Tutorial/TNG/Media - Images

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MEDIA is the collection of images: your photographs, headstones, PDF documents, obituaries and other digital imagery from your family study. TNG handles images differently from your family tree data, so you have a different set of utilities for the importing and placement of images on your pages.

We start off with an understanding of media: the formats and sizes. Then, we look at ways to do uploading and importing of media, resizing, linking to individuals and families, setting up of collections and the creation of albums.

How to use media: an overview

default media pull-down menu

Family history is more than just collecting names, dates and locations.  It is enriched by including photos and documents of your ancestors.  TNG can help you with the storing and including of all kinds of media on your family line.

What is media for TNG users?  It can be: photographs; scanned documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, census records, military enlistment documents; it can be headstone images; written histories, audio and even video recordings.

TNG does not restrict you on the file type in the media collections.  So you can store files of type: jpeg, gif, png, pdf, xls, mp3 and mp4 and more.  Note: there will be some suggestions in another article on how to best handle very large video files.

Where will my media appear in TNG?  On your homepage, there are menu selections available, and the default choices are: Photos, Histories, Documents, Videos, Recordings, Albums and Headstones.  Or, you can select All Media to see everything. Media can be stored in TNG without any association to a person or place if you want, but most likely you will want them to be attached, or “linked” to someone or somewhere.

detail of images on a profile page

For example, see to the right, this is a screenshot from my father’s profile page.  Media of photos, documents, headstones and census have been included.  In this example, there is only one image per category, but you can have as many as you want.  The images shown here are “thumbnails”, or reduced size, but you can click on the hyperlink to the right of the image, or just hover your mouse over the thumbnail, to see a more full size image pop up.

How do I get media to work in my TNG website?  Check out some of the other articles in this series: adding media, importing and uploading media, setting up collections and adding maps to media.  Media enriches your TNG site and is an enjoyable undertaking.  Have fun.

What is media?

Before  adding media to your TNG site, we should discuss “what is media?” and what your categories are for placing them in the right locations for family research.

For our purposes in TNG, media is any digital artifact that you want to associate with a person, a family or a place in your family history.  So this can be a photo, a document, certificate, piece of paper, a letter, a screenshot from a map or from another website page.

What are TNG collections?

This is how TNG allows you to group your artifacts into various types of media.  TNG comes with six categories of collections: Photos, Documents, Headstones, Histories, Recordings and Videos.  You can also use Albums to aggregate your media.

  • Photos. Photographs of anything: people, families, vacations, reunions, weddings.
  • Documents. Census records, military, birth/marriage/death certificates, letters, memoirs, memberships, diplomas, driver’s licence and so on.
  • Headstones. Images of headstones, footstones, grave markers, plots.  You can also flag the situation of a headstone: whether located yet or not, missing, unmarked or a cremation.
  • Histories. You add your written stories of the families in here.  You can use a previously created document, in the format of a PDF or image file, for example.  Or you can type in the history story directly into TNG.
  • Recordings. Your audio records.
  • Videos. Your video records.

You are not limited to just six media categories.  Indeed, you can add your own categories, called “collections” to suit your filing needs.  More on collections later.

File Formats

TNG will accept your digital item in just about any format, according to the TNG software author.  Do keep in mind that you or someone that is using your website for research eventually will want to retrieve and view it and you or they might not have the same software application that was used to create the media in the first place.  So try to stick with industry common standards for file formats.

For images, it is fairly safe to use JPEG, TIFF, PNG and even PDF formats.  Each has a distinct value in preserving and displaying images.  JPEG is noted for some diminishing of the image quality, if it is edited a number of times, but it is also more compact and displays more quickly than some others.  TIFF is a good choice if you do not want to lose any quality, but the files tend to be on the large size of memory.

For documents, you can still use the above choices for saving individual pages, but not so useful for a book.  A safe bet is to set the format to PDF.  You can also use word processing file formats, such as MS Word DOC or DOCX.  If the text and not the format is important, consider using TXT as your choice.  There are other word/text applications out there, but keep in mind whether future researchers will have such a tool.

Lists, charts and tables can be saved as spreadsheets, so Microsoft XLS and XLSX are options, as well as others.  However, not every researcher will have the same spreadsheet application as you, so consider making a PDF version at the same time.

