, all assets that show scarves can be auto-tagged with a value scarf to be displayed on your web store accordingly.

This enables Media Library users from your creative, marketing, or sales teams to decide which assets get which field values or tags, while your developers take advantage of custom metadata API methods to implement the application side.


The following section describes each of the three types custom metadata that can be stored within each asset in your Cloudinary account and explains the differences between them:

  • Tags: individual text values that can assigned to specific assets.
  • Contextual metadata: custom key-value pairs that you can assign to individual assets.
  • Structured metadata: custom fields are defined, along with data types and validations, by an account administrator at a global level, and are added to all assets in the account. You assign their values per asset.

The Custom metadata comparison table compares the three types of metadata:

Custom metadata comparison table

Tags Contextual Structured
Scope Values are added individually to each asset, or to several assets in bulk, manually or through automatic tagging. Fields and values are added individually to each asset. Fields are defined for the entire account (or sub-account). The values are set individually for each asset.
Created by Fields and values can be added by any user with write-level permissions for a particular asset.

Your assets can also be automatically tagged using a Cloudinary add-on during upload or update using AI image recognition and categorization capabilities.

Fields and values can be added by any user with write-level permissions for a particular asset. Fields are created and managed globally either by an account administrator in the Manage Structured Metadata page, accessible from the Media Library Preferences or by a developer via the via the metadata API.

Any user with write-level permissions for a particular asset can add or edit the field values.

Value types All values are unvalidated, free-text strings. All fields are unvalidated, free-text strings. Each metadata field is defined with a specific type (string, number, single or multi-select list, or date).

The field can optionally be set with validation requirements (which can limit the values allowed in the field to, for example, a numeric range or number of characters).

Fields may also have conditional metadata rules applied that can change elements of their definition based on selections in other fields.

Programmatic equivalent - Add, remove, and replace tags: tags methods of the Upload API.

- Add tags: upload method of the Upload API.

- View and add tags: resource methods of the Admin API.

- Replace tags: explicit method of the Upload API.

- View tags: tags method of the Admin API.

- Add fields and values: context method of the Upload API.

- Add values: upload and explicit methods of the Upload API.

- View and add tags: resource method of the Admin API.

- Manage fields: metadata_fields method of the Admin API.

- Set field values: metadata, upload and explicit methods of the Upload API.

- View and set field values: resource methods of the Admin API.

Benefits This metadata type enables assets to be automatically classified and tagged, which is especially useful when managing assets in bulk. This metadata type gives more control and flexibility to individual account users. This metadata type enables more standardization across the organization.

Setting custom metadata values

You can set custom metadata values for an asset in the Media Library from the Metadata tab of the Preview pane, from the Metadata tab of the Asset Management drill-down. You can also set the same custom metadata for multiple assets at once.

After you set metadata values for your assets, you can search for assets by those values using the Metadata tab of the Advanced Search. For details, see Advanced Search tabs > Metadata.

The following sections cover some additional clarifications for setting contextual metadata, structured metadata, and bulk updating metadata values.

Setting contextual metadata values

This option may not be available if your account administrator has selected to hide it in the Media Library preferences.

In each of the areas where you can edit contextual metadata, you will always see two suggested contextual metadata fields: caption and alt. If you add values for these, then those fields are added to the asset's custom metadata with the values you set. You can additionally or alternatively add any other field names and values in the Custom metadata section.

Sample contextual metadata in Asset Management page

There is no technical difference between the suggested caption and alt fields and any other custom fields you add. If you don't need these two fields, you can leave them blank and add any other fields as needed. The suggested fields are just intended as a quick way for you to potentially add standard custom fields to your assets that your developers might use, for example, to display a title and description for the assets when they are displayed in your application.

Setting structured metadata values

If your account administrator or a developer has defined structured metadata fields for your account, anyone with edit permissions for an asset can set the structured metadata field values in the Metadata tab of the Preview pane or from the Metadata tab of the Asset Management drill-down.

When working with structured metadata, the set of available fields is identical for all assets in your account.

  • Field types: Each field is predefined as one of the following types: free text field, multi-select list, single-selection list, number, or date.
  • Validation rules: Field values that can be manually entered, such as text, number, and date fields, may have been defined with validation rules, such as minimum or maximum values.
    If you enter a value that doesn't meet the validation rules, then when you click outside the field (which submits the value), an error message gives you information to help you correct the value.
  • Mandatory fields: Some fields may be defined as mandatory.
    • If an asset existed before your administrator defined the mandatory field, you are not immediately required to fill it in. However, if you click in a mandatory field and then click out of it (in essence submitting an empty value), you will receive a message that the value is mandatory.
    • Similarly, if a mandatory field has a value, and you delete it, you will be required to enter a new value. Otherwise, when you change views, the field will revert to its previous value.
  • Conditional metadata: The behavior of some fields may depend on the values you enter in other fields. A field might appear, receive a default value, or display different choices in its list, depending on the values you enter in another field. For example, if you select Employee from the Category field, this might cause the Department field to appear, whereas if you select Conference from the Category field, the Department field is not relevant and remains hidden.

    If you change the value of a field that has dependencies, the values that you previously set in those dependent fields may be automatically deleted.

    Field dependencies are available only to Cloudinary customers on an Enterprise plan.

sample structured metadata with errors

AND vs OR metadata search conditions

In general, when you perform an advanced search in the Media Library, if you enter multiple values for a specific search criteria, you will get results for assets that have ANY of those values, meaning these are treated as OR search conditions. For example, if you enter 2 values in a search by tag, you will get assets that have either of those tags.

