Best WordPress download manager plugins (plus create a front-end download manager)
A WordPress download manager plugin enables you to organize files, make them available to team members or site visitors, and track downloads. You can also choose to restrict access to downloadable files so only certain people can access them or make them publicly available to your site’s visitors.
While there are several WordPress download manager plugins available, not many let you create a searchable front-end WordPress download manager with quick download links.
With this in mind, in this post, we’ll explain how you can create a fully-functional WordPress download count manager using the Posts Table Pro plugin. We’ll also show you how to control user access to files, see who’s downloaded files, start selling downloadable files, and much more.
What are WordPress download managers?
A WordPress download manager plugin allows users to control, manage, and track file downloads from within a WordPress site. In addition to this, some users might also need to be able to sell downloadable files online.
Although WordPress is a complete content management solution, it doesn’t come with a download manager out of the box. Fortunately, you can use a WordPress download plugin to add one to your WordPress site.
Here are some examples of businesses and individuals that can benefit from using WordPress download managers:
- Site owners who offer downloadable files directly through their website (such as free resources and e-books or a WordPress document library).
- Business owners that need to sell downloadable files directly through their website using e-commerce. For instance, software, music notes, or graphic design templates.
- Businesses looking to track the number of file downloads through marketing campaigns.
Here are some real-world scenarios where you might need a WordPress download manager on your website:
- Do you offer e-books, checklists, or other downloadable resources as lead magnets for generating qualified leads?
- Are you an online course instructor looking for a way to sell audio (or video) online course lectures to students?
- Do you need an easy way to make sales enablement documents available to your sales department through your website so they’re easy to access on-the-go?
- Are you a developer/design agency that sells website templates or design files to customers?
There are several WordPress download manager plugins available that are suited for specific purposes. They offer all kinds of neat features including file organization capabilities, download tracking, and team collaboration functionality. Of course, the download management solution you end up using will depend on your own needs and requirements.
Benefits of having a WordPress download manager
It’s fair to say that the WordPress’ native user interface gives you control over file management downloads to some extent. That said, it’s by no means the most efficient way to manage downloadable files or keep track of downloads.
With a full-blown WordPress download manager, you’ll be able to:
- Password-protect files.
- Track the number of downloads.
- Manage downloadable files.
- Restrict unauthorized users from accessing your WordPress files.
- Organize and sell digital downloads from your site’s front-end.
Best WordPress download manager plugins
Although there are various download manager plugins out there for WordPress, you’d be hard-pressed to find a solution that lets you set up a front-end download management system. Here, we’ll introduce Posts Table Pro – a WordPress download manager plugin that lets site owners display downloadable files (along with important file management information and download links/buttons) in a searchable and sortable front-end table layout.
Posts Table Pro: The best WordPress download manager plugin
The Posts Table Pro plugin enables you to list all of your downloadable files in a one-page table layout. The best part is that you can use it to list all sorts of downloadable files, including:
- Downloadable audio files, lectures, and music.
- Graphic design files such as PSDs, SVGs, and vectors.
- E-books, checklists, forms, and manuals.
- Digital images and photos.
- Website templates.
These files can be easily searched and sorted using filters which makes it easy for users to find the files they’re looking for. In its most basic form, users can choose to either quick access files online or download them to their machines.
Let’s take a look at some of the standout features on offer with the Posts Table Pro plugin:
- It lets you easily create dynamic table layouts for listing downloadable files in a neat and organized way.
- You’ll be able to display multimedia content directly in your table including audio files, media playlists, video players, and images. This is great for providing a quick preview.
- Search, sort, and filter options make it easy for users to quickly find the exact files they’re looking for. In addition to this, they can also use the sort or filter options to only view certain types of files.
Why Posts Table Pro is the best WordPress download manager plugin
Here are some of the main reasons why you might consider using Posts Table Pro to manage downloadable files on your WordPress site:
Reason #1: It’s incredibly easy to use
One of the reasons why Post Table Pro is best suited for all sorts of site owners is that it organizes all your download files in an easy-to-use, interactive table layout on the front-end. As a result, users can quick access and download files without involving the admin or creating a user account. What’s more is that Posts Table Pro makes it easy for site owners to organize files using categories, tags, and custom taxonomies.
Reason #2: It integrates seamlessly with other useful plugins for advanced functionality
Posts Table Pro integrates with other useful plugins giving you quick access to advanced download management functionality. For instance:
- Password protection. Post Table Pro seamlessly integrates with the Password Protected Categories plugin allowing you to hide a portion of your website from public view. This sort of functionality can be used to protect a specific download category, its sub-categories, and all of the digital files that fall under it.