Audio recordings would typically be type MP3, WAV (for PC’s), AIFF (Apple) and so on.  MP3 is a safe choice.  Video recordings also have choices: AVI (Quicktime), MP4 and others.  MP4 is a common choice here.

How to add media

When adding media into TNG, you have three basic methods available:

  • You want to add only one media, or one media at a time, with the opportunity to edit the media information at that time. Read on.
  • You have a number of media files in your TNG media folder, but not yet associated with your family tree. You just want to bulk import them into the tree and will associate them later.  Read the article on "How to import media".
  • You have a number of media files on your home computer and want to bulk import them into TNG. But you also want to then give them titles and descriptions, and to associate them with individuals, families, sources or places. Read the article on "How to upload media".

If you are not sure what "media" is in TNG, visit the other articles on "How to use media, an overview" and  "What is media?"

So let’s say you only want to add a photograph or recording from your home computer, and to associate it with a family member.  You will need editor, media editor or administrator privileges for this task.  Go to the Media page.  The ‘Search’ tab will show you the current list of media in a table layout.  But we want to add another image, so click on the ‘Add New’ tab.

add new media

Media File

The ‘Add New Media’ page has a lot going on, so let’s walk through the steps.  This will be a photo of my dad, so set the Collection choice to ‘Photos’.  The steps will be very similar for the other collections.  I will ignore the next checkbox: “This media comes from an external source”.  That only applies if the image comes from another website, but we are getting our image from the home computer instead.

The next area tells TNG where to find the media file.  There are three choices:

  • File to upload comes from your home computer. My choice this time.
  • File name on site comes from your own media subfolder on the TNG website.
  • Body Text will accept a direct text file from you. You can hand type it into this box.  Or you can copy-and-paste from another text or word file from elsewhere (e.g., a file on your computer or text from a website).  Note that you have some text formatting buttons along the top of this box.

So click on “Choose File” to get an image from the home computer.

create a thumbnail image

Next, we need a thumbnail image to be created from the original.  TNG can create one for you, if the original is a valid JPG, GIF or PNG image.  My original image file name is 103.jpg, so TNG names the thumbnail for me: thumb_103.jpg.  TNG does not like it if you try to keep the thumbnail and original image file names the same and it will complain!  By default, let TNG store the media files in the same collection folder as selected earlier.

Media Information


The Media Information boxes are optional, but may add value to your visitors and be informative on the context and relevance to the research. The Title is a short name for your media. By default, it is the image filename. Usually, that is not very informative, e.g., "DCS123456.jpg", so you would replace that with a key phrase. The Description is where you can have a more complete sentence or paragraph. You can also include external hyperlinks in the description text.

Both title and description will show up on image display and search results pages for your media.

Selecting a cemetery is used only for headstone images.  “Always viewable” overrides the “living” status and user permissions. Selecting “Open in new window” will cause the media to be opened up in a new browser window when its link is clicked.

Okay, we “Save and continue…” and go onto the next page, where we can link this photo back to the ancestor, where it was taken and who might be in the photo.

Media Links

Now we connect the photo to an ancestor, or ancestors.  This being a photo of my dad, the Tree = "Benedict" and the Type = "Person".  Which person?  Each individual in your family tree has a unique person ID.  If you know it, type it in this box.  If not, use the search icon to do a look up for that person.  My dad is ID= I3.  Note: all ID’s start with the letter “I”.  If you type in the ID number, click on the “Add” button.


If you have more ancestors in the photo and want to link them as well, you can do that.  Just enter a new ID number in the ID box or do another search and then click “Add” again.  You should see a growing list of people that you just linked.

Place Taken/Created

If you want a map location to be associated with this photo, you do it here.  We will do a separate article on mapping individuals and places later.

'My dad'

Image Map

I like this feature and should use it more often.  If you have a photo with multiple family members (see Media Links, above), you can tag each of them in the photo and link back to their individual page.  As well, when someone visits the photo on your site, they will see the names appear as the cursor is moved across each person.

So let’s get started.

You should see a full sized image of the photo here.  First, select the tree.  Then imagine a rectangle that would border the face or body of the person in the picture.  With your cursor, click on the upper-left corner of that rectangle, then the lower-right corner.  You should see a dotted outline. 


