A guide on how to upload files to WordPress

A guide on how to upload files to WordPress

Looking for the best ways to accept WordPress file uploads? This article will cover the 3 most effective methods for you and your site users. Each of them is fast, reliable, and highly secure.

File uploads are an essential aspect of any website on the internet. Most websites today are essentially a set of pages displaying text and media files. In WordPress, file upload is a very simple and straightforward process. The most common approach is to use the Media Library uploader.

But some WordPress sites have unique file upload needs. For example, you may want subscribers and site users to add their own files to your site. This comes in handy if you accept resumes, guest posts, or screenshots for customer support. Similarly, it makes sense to allow WordPress file uploads on certain ecommerce product pages, combined with dynamic pricing functionalities.

Whatever your WordPress file upload needs may be, this article will cover everything you need to know. We'll show you 3 highly effective methods that work for both you and your site users.

Each method is very easy to follow. So, it doesn't matter if you're a newbie or an experienced WordPress user. You can start adding files to your site and accepting uploads from your users in minutes. Let's dive in!

How do I upload files to WordPress?

One of the many reasons why site owners love WordPress is the sheer number of options available. This applies to WordPress file uploads too. The ecosystem offers multiple tools you can use to add files to your website and embed them in different locations. You can add upload files to your sidebar or even in a popup.

How to choose the right WordPress file uploader

So, what do you look out for when you want to choose the right approach? The most important factor is your site's use case. Different tools focus on different upload needs. For example, an add-on like WooCommerce Product Options allow WordPress file uploads while placing orders. This would be ideal for a custom t-shirt designer store.

However, building a searchable music or document library that supports file downloads requires a different tool. You could use Document Library Pro in this case.

wordpress file upload searchable table

Once you've defined your needs, you also need to look out for the following:

  • Ease of use and file accessNot all WordPress file upload methods allow you to access your files from the Media Library. This can be an issue when you need to quickly use them on your site. The best file uploaders have a simple drap-and-drop interface. They also allow you upload files in bulk.
  • File size limitationsDifferent upload methods also have different file upload size limits and restrictions on the number of files. For example, the default Media Library uploader's typical upper limit is 64MB. You can increase this limit with an FTP client like FileZilla. But this method has its limitations as well. We'll talk more about this later.
  • Performance and technical issuesIt's also important to use only stable and well-maintained plugins. Common WordPress file upload issues are related to permission errors, compatibility, and incorrect file paths. Upload speeds are equally crucial, especially for large files. Certain upload issues are also peculiar to specific file extensions.
  • Security risksFor security reasons, you'll need to be on the lookout for unstable tools that may also pose threats to your website. Of course, malicious files will always be dangerous, irrespective of the upload method.

To escape these common issues, we'll show you 4 tested and trusted WordPress file upload methods. Then we'll show you how to use them.

1. Add files to the Media Library or via FTP

One of the most common ways experienced WordPress users add files to their sites is via FTP. The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) allows you to upload files to the server hosting your site files. All you need is an FTP client and your site server's login credentials.

The major advantage here is the sheer amount of control you get. Most FTP clients like FileZilla act like a file manager on your local computer. So, you can copy or move files and even upload folders as you wish.

filezilla wordpress file upload

Alternatively, you can use WordPress file manager plugins to achieve this level of control too. But there's a particular restriction with FTP clients. The files you upload aren't visible in the Media Library. So, how do I upload files to WordPress without FTP?

The Media Library is the easiest and most straightforward way to upload files to WordPress. It allows you to upload files directly within your site's admin area. You can then add these files to your posts and pages while creating and editing them.

wordpress media library file uploader

Skip to this section to learn how to add files directly to the Media Library.

2. Use a WordPress plugin

There are numerous WordPress file upload plugins. These tools allow you to upload files in a variety of ways. They also add additional features such as CSV bulk uploader. You can also use them to complete other tasks aside from file uploading.

Like we mentioned earlier, each tool focuses on different functionality. For example, Document Library Pro allows you to display files in a searchable download library on the front end. It also has a drag-and-drop interface. You'll also get some intuitive file management and download features for both the front end and back end.

wordpress file upload searchable table

Other interesting file manager plugins are also worthy of note. In general, these plugins improve on the default WordPress file upload functionalities. All without the need for an FTP client or any other third-party tool.

Skip to this section to learn how to upload files with Document Library Pro.

3. Allow users to submit files in a form

What if you want to add user-generated content to your website? There are many instances when you need your site visitors to be able to upload files. This can either be for your use or for other site visitors. It makes sense to accept these file uploads in a WordPress form.