Conversely, if you add more than one different search criteria, such as searching by both upload time and type, your results will include only assets that match both of those criteria, meaning these are treated as AND search conditions.

All contextual metadata for an asset is stored as a single entry for that asset while the individual fields of structured metadata are stored with your assets as separate sub-entries. Therefore:

  • If you enter multiple contextual metadata fields in a search, they are considered multiple values of a single OR search condition. In the Contextual metadata search image above, your search results would include any assets that have campaign = ABC OR discount_code = blue OR aaa = aaa.

  • If you enter multiple structured metadata fields in a search, they are considered separate AND search conditions. However, if you enter more than one value WITHIN a multi-select field when searching, those are treated as OR conditions. In the Structured metadata search image above, your search results would include only assets where Product ID is less than 12345 AND Publish Date is before Aug 1, 2019 AND Categories contains either Shoes OR Gifts.

Bulk updating metadata values

You can also set custom metadata values for multiple assets at once by selecting the assets from any view in the Media Library and then clicking the relevant option from the asset toolbar.


Click the Tag option from the Assets toolbar to open the Manage tags dialog box, where you can add new tags and remove tags for the selected assets. The Remove tags option is included, but minimized, if at least one of the assets you selected has tags.

To remove tags from the selected assets, expand the Remove tags option and type or select the tag values you want to remove. The selection list shows tag values that exist for at least one of the currently selected assets. The values you include in the Remove tags field will be selectively removed from any assets that have them. If a selected asset does not have any of those tags, it is not affected by the Remove part of the operation. Tags you specify to add are added to all selected assets.

Contextual metadata

This option may not be available if your account administrator has selected to hide it in the Media Library preferences.

Click the More option (...) from the Assets toolbar and then click Edit contextual metadata in the dropdown menu to open the Edit contextual metadata dialog box. Select an existing key and enter a matching value to add contextual metadata to your asset. You can also create a new key by entering a word in the Key textbox.

Structured metadata

Click the More option (...) from the Assets toolbar and then click Edit structured metadata in the dropdown menu to open the Edit structured metadata dialog box. Select a metadata field and then enter (or select) corresponding values in the dialog box.

If your administrator has configured conditional metadata for your assets, additional fields may appear, disappear, or change depending on the values you enter. For example, selecting Employee from a Category field might display a Department field, because employees are associated with departments. By the same token, selecting Conference from the Category field might hide the Department field because it is no longer relevant, and in that case, any values previously selected for the Department field would be automatically deleted.

When you update structured metadata in bulk, previously existing metadata values are not displayed. Also, only the highest-level fields appear initially, and any hidden fields are displayed only if the conditions that activate them are met. So, while you change values in higher-level fields, it's possible that this may automatically delete metadata in dependent, hidden fields. If at least one of the assets you are updating already contains a value in a hidden field, a message warns you that metadata in hidden fields may be deleted as you change values in fields they depend on.

Access control modes

When working with Cloudinary's API, there are a few ways you can control who can access an asset and when. These include:

  • Storing an asset with an authenticated or private delivery type.
  • Applying the access_mode parameter
  • Applying the access_control parameter (premium feature)

If either of the first two options above is applied on an asset, the asset's current access control mode is indicated in the Media Library with an icon, but you can't apply or modify these settings via the Media Library. They can be applied or modified only programmatically via the API. For more details, see Control access to assets during upload and Media access control on delivery.

The access_control option can be set programmatically via the API or via the Media Library.

Setting access control from the Media Library

If your account is enabled for the access_control option (available to accounts with an Enterprise plan upon request), you can change any asset's access control mode between Public and Restricted directly from the Media Library.

Setting an asset as Restricted means that people can only view that asset outside the Media Library if they have both the asset URL and an authentication token, except during an optional time-limited date range when the asset is defined as publicly accessible.

Access control settings dialog box

Time-limited restricted access can be useful if you have an image or video that's intended to be used for a special campaign or that shows a new product design, and it's imperative that the asset will not be shared outside the organization prior to an official launch date. Or conversely, you may have assets that you no longer want the public to be able to view or share after the content is obsolete.

When working with the access_control option, you can change assets from public to restricted, and add or change the time-limited access dates or times without changing the asset's URL in any way. This means that your developers don't need to change the URLs in their code when the access settings for that asset change.

To view or modify access control settings:

After the asset_control feature is enabled for your account, you can open the access control settings dialog box (shown above) by clicking the Public Public access control / Restricted Restricted access control access control button in one of the following locations:

  • The Summary tab of the Media Library Preview pane
  • The Asset Management Summary tab

From the dialog box that opens, you can view or change the access control mode between public and restricted, or adjust the time-limited access for restricted assets.

Uploading with access control

If you want to set the same access control settings for a set of assets you are uploading to the Media Library, you (or an account administrator) can apply the required access control settings in the Upload Preset(s) you are using as your default Media Library upload presets.

Alternatively, when you upload using the Media Library upload widget, you may be able to select an Upload Preset that has been set to upload with restricted access control settings.

By default, the Upload Presets option is not available in the Advanced options of the Media Library Upload Widget. If it is not available in your account's upload widget, your account administrator can submit a support request to activate it.

Authentication tokens for access control

An authentication token is a special type of validation for ensuring that a person requesting a URL is allowed to access it. This token may take the form of:

  • A generated query parameter token added to the delivery URL
  • A specially defined cookie downloaded to the user's device, for verification when that user requests the URL

If you need to allow someone access to a restricted asset via a URL, outside the time range that an asset is set as public, you will need to provide that person with the relevant authentication token. You should work with your Cloudinary account administrator or developers to generate and distribute the required token.

For details on these token methods, see Authenticated access to media assets.

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