In the pop-up window, identify that person (again, for dad, the ID= I3).  Or, if you don’t know the ID, put in the First Name and/or the Last Name and let TNG list the choices.  Click on one of them to select the person. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and save your media.

That’s it.  Enjoy adding your media into TNG, whether they are photos, documents, headstones and more.  If in doubt, don’t forget there is further information on your TNG page in the “Help in this area” link.

How to import media

The ability to import and to upload media is restricted to administration privileges.

Use “Import Media” if you want to transfer images to your TNG image subfolder in bulk, but not for linking to any persons or places at this time.  This might be the case with a lot of census records or image sections from a book, for example.


So, log in as administrator, go to Administration and click on the Media tile.  Click on the “Import” tab.  Decide on the collection to receive the images, and select a tree.  If you don’t select a tree, then the images will be visible in all trees.

Now for a bit of explanation.  You need to have the images uploaded already into your TNG site, in the media subfolder.  Usually this is done if you have an ftp file transfer account for your TNG site.  Or, you can use the “Upload Media” feature to first copy images from your home computer to your media subfolder.


One other cautionary.  You only want to import new images, not ones that you have imported before.  Otherwise, TNG will add the image again, duplicating the first set.

As an example, I intentionally imported a small set of images twice.  See the results on the left, when I went to Search Media.

The original two images (#1, #3) have a thumbnail image.  The second set (#2, #4), a duplicate set, does not sport a thumbnail, but shows the same file name.

Not what we want.  Now I have to go back into the media edit page and manually delete the individual duplicates.

Creating image thumbnails

Image thumbnails are those small-size images that represent your photos but do not occupy a large space on the screen. Thumbnails have a visual appeal to your visitors, over using text lists. People can quickly see any photo items of interest to them, so this enhances their experience visiting your site.

Adding thumbnails is easy to do at the same time you are adding the media to TNG. But perhaps you have to regenerate thumbnail images on your site, for whatever reason. TNG has a handy tool for that purpose. Most likely, if you are using TNG as a backup to your home computer family tree, and importing GEDCOM data, you will need to generate thumbnail images and thumbnail links for any new images.

Log in, then go to Administration >> Media, and click on the Thumbnails tab. The next page has two sections: Generate Thumbnails and Assign Default Photos.

Generate Thumbnails

Generate Thumbnails page

Clicking on the Generate button will go through all of your images, JPG, GIF and PNG files, and create a thumbnail copy, if one does not already exist.

The thumbnail image file will be created in the same subfolder as the image itself. TNG will add a prefix (or suffix) to the filename. By default, it is “thumb_”, but you can change that in Setup >> General Settings >> Media if you wish.

If necessary, you can regenerate fresh thumbnails on all of your images, using the first checkbox.

If you suspect that some images are still not showing a thumbnail, the problem might be with a missing or incorrect file pathname. Use the second checkbox to have TNG re-evaluate thumbnail pathnames and to then recreate correct paths. Otherwise, the Generate button could be regenerating invalid thumbnail names.

Assign Default Photos

When you add or edit a person, you have the opportunity to assign a default photo (actually, a thumbnail image) to that individual’s profile page, pedigree charts and family group sheets.

You can add default thumbnails, individually, manually, by going to a person’s profile page, then following the steps illustrated, below. Click on the Choose default photo, select a photo, which will add the thumbnail to that profile page. Before saving, check on the media edit page, Media Links, that you have the photo linked to the right person, that you have created a thumbnail image and that the Default Photo box is checked. That should put the thumbnail on the individual’s profile page.

There is something satisfying in going through the old photos and selecting an attractive sepia image to be featured on the profile page for that ancestor.

Adding a default image to a profile page

If you need to set up profile thumbnails in bulk, then on the Media >> Thumbnails page, click on the Assign Defaults button to have TNG go through all individuals, families, sources and repositories of the selected tree and assign the first photo for that person to be the Default Photo. If you check the “Overwrite existing defaults” box, then TNG will override any previous selection.

Matching ID's from other family tree applications

When you import images from your other family tree applications, do the index ID numbers also come across?  If so, this would make the matching of images to persons so much easier.  Well, it depends.  Below is some reference information from the TNG author's Wiki knowledge site.