For example, you can enable WordPress file upload for users submitting support tickets. The files could be screenshots or even PDF files with clear details about their request. Or you could choose to accept audio files in a public copyright-free music repository.

In this case, we highly recommend a file upload form plugin like Gravity Forms. The plugin supports file upload fields that accept documents. You can also use them to upload image files and many other additional file types. This way, you can display contact forms anywhere on your WordPress website.

gravity form add wordpress file upload

But what if you want to list the uploaded files in a searchable database on the front end? We recommend Document Library Pro. Using this plugin, users will be able to navigate your site and discover files very quickly. It also allows your users to submit files in a form very easily.

Skip to this section to learn how to allow users to submit files in a form.

4. Accept file uploads on WooCommerce product pages

For WooCommerc store owners, improving your store's shopping experience is always a priority. Introducing file upload fields can be a very effective way to achieve this. You get to sell more product types and in turn, earn more revenue.

WooCommerce Product Options allows you to achieve this and more. Among several other features, you can set allowed file types and a maximum file size. Additionally, you get to choose whether the upload field is required or not.

woocommerce product options new image upload fields

There are several other ways to upload files to WordPress. But we'll cover only these use cases in this article. Now, let's examine how to use each of these methods in detail.

Skip to this section to learn how to accept uploads on WooCommerce product pages.

Method 1: Upload WordPress files in the admin dashboard

For this method, we'll focus entirely on how site administrators can upload files to their site. Of course, you'll need to log in to your WordPress dashboard and have at least 'Author' permissions.

We'll first look at the default approach of using the Media Library uploader. Next, we'll show you how to use a plugin to get even more WordPress file upload options.

Using the default Media Library uploader

Uploading files to the Media Library is a simple process. After logging into the admin area, go to Media → Add New. Then click Choose File. Select the file you want from your local storage and click Upload.

wordpress file upload media library

This method allows you to add one file at a time. To upload multiple files at once, click Switch to the multi-file uploader.

multi-file uploader wordpress file upload media library

This uploader allows you to simply drag and drop files from your local storage. And they will be uploaded to the site. Alternatively, simply click Select Files.

To extend the default WordPress Media Library uploader's features, you can get a plugin. You can't go wrong with Document Library Pro.

Uploading files with a WordPress plugin - Document Library Pro

For the optimum user experience, the best way to upload files to WordPress is to use Document Library Pro. The file library plugin makes it super easy to upload, manage, and display files in minutes.

document library pro wordpress file upload

The tool offers a file upload interface that mirrors the typical WordPress post or page creation process. This mean you can add different attributes like an excerpt, category, tag, etc. This can come in very handy in some store types.

You also get a bulk CSV file uploader supported by a drag-and-drop uploader. After uploading your files, Document Library Pro then allows you to display them in interesting ways.

document library pro import files

You can either display them in a searchable download library. Or simply present them within a table. This increases the file library navigation significantly.

wordpress file upload searchable table

To use this plugin, you need to first get your copy here. After that, you'll receive an email with a downloadable ZIP file and license key.


  1. Log into your WordPress admin area and go to Plugins → Add New → Upload Plugin.
  2. Select the plugin ZIP file. Click Install Now then Activate Plugin.
  3. Use the setup wizard to apply the basic settings and activate your license key.

Now, go to Documents → Import. Click Select Files to upload files from your local storage. The plugin allows you to see multiple files at the same time. And you can also use the drag-and-drop feature.

document library pro wordpress upload files

Or do you have a CSV file with multiple files? You can complete a bulk import in the CSV upload section. Ensure the file is in the correct format. The plugin will create a new document for each row in the CSV file. You can learn more about this in this guide.

Displaying your files in a searchable download library

This section is for site owners who want user to be able to find and download files on the front end. Document Library Pro allows you to serve your users file downloads in different ways.

Before displaying your files in a library, it's important to add some data. To do this, go to Documents → Add New.

document library pro wordpress file sharing plugin add new file

Here, fill in all the important information fields like author, file size, and category. You can also add a featured image and excerpt.

Upload the file under the Document Link tab. To add a previously uploaded file, simply use the 'A custom URL' option.

document library pro wordpress upload files searchable library

When you're done, click Publish and you're good to go.

Next, go to Documents → Settings. This is where you set all the default options for your file libraries.

document library pro wordpress file sharing plugin default settings

For example, you can select the data fields you want to display in your file library in the Document fields section. You can choose one or all of these options: content, excerpt, featured image, and comments.

You can now add a file library with the [doc_library] shortcode.

Depending on the option you chose, these files will appear either in a grid layout:

WordPress audio library grid layout

Or table layout:

Generic document resource library

You can also choose which files to display based on categories, tags, and other attributes. Follow this link to see the detailed list of shortcode options for displaying different file lists.

