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How to Control File Downloads Using WordPress Download Manager

How to Control File Downloads Using WordPress Download Manager

Many webmasters prefer to share anything valuable with visitors. To make things easier, they always add a “Download It” button to a file. That makes the file downloadable. If there is a need to control file downloads so as to protect a certain number of files from the public, you should control your downloads.

WordPress developers have released multiple free plugins for that purpose, among which WordPress Download Manager is selected in the following guide. This plugin has won thousands of active installs. Most users regard is as a powerful and easy-to-use method to control file downloads in WordPress site.

Benefits of Controlling WordPress File Download

We have concluded two benefits of controlling file download in WordPress. Those are mentioned as below:

  1. Controlling file downloads is a great method to protect private content or the files with high value. That keeps the web content away from malicious reprint. Only users who know the password or get the permit can download the password-protected file.
  2. It is an effective way to make money online. Encrypt valuable files and makes those only accessible for paid users. Visitors would like to pay for the files under password protection and then get valuable information as they want.

Control File Downloads Using WordPress Download Manager

WordPress Download Manager plugin helps users control file downloads by using user roles protection and password protection. Visitors who get your permission can access to the encrypted files. Also, this powerful plugin allows users to sell digital products within website. It is easy to set price for each item and manage all digital products online. That is perfect for some e-commerce websites.

WordPress Download Manager Plugin

Step 1: Install WordPress Download Manager Plugin on Your Website

Having had an overview of WordPress Download Manager plugin, you should set about installing it on your website. Things will be much easier if you install and activate this plugin via WP admin > Plugins > Add New.

Step 2: Install Add-Ons to Enable More Functions (Optional)

Once activating WordPress Download Manager plugin, you are redirected to a welcome page automatically. Some add-ons, like Advanced TinyMCE button, WPDM Extended Short-codes and WPDM Page Template, are available for you. Also, you can explore more free add-ons thereby making the WordPress Download Manager more functional.

Install WordPress Download Manager Plugin

A list of new features is shown on the page. Get started with Menu > Downloads > Add New and then take a good use of this great plugin.

Step 3: Create the First Downloadable File

Target a new option called “Downloads” and go to Downloads > Add New. And then, you come to an edit page named as Add New File. Give the downloadable file a proper title and type it in the “Enter title here” field. Below that, add a brief introduction to this downloadable file or leave it blank. That depends.

Create Downloadable File

Move to the “Drop files here” section and upload the selected file here. There are two ways available for file upload. One is uploading file from your computer and another is selecting a file from your website. The downloadable file can be a post, image, plugin, theme, and anything as needed. Note that, the maximum upload file size is 8MB.

By the way, you can increase WordPress file upload limit by modifying .htaccess, theme functions file or php.ini file. The file attachment is shown at the top of this section. Feel free to delete it or upload a new file.

Select Downloadable File

Scroll down to the bottom of this page. The File Settings section is where to customize the file link label, password, stock limit, download count and allow access. Edit a text for the link in “Link Label” and give this downloadable file a password if there is a need to encrypt it.

Perhaps, you can control file downloads by setting stock limit and download count instead of encrypting the file. For example, we set the stock limit as 200 and that means 200 visitors are allowed to download this file. Also, it is possible to make a decision on which user roles are allowed to access to this downloadable file.

Downloadable File Settings

Move to the Icons tab. There is an array of premium icons available here. Select the most suitable one for your downloadable file. Perhaps, you are allowed to upload more icons via Menu > Media and paste the image URL to the “Icon URL” field.

File Settings Icon

Having all settings done, click “Publish” button to make the first downloadable file public. You are encouraged to create as many downloadable files as needed in the same manner.

Step 4: Embed Downloadable File in Anywhere As You Want

All downloadable files are shown in the Downloads List. Go to Downloads > All Files and there is where to edit, delete or view a certain file. Each downloadable file comes with a specific shortcode. Copy and paste the shortcode in any page or post and then embed the downloadable file.