Resequencing ID's in Family Tree Maker (FTM)

The older versions of Family Tree Maker (FTM16 and earlier) re-sequences the assigned record IDs when it goes from single digits to double digits to triple digits and so on. So an original ID of I1 will become I01 when you add the 10th person to the FTM database and I001 when you add the 100th person, and I0001 when you add the 1000th person.

FTM 2008 and FTM 2009 use a 5 digit numbering scheme, with I00001 assigned to the first person ID number. Thusly, number changes won't take place with these versions until the database hits 100,000 names.

The resulting impact is that media record links will be broken in TNG when you import a new GEDCOM after the IDs passed through one of the above thresholds.

Export / Import Media Links

Only version 21 (FTM 2012) of FTM exports media links. Even the subsequent version, FTM 2014, does not. The software is designed to support building trees and to entice one to subscribe to Ancestry.com and not to create your own web site elsewhere. See Forum discussion on media export.

Import of media links is also not supported in FTM, which includes FTM2009 and FTM2010. Export of a GEDcom 5.5 version file will automatically deselect the option to include path names for media files.

If you have a large GEDCOM file with a significant number of media attachments, it is possible to take an exported FTM file that contains media links and import this file into "The Master Genealogist" (TMG). This program has the capability to read the FTM proprietary formatted GEDcom file and not lose the media path information contained in the file. You can then export this file from TMG into another GEDcom 5.5 file that actually does contain path information that you require. Of course, you will have to set up TMG to have correct path information for media files that matches your TNG installation, etc. to make it work. I have done this procedure to recover an old FTM16 formatted file that contained a little over 1000 photos and wrote the file out to GEDcom 5.5 standard that matched my TNG site's /photos directory convention. After import of the GEDcom file, and FTP of the photos to the /photos directory on my TNG site, I was able to run the "create thumbnails" option under the media section for all photos that do not currently have thumbnails. This correctly populated each photo with it's appropriate thumbnail and saved me days of work.

The import process for TMG took almost a full night to run, but export was very quick. TMG is not a free product, but since this was a once only scenario, the downloaded trial version worked fine for me. I would have no hesitation on purchasing the full version just to have the "import FTM files" capabilities in case other relatives sent me additional files in the future.....

Note: the Wiki article also has sections on exporting GEDCOM from Legacy, Personal Ancestral File (PAF), Family Historian and The Master Genealogist (TMG).

How to upload media

The previous article on how to import media is useful when you just want to bulk load images into TNG from your TNG subfolder:- no titles, no descriptions, no links to individuals.  Those follow-up steps would be done separately.

But what if you want to transfer images from your home computer to your TNG site and also be able to tag them at the same time with the titles, descriptions and people links?  This is what “Upload Media” can do for you.

Note: The ability to import and to upload media is restricted to administration privileges.

Let’s get started.  First, you have a number of images stored away on your home computer.  Just check that the images are where you expect to find them, that they are of a size and file type you want, and that you know of who or what is in each image, because you are going to be able to assign them to people and places.

Then decide what collection best suits the images.  Have a review of the article on What is media? if you are not sure.  Also check in the collection folder to be sure you won’t have duplicate file names with the images to be uploaded into that collections folder.  TNG will rename your new uploaded files if there is a potential conflict.  For example, an uploaded file with name conflict could become “granddad(2).jpg”, along with the original “granddad.jpg".


So log in as administrator, go to Administration and click on the Media tile.  Click on the “Upload” tab.

Your first choice is picking a collection.  Select the collection that should house your images that are about to be uploaded to TNG.  I am going to upload a few photos of my grandfather, so my Collection = Photos.

Then select a tree, or not.  You do not have to select a tree, but if you expect to have a lot of images in your TNG, this helps keep the display of images more manageable.  I will be selecting Tree = Benedict.

Ignore the “Folder” text box for now; that will be discussed in a future article.

Okay, we are now ready to bring granddad into the TNG site.  We do that with the “Add files…” button.


Shown above, or right, is a file browser window, opened on top of the TNG Upload Media page.  Note that I have selected my collection and tree.  Then by clicking on the Add files… button, I can see choices of images on my home computer.  You might have to select the correct computer subfolder to find the images you want.

There are a few shortcuts to selecting multiple images.  You could click on them one at a time, click the Open button, then go back to the Add files button and do it again.  Or, you can click on the first image you want from the subfolder, and then hold down the control key (Ctrl on a PC) and click on the other images until all are selected.  Then release the control key and click on “Open”.