- Selling files. Posts Table Pro also works smoothly with the popular Easy Digital Downloads plugin making it easy for site owners to easily sell digital goods directly through their website and accept payments using PayPal and Stripe.
Reason #3: Premium support from the developers
Since Posts Table Pro is a premium plugin, you can expect to receive support directly from the developers. In addition to this, you’ll have quick access to a knowledge base and tutorials (including video tutorials!).
Other best WordPress download manager plugins
While Posts Table Pro has a unique approach that gives you more flexibility than many other plugins, there are some other great WordPress download manager plugins out there – many of which you can integrate with Posts Table Pro for the best of both worlds.
Here are some of the best options:
- WordPress Download Manager – this plugin helps you manage and organize downloads with a dedicated “Downloads” custom post type. You can use it for backend file download management and then use Posts Table Pro to create the frontend interface, which you’ll see in the tutorial in the next section.
- Easy Digital Downloads – if you’re looking to sell file downloads, Easy Digital Downloads provides a more heavy-duty approach to file management that also builds in full eCommerce support. You can also integrate Easy Digital Downloads with Posts Table Pro to more easily display downloadable products from Easy Digital Downloads.
- Download Monitor – this plugin has more of a focus on restricting access and tracking download numbers. Like the WordPress Download Manager plugin, it uses standard custom post types to store your downloads, which means that you can display them in a table layout with Posts Table Pro.
How to set up a WordPress download manager on your WordPress site
Setting up a fully-functional, front-end WordPress download manager is incredibly easy with Posts Table Pro. Here, we’ll explain how to quick add downloadable files to your WordPress site. In all of these instances you’ll do your file upload through the drag-and-drop file user interface of the WordPress media library. You can add a new file by uploading as you would an image to a blog post.
Step #1: Install and activate the Posts Table Pro plugin
To get started, purchase the Posts Table Pro plugin if you haven’t done so already.
Log in to your WordPress admin panel, navigate to Plugins → Add New and click the Upload Plugin button. Click the Choose File button and upload the zipped Posts Table Pro plugin folder to your website. When it’s done uploading, click on the Install Now button to install it to your website.
Next, activate the plugin by clicking on the Activate Plugin button on the following screen.
Finally, head over to Settings → Posts Table Pro and enter your license key.
Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen. By now, you’ve successfully installed and activated the Posts Table Pro plugin.
Next we’ll show you several methods for how to add downloadable files to your website.
Step #2: Quick add downloadable files to your website
There are three different ways to go about adding downloadable files to your WordPress site and display them with Posts Table Pro. Below, we’ll take a brief look at each of the three methods to help you decide which option is right for you.
Method 1: Create a custom post type for files using Pods
One way to create downloadable files in WordPress is by creating a custom post type and custom taxonomies using the free Pods plugin. You’ll be able to choose the number of custom fields you’d like to add to your custom post type. After that, you can add files to the custom post type and list them in a searchable and sortable table using Posts Table Pro.
Using this method, you’ll be able to add as many custom taxonomies, and custom fields as you want. This means that you can store unique data about each file you make available for downloading. You’ll also have complete control over which fields you’d want to support. For instance, you can choose to support featured images and excerpts or leave them out entirely.
One thing to bear in mind is that you’ll have to create your own custom post type before you can upload any files. Plus, you won’t be able to see who downloaded your files.
If this is what you’re looking for in a WordPress download manager, check out these complete step-by-step instructions for adding downloadable files to your website using Pods.
Method 2: Add files to your website using WordPress Download Manager
The second method involves using the free version WP Download Manager (WPDM) plugin. This comes with a built-in custom post type for adding downloadable files. You can also organize files by creating as many categories and tags as you want. After you’ve installed the plugin and created categories and tags you can upload files instantly.
By adding tags and categories, you can enable your visitors to easily find the type of files they’re looking for. Plus, you’ll have access to complete history of who downloaded which files.
WPDM comes with a number of custom fields and taxonomies for storing information about your downloads. You can display all of these on the front-end with Posts Table Pro. You can also use a free plugin such as Pods to add extra fields to the ‘downloads’ post type – ideal if there’s extra information you want to include.
Tip: If you need to be able to keep track of downloads, we recommend going with this approach. Check out the complete step-by-step instructions.
Method 3: Uploading files to the WordPress Media Library and displaying them directly
Methods 1 and 2 involve creating a custom post type for each download. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have to link it to the downloadable file in the Media Library. However, there’s another way that enables you to list files from the WordPress Media Library directly on your site.
By following this method, you won’t have to create a custom post type to store data about each downloadable file. In addition to this, the overall setup process becomes easy if you’ve already added the downloadable files to your site’s Media Library.
