How to Password Protect Downloads in WordPress

One of the main issues you might face by offering downloadable content through your WordPress website is managing user access to files. You need a simple tool that lets you password protect downloads and documents so you can easily restrict access to certain users.

Having the option to password protect downloads means that you can share resources with users in a secure way and it also gives you better control over file downloads.

In this post, we’ll take you through a step-by-step tutorial to help you password protect your downloads. But before we jump into the tutorial, let’s quickly take a look at some of the different types of password-protection methods you can use to restrict access to files and documents in WordPress.

Password protect downloads, files and documents

Adding password protection to WordPress means that your site’s users will be able to access the files and documents by entering the correct password. Two of the most popular password protection methods in WordPress are simple password protection and multiple password protection.

Simple password protection is when you restrict user access to your files and documents by creating a single password for all users. It’s the simplest method for restricting access to files in WordPress.

You should use simple password protection if you’re looking for an easy way to restrict access to content and/or you only have a few users you’d like to grant access to.

For instance, if you’re a graphic artist or a freelancer, you may need to grant certain clients access to your digital portfolio to give them an idea of your past work. You can also use simple password protection to protect your files if you’d like to give users access to member’s only content on your membership site.

Multiple password protection, or protecting content with multiple passwords, is great for when you want to give different types of users access to downloadable content.

This method of protection gives a different password to each user (or types of users) while making it easy for you to manage and revoke access to site content from the back-end.

This is particularly useful when you want to grant access to a large, segmented list of contacts or if you want to make downloadable documents available to different types of customers.

There are other ways to restrict access to content in WordPress including CAPTCHA, Google ReCAPTCHA, user role protection, and unlock via link. For more information, be sure to check out our post on the 6 Different Ways to Restrict Content in WordPress.

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How to password protect downloads, files, and documents in WordPress

Here, we’ll show you how to password protect downloads, files, and documents. For this tutorial, you’ll need your WordPress website and some downloadable files. You’ll also need to get the Filr plugin and the Passster plugin.

Step #1: Create a new list for password-protected downloadable files using Filr

Start by creating a new list for your downloadable files and documents. This will enable you to keep all of the downloadable files organized in the back-end.

For instance, if you want to add more resources to a file, update it, or revoke access to it entirely, you’ll know exactly which list it’s located in.

New list in Filr

Go to Files > Lists from the WordPress dashboard, give your list a name, and provide a brief description. After that’s done, click the Add New List button to continue.

New list shortcode in Filr

The new list will automatically be added to the right-hand side of the page along with a shortcode. We’ll use this shortcode in Step #3 to display the document library on the front-end of your WordPress site so you should copy it to your clipboard.

Step #2: Upload files and documents to WordPress

Filr makes it incredibly easy to create a document library in WordPress, enabling you to securely add files in any format straight to your website. It comes with encryption and protection features out of the box which ensures that unauthorized people can’t download files.

Using Filr, you can:

  • Upload one or more documents directly to a secure folder on your WordPress site
  • Group documents by lists to make it easier to manage files on the back-end
  • Expire files based on the number of downloads or a specific date
  • Restrict direct access to files using filename encryption

Go to Files > Add New and give a name to your files. Then, use the File Upload meta box to upload the files you’d like to make accessible to your site’s users.

New file in Filr

Categorize it under the list you created in Step #1 using the Lists meta box located on the right-hand side of the page.

Use the Expire by date and Expire by downloads options to control the expiry of downloadable files.

Click the Publish button to continue.

Pro tip: You can enable filename encryption by toggling the Encrypt Filename option on.

Step #3: Add the document library to a page

In this step, we’ll display the document library on the front-end of your website. Start by creating a new page by navigating to Pages > Add New. Name the page and copy-paste the shortcode from Step #1 to a new shortcode block in the text editor.

Filr list shortcode in Gutenberg

Press the Publish… button to continue. A document library will automatically be created on the front-end of your website and it should look something like this:

Preview of Filr document library

Your website users will be able to download files by clicking the button(s) in the Files column.

Pro tip: You can use the Filr plugin to customize the appearance of your document library by going to Files > Settings from the WordPress dashboard and clicking the Shortcode tab.

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When you are ready to be a pro – come back!🎩

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Step #4: Password protected downloads using Passster

A simple way to manage access to downloadable files is by using the Passster plugin. You can use it to enable single or multiple password protection for downloadable files and documents.

Here’s how you can configure the Passster plugin for simple password protection:

Navigate to Settings > Passster from the WordPress dashboard and click the Shortcode tab.

Passster single password shortcode

Make the following configurations:

  • Go to the Protection Type option and select Password from the dropdown menu.
  • In the Password field option, enter a password or press the Generate Password button to automatically generate a strong passcode.
  • Click the Save Changes button.

A new shortcode will automatically be generated for you. You can restrict access to files and documents using this shortcode.

Passster single password protection

And here’s how you can set up Passster for multiple password protection:

Navigate to Settings > Passster from the WordPress dashboard and click the Addons tab. Toggle Activate Multiple Passwords to on. Click the Save Changes button.

Passster activate multiple password

Next, head over to the Passwords Lists tab and click the Add new Password List button. Name your password list (such as Downloadable Docs Access) and enter a list of passwords separated by commas in the text field.

Password list in Passster

You can also enable the password expiry feature by setting the Expire Passwords option to Yes. This means that the passwords will be valid for a single login attempt only. In other words, they’ll automatically be removed from the password list once they’re used.

Click the Save Password List button.

Finally, navigate to the Shortcode tab and choose Multiple Passwords in the Protection Type option. Select the newly created password list i.e. Downloadable Docs Access, using the Password List dropdown menu.

Passster multiple password shortcode

When you’re done, click on the Save Changes button. A shortcode will be generated automatically which can be used to restrict access to downloadable documents.

Multiple password protection


Password protect downloads and documents become much easier with Filr and Passster. It’s a great way to restrict user access to downloadable files without compromising on user experience.

To recap:

  • Single password protection involves creating a single password for all users. It offers an easy way to restrict access to content, especially when you’re looking to grant access to a handful of people only.
  • Multiple password protection can help you