Most browsers (not older Internet Explorer) will also allow you to drag and drop files from another window directly onto the white area in the middle of the Upload Media screen.


If successful, you should see your images appearing in the Media Upload screen (right).

All looks good at this point.  So now, if you want to delete a file that shouldn’t be uploaded at this time, use the Cancel button to the right of the image.  If you want to upload only one image now, click on the Start button to the right of that image.

At the bottom of the screen, you can associate all of the images with an individual in your family, which is my situation: my grandfather, Peter George Benedict.  I will set Tree = Benedict, Type = Person and ID = I4.  Note the search button if you need to look up the individual.


Now we are ready to upload the files.  Go back to the top of the page and click in “Start upload”.  You should see the upload progress bar on each image.  When the upload completes, you should see something like this:

Note that I have already typed a description into the box for the first photo.  You can do the same for all uploaded images.  Click the Save button as you complete each description.  The Media Links button allows you to link the images one-by-one to different individuals.  But I selected grandpa’s images this time, so I want to link all of them to him.  I go to the page bottom and click on Select All.  All the section boxes get selected, and I could de-select them one by one, if so desired.  I could also delete the images from this page (the image files are not deleted from your TNG subfolder).

Now that all the images are selected, I check the page bottom to be sure the individual’s ID number is correct, that all the images are selected, then I click on “Link to selected”.  Done.

media list with description

Just to verify it, I’ll go back to the public-view of the individual page for Peter George Benedict, scrolling to the bottom.  And there he is.  If you hover your cursor over any of the thumbnail images, a pop-up window will show a larger version.  Or you can click on the thumbnail to see the image in an individual page.

How to customize media general settings

Good progress has been made.  If you have followed some earlier articles, you should have your digital media all imported into your TNG site and have them nicely catalogued into various collections, ready for display to your visiting public and family.

Here are some of those articles that you might want to review:

Now, there is one more section inside TNG that you should visit.  This is a page where you can control some general parameters and settings for all of your media displays.

You find it in the Administration >> Setup panel.

Log in as administrator, go to the Administration page and click on the Setup tile.  From there, go to General Settings and open up the Media section.  You should see this screen:

media settings

Photo Extension:

TNG allows importing and displaying of most common image files.  This setting is only used for small pedigree-style photos.  It does not affect the displaying of your regular images.

Show Extended Photo Info:

When set to Yes, your photo will also show other media extended information, such as the physical file name (e.g. DSC003457.jpg), the pixel height and width and some other technical stuff.  You might want to turn this off.

Image Max Height and Width:

If an image is larger than the set maximums, TNG will scale it down to the max, for display purposes.

Thumbnail Max Height and Width:

When TNG creates a thumbnail image, the image will be restricted to this width or height.

Thumbnails Prefix and Suffix:

Generally, leave this setting of prefix as is, and not bother with a suffix.  So, if your original image file is John_Doe_fishing.jpg, then if you ask TNG to create a thumbnail for you, it will be named: thumb_John_Doe_fishing.jpg.  As thumbnails are generally stored in the same media file folder as the original, this is how TNG distinguishes the thumbnail images for display.

Use default thumbnails:

If you set this to “Yes”, then when you have an individual without a default photo available, TNG will substitute a generic, gender-specific thumbnail on that person’s pages.

Columns in Thumbnail View:

When browsing all photos in thumbnail view, this many thumbnails will be displayed in a single row.

Max characters in list notes:

If you want notes to be truncated when they are shown on list pages (like on the public Photos, Documents and Histories pages), set this to the maximum number of characters that should be displayed.  Or leave it blank to always show the entire note.

Slide show:

Enabling a slide show allows a set of photos to be shown automatically in succession from the public area when the “Start Slideshow” link is clicked.  Setting this option to ‘No’ hides the link and disables the feature.

Auto Repeat allows the slide show to run continuously.

Enabling the image viewer to ‘Always’ shows every image-based media item (e.g.: JPEG, GIF and PNG files).  Setting it to ‘Documents only’ turns the image viewer off for all image-based media that are not ‘Documents’ or behave like documents.

Image viewer height is either ‘full image’ or ‘fixed: 640px’.  The fixed setting will crop any images taller than 640 pixels, but you can still pan around or zoom in or out.