Method 2: Upload files to WordPress from the front end

Wondering how to create a file upload form in WordPress without a plugin? We guess you really don't want to. Without a plugin, you'll need to write quite a lot of PHP code. Or otherwise employ a WordPress developer, just to accept WordPress file uploads. That will take more time and money than the cost of a plugin, while also bringing worse results.

There are two excellent plugins to consider, depending on your needs.

Upload files to WordPress without displaying them on the front end

You can do this with a form builder plugin like Gravity Forms. The plugin makes it very easy to accept file submissions through your site forms. This is ideal for job boards, membership sites (profile photo upload), eLearning platforms, and online competitions.

All you have to do is get the plugin. Once you've set it up, go to Forms → New Form. In the editor, click Add Fields → Advanced Fields in the right menu. Then drag and drop the File Upload field into the form.

gravity form add wordpress file upload

Upload files to WordPress and display them on your website

And for even better results, we highly recommend accepting file submissions with Document Library Pro. Why? The plugin not only allows your users to upload files. After accepting their submissions, you may also want other users to access the files in a searchable database.

All you need to do is insert a 'Submit file' form anywhere on your website. To add the form, simply create a page and add the shortcode: [dlp_submission_form]

The form will contain all the fields which are enabled for your documents, such as the title, excerpt, author, and so on.

Of course, you want to first install and activate the plugin on your site. You can follow the same process in the previous section to do this.

Finally, let's walk you through how to allow users to upload files when placing orders in a WooCommerce store.

Method 3: Allow users to upload WordPress files when ordering products online

WooCommerce Product Options is the best WordPress file upload plugin for online stores. The tool allows your customers upload almost any type of file, such as an image upload on the product page. This answers the question; "How do I upload only certain types of files to WordPress?" It is also beginner-friendly and in just a few clicks, you can enable file submissions for WooCommerce sites.

woocommerce product options

Product Options lets you to set a maximum file size and decide whether the upload field is required or not. Additionally, you can combine the file upload fields with several other extra product options. And there are lots more features to explore.

Ready to add file uploads to your WooCommerce product pages? Start by getting your copy of WooCommerce Product Options here.

Once you've installed and activated the plugin, go to Products → Product Options → Add Group.

woocommerce product options add new options group

On the next page, set the group name and select the products or product categories you want the product options to apply to. Then click Add option.

woocommerce product options add new option in group

Add an options name and select File upload under the Type section.

woocommerce product options add image upload field

Next, scroll down to edit the file upload field settings. For example, the Label appears beside the WordPress file upload field on the store's front end.

woocommerce product options image upload field settings

Pay attention to the Required box. Check this box to make the field required to be able to add the product to the cart.

Once you're satisfied with your selections, click Save.

Now when you go to the WooCommerce single product page, you'll see your newly added file upload fields.

woocommerce product options new image upload fields

Now when a shopper uploads files on a product page, they'll see the files in their cart and during checkout.

After clicking Add to cart, the shopper will see a link to the uploaded file in their cart. They can click the link to review the file in a different tab.

uploaded image on woocommerce product page in cart

The link is also available on the checkout page and in their order confirmation email notification.

uploaded image on woocommerce product page on checkout page

As the store owner, you can also find the file link on the individual order page by going to WooCommerce → Orders.

manage order image upload on woocommerce product page

This makes it very easy to manage file uploads on your WooCommerce product pages and deliver the buyer's exact order.

Do more with WordPress file uploads

Uploading files to WordPress is a straightforward process. Whether you are uploading images, videos, or audio files, WordPress has got you covered. In this tutorial, we've shared some powerful tips for WordPress file uploads. With these tips, you can take full advantage of the media library and enhance the visual appeal of your website.

Of all the available upload methods, we discussed the easiest and most efficient:

  • Upload files in the WordPress admin areaThis is the most common way to add files to WordPress. You can either use the Media Library, an FTP client, or the Document Library Pro plugin which comes with drag and drop file upload, plus CSV bulk import.
  • Let users upload files to WordPress from the front endAgain, you can do this using Document Library Pro's front end file upload form, and then optionally display the uploaded files on your website.
  • Accept file uploads on WooCommerce product pagesFinally, you can enhance your ecommerce products with file upload fields. WooCommerce Product Options is the best tool for achieving this.

Ready to add WordPress file uploads to your website? Then get your copy of Document Library Pro today.

We hope this detailed step-by-step guide has helped you to upload files to WordPress. Did you face any issues along the way? Kindly let us know in the comments section below!

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