You won’t get access to a dedicated Downloads area if you choose to go with this method. Instead, downloads will be displayed alongside other Media Library files such as images and videos. If you want to store information about media files, you’ll have to manually add custom fields, taxonomies, and categories. You can use the knowledge base to further customize the front-end download manager to your preference.
For more information about how you can do this, here’s a link to the complete step-by-step instructions.
What else can you do with the Posts Table Pro WordPress download manager?
As we mentioned above, one of the key benefits of using Posts Table Pro as a WordPress download manager is that it integrates seamlessly with several different types of WordPress plugins and add-ons. This way, it makes it easy to leverage advanced download management functionality. Here are some extra features that you can make the most of by using Posts Table Pro:
Sell downloadable files
If you’re looking for a way to sell downloadable files, you can pair the Posts Table Pro plugin up with Easy Digital Downloads. Easy Digital Downloads is one of the most popular e-commerce WordPress plugins that lets users sell digital goods.
If you’ve already set up the Easy Digital Downloads plugin on your website, you can start adding files as digital products to Downloads. Then, you can proceed to list the downloadable files in a table format using our Posts Table Pro plugin. By integrating Easy Digital Downloads with Posts Table Pro, you can sell downloadable files to your customers directly from your WordPress website.
With a searchable, sortable, and filterable dynamic front-end layout, you’ll be able to enhance the user experience your site delivers. This means that your products will be easily searchable and your customers will easily be able to find what they’re looking for (particularly useful for ecommerce shoppers), enabling them to add multiple downloadable goods to their ecommerce cart at once.
To learn more about how to get started selling downloadable files online, check out our guide for the complete step-by-step instructions.
Tip: Don’t fall foul of EU VAT rules!
If you’re selling downloadable products online to customers in Europe, then you may not realise that you’re legally required to charge EU VAT – even if you’re not in the EU yourself. It’s the law!
Fortunately, you can easily meet European tax rules with the Easy Digital Downloads EU VAT plugin:
Control file downloads through password protection
If you need to create a download manager for your organization, you‘ll likely need more control over who can access the downloadable files. Our Password Protected Categories WordPress plugin offers two easy ways to do just that. Here the plugin acts as an access management plugin.
One way to achieve this sort of functionality is by marking categories as Private. This will ensure that only logged in users with the correct role capabilities will have access to the downloadable files that fall under those categories. By default, only the WordPress user roles Editors and Administrators can see private categories. If you want to make them accessible to other user roles, we suggest that you check out our tutorial on how to manage user access to private content.
Another way to control user access to downloadable files is by password protecting categories. This will ensure that only users with the correct password are able to access password-protected downloadable files.
With these methods you’re in complete control of file access and access control.
See who has downloaded files
Methods 1 and 3 (mentioned above) don’t let you see who downloaded your files. However, Method 2 (i.e. using the WP Download Manager plugin) gives you access to the complete download history. This makes it easy to keep track of who downloaded files from the front-end table layout, and download stats including how many times a particular file was downloaded.
The download history can be viewed by navigating to Downloads → History from the WordPress admin panel. You’ll see a table that looks something like this:
You’ll also be able to export the entire download history in .CSV format or delete it from your WordPress website. You can use the exported data to determine which files were downloaded the most over a period of time.
Host files on cloud storage
You can upload and serve downloadable files from cloud storage platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox instead of your website’s hosting server. This will enable you to save hosting resources such as storage space and bandwidth.
The benefit of cloud storage is that you can always recover your files in case your server crashes or your site gets hacked.
To do this, you’ll need to add a custom field to your WordPress post and use the Posts Table Pro plugin to display it in the table. Method 1 (i.e. using Pods) makes this incredibly easy. Method 2 (WPDM) also has an extension that allows you to store your downloads externally.
A WordPress download manager enables you to make file versions available for downloading directly through your website, track the number of downloads, and manage user access. Posts Table Pro is the best WordPress download manager solution out there since it allows site owners to make downloadable files available to users directly from the front-end. In addition to this, the download plugin integrates seamlessly with a plethora of WordPress plugins. As a result, you have the flexibility to choose exactly what sort of solution to go with.
- If you need to store (and display) data about your downloadable files (such as file management size, price, author, etc…), we recommend using Posts Table Pro with the Pods plugin (Method 1).
- However, if having a download monitor and keeping track of download counts is important to you, you should opt for the Posts Table Pro and WordPress Download Manager option (Method 2).
- And if you’re looking for a simple, straightforward way to showcase downloadable files in a table layout — without the need to store file data — simply upload files to the WordPress Media Library and display them in the front-end table layout (Method 3).
Do you have any questions about how to set up an interactive, front-end WordPress download manager? Let us know in the comments section below.