File Downloads List

Consume that you have created a new post or page as planned. Insert the shortcode into this post/page and then save all changes. Check if the downloadable file can be displayed successfully. If so, it would be shown as the following example. That is set by complying with the steps mentioned above. In this way, visitors need to enter the right password and then download this file.

File Download Example

If you set the stock limit instead of encrypting the file, then the file download should be shown as below.

File Download Example

Control the File Download using Google Analytics

In most cases, you may use Google Analytics to track the daily visits and the referral traffic of your site. But actually, you can also leverage it to track how your offerings are downloaded by your visitors.

Firstly, you need to have a Google Analytics account. Then, you can enter the dashboard of Google Analytics and click the Admin link at the top location of the whole screen and the Goals button afterwards from the View column.

Goals Button

Now, you can create the new goal. This practice requires you to enter the Goal Descriptions and Goal Details.

  • Goal Description – This part firstly requires you to enter the goal name for the better management. As for the goal type, you have 4 options to choose. But this time, you need to choose Event.
  • Goal Details – In this part, you need to set the event conditions for Category, Action, Value and Label. The Category condition allows you to group different downloads for the overall tracking. The Action condition is the actual call-to-action result you are looking for. In this situation, you should enter Download. The last two conditions are not necessarily required, but offer the additional information for this new goal.

Create New Goal

After completing all the fields and settings, you now can click the Save button to have the new goal created successfully. Here, do not forget to turn on the Recording option for this goal from the Goals page.

Next, you need to insert the below coding stuff into your website for the activation of the download tracking. Here, you need to replace the values within the brackets based on the values you have entered into the Goal Details.

Track Event Code

That’s it. Now, you can check how many people have downloaded your items by clicking Behaviors > Events button in the Google Analytics dashboard.

Track Event

Control the File Download using Simple Download Monitor Plugins

If you do not want to monitor your file downloads using Google Analytics but inside your website for the great convenience, you can consider the use of Simple Download Monitor plugin. However, if you choose this method, you cannot create and add the download links to your site in a manual way, but should use the Add function of this plugin.

Before creating the downloads, you firstly need to go to its settings page. Here, you need to uncheck the boxes that will hide the download count, only track the downloads from some special IP addresses and disable all your download logs.

In addition, you can choose the color for the download button among 10 options.

Simple Download Monitor Settings

Now, you can add the new downloading item by clicking Downloads > Add New. Here, you firstly should enter the title and the description for your downloading item. Note that for the better description, you are allowed to insert some media contents.

Next, you can move down to the Upload File, and then, click the Select File button or enter the file URL directly.

Before clicking the Upload button, you need to make some further adjustments and add some further information of this item. For instance, if you upload an image, you can scale it for the better dimensions and crop it with the proper ratio. Even, you can determine the thumbnail setting of this image.

Edit Image

Then, you need to enter the extra information, such as the title, alternative text and description of the downloading item. Also, you can determine the alignment and the size for the thumbnail.

Download Item Information

Now, you can publish this download and enter the page that you are going to showcase the download button. Here, you can click the SDM Download button in the Visual Editor, and then, choose the item title from the drop-down list, decide whether to include the fancy box and determine whether to open the download link in a new window. After that, you can hit the Insert SDM Shortcode button.

SDM Download Button

Also, you can display it in the sidebar by using the shortcode, which can be found at the Edit Download page from the Shortcodes section.

Now, you just need to wait a few days and track the downloads by clicking the Downloads button. Here, you can clearly check how many times your item is downloaded by your visitors.

Download Count

Even, you can check the IP and country of these people by clicking the Logs button.


Lucy has been a very experienced SEOer, technical writer, web developer, c# developer since 2002. Now she owns a startup in San Francisco, CA, focusing on running a couple of blogs to share knowledge and experience with global readers and deliver exceptional results to global sponsors by leveraging the power of Internet.