I'm trying to assign (not upload) files to nodes programmatically.

This is the scenario:

I will create 2000 nodes and there are 2000 PDF files (one PDF per node). I don't want to upload these files via Drupal interface. I will upload all these PDF files via FTP.

These PDF files are well-named, I mean all of them have a standardized name such as {field_magazine_name}-{field_issue_number}.pdf (under sites/default/files/pdf for example).

What I want to do is to assign these PDF files to related nodes while creating/saving the nodes.

Possible Method 1

One method to do this would be to use the File Field Sources module. enter image description here

I think remote file transfer can be used with some JavaScript code. The remote file transfer input can be automatically filled with the fields I want and it will work (for example http://example.com/sites/default/files/pdf/{field_magazine_name}-{field_issue_number}.pdf)... but I don't create nodes manually, I'm creating the nodes via Feeds. So, using JavaScript isn't the method I can use.

Is there any way to programmatically assign (attach) a file to file field while creating/saving the node?

  • I think this is a dup if someone has time to dig.
    – mpdonadio
    Sep 22, 2015 at 18:16

3 Answers 3


I had a similar situation. My situation is attach a file to a node in the creation of a different content type node. Done this in hook_node_insert

  1. Initially i uploaded all files into a temp directory in /default/files/.
  2. Then for each node, i created a new file object with my file attributes.
  3. Then moved that particular file into the destination where i want the files to be placed. This results a clean complete file object with fid.
  4. Then simply assign this file object attributes to file field and save the node.

The code used is follows..

$source_node = node_load($nid);
$filename = $bio_file_name; //your specific filename 
$dir = 'public://temp-path/'.$filename; //path to specific file with name
$file_size = filesize($dir);

//New file object
$file = new stdClass;
$file->uid = $source_node->uid;
$file->filename = $filename;
$file->uri = $dir;
$file->filemime = file_get_mimetype($dir);
// Make it permanent, otherwise it will get deleted later.
$file->status = FILE_STATUS_PERMANENT;
// Save file object to make it a 'managed file'.
$file_obj = file_move($file, 'public://newpath', FILE_EXISTS_REPLACE);

$source_node->your-file-field-name['und'][0] = array(
 'fid'  => $file_obj->fid,
 'uid'  => $file_obj->uid,
 'filename'  => $file_obj->filename,
 'uri'  => $file_obj->uri,
 'filemime'  => $file_obj->filemime,
 'filesize'  => $file_obj->filesize,
 'status'  => 1,
 'display'  => 1,
 'description'  => '', 


Hope this will help you..


Add file / image fields

// Some file on our system
$file_path = drupal_realpath('somefile.png'); // Create a File object
$file = (object) array(
  'uid' => 1,
  'uri' => $file_path,
  'filemime' => file_get_mimetype($file_path),
  'status' => 1,
$file = file_copy($file, 'public://'); // Save the file to the root of the files directory. You can specify a subdirectory, for example, 'public://images' 
$node->field_image[LANGUAGE_NONE][0] = (array)$file; //associate the file object with the image field:

For more details

  • Just an obvious reminder: The original file is still left (in the example above, "somefile.png" with the full path to it as $file_path). You may want to delete it afterwards with unlink($file_path)
    – reedbert
    Nov 2, 2018 at 3:18
  • Also, consider setting 'uid' => $GLOBALS['user']->uid, instead if it's going into an file that was composed by the current user.
    – reedbert
    Nov 2, 2018 at 3:24

In addition to Abin: also set the file usage by adding this code after the node save:

file_usage_add($file_obj, 'file', 'node', $source_node->nid);

See the drupal docs.

One more thing apart from this: it is best practice to use LANGUAGE_NONE instead of 'und'.

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