Hide Personal Data:

If this option is set to "Yes", then media listings on a person's individual page will start in a collapsed state. Instead of seeing thumbnails and descriptions, you will see only a total count for each media type. Visitors will still be able to expand each media section, but they will be collapsed again if the page is refreshed.

How to change photo sizes

Adjusting the size of photos before importing them into TNG can be advantageous at times.  This is referring to the pixel dimensions of the photo which also affects the megabyte size of the file.

There are times when you would want to keep the original size.  For example, an image that has a lot of detail that would get lost if it were reduced.  You might have a rare document that needs to be preserved digitally in its full form.  Not a problem, as you can always import both the full and the reduced images, then display each of them in an appropriate location.

Today’s cameras and smart phones are great at storing very large images for us.  But that can be a case of overkill on a family tree website.

Why would we want to reduce the photo size anyway?  Smaller files will upload faster.  Once installed in TNG, smaller images will display much faster.  I see a number of TNG homepages with great photos, but the page renders s-l-o-w-l-y.  When you click on an image in TNG to see the full photo, a large image can overflow the edges of the viewer’s screen, meaning that they cannot see the whole image at once and must resort to using the scroll bars.

If you are wondering how to import your photos into TNG, check out the articles on How to add media, How to import media and How to upload media.

So, how do we go about reducing the photo sizes?  There are many good photo editing software applications out there and if you have a favourite, go ahead with what is familiar.  You can also find a few freeware applications there on the ‘net as well, some good, some less so.  Windows has a built-in tool that does the job in most cases, and it is called Paint.  You will find it somewhere in your set of Microsoft accessories.  Here is an example of using Paint.

I needed to add a cemetery photograph for my Benedict ancestors, resting in Vermontville, Michigan and located a photo of the entrance.  But the image was large: 2560 x 1920 pixels and 1-1/2 megabytes in size.  The photo would overflow a normal computer screen and the file would be slow at rendering on the screen as well.  Time to put it on a diet.

Before we do anything else, make a copy of the original image and rename it something else, like: “Vermontville cemetery orig.jpg”.  Paint does not automatically make backup image files for you.


So, first we load the image into MS Paint.  You can do it by opening Paint and clicking on File > New, or you can open the image file folder, right-click on the image file, then select Open with > Paint.  Here is what I get:

You can see that the image is LARGE.  Note the choices in the ribbon toolbar at the top.  One selection is “Resize”.  Select that.


The pop-up window now offers us some choices in resizing.  You can resize by percentage or by pixels.  Either choice works fine.  Keep the checkbox “Maintain aspect ratio” as checked, so that you do not introduce any distortion.  Usually I select percentage, as you can usually judge whether you need to cut the image in half (Percentage = 50), in a third (Percentage = 33) or whatever works for the situation.

I am going to cut this down to a fifth size, for illustration purposes.  So I enter in Horizontal = 20, and note, the Vertical automatically changes to 20 percent as well.  Click on OK.

If you don’t like the result, you have an undo icon at the top of the Paint tool.


Let’s see what we get.

]Now that becomes manageable.  Click on the Save button and the new reduced image will overwrite the original image.  Or, you could click on File > Save as… and use another file name and not alter the original file.

You can now upload either the smaller file or both files to TNG and show off the cemetery entrance, or ancestor photos or headstones.

Finding unlinked media in TNG

TNG makes it very easy to add media; photographs, documents, headstones, into your family history site.  Have a look at the articles on How to use media: an overview, How to add media, How to import media and How to upload media for more information on this powerful feature.

If you do upload a lot of media, there is the problem of orphans.  Not in your family tree; these are "orphan" photos that end up not associated with any individual or family.  We all have them in our TNG website somewhere; so how do we find them and reunite the images to their families?

The first step is to find these unlinked images and documents.  Start by going to the Media page, via the Administration panel.  On the search page, you can see a display of your uploaded images and can filter this view by collection (photos, documents, headstones, …).

Notice the checkbox, “Unlinked only”.  Check that, set the Collection box to “All” and click on the Search button.  Here are the orphaned, unlinked media, looking for a home.

How do you link a stray photo back to an individual?  Click on the Edit icon for each unlinked item.  The How to add media article will be of help. Media-unlinked 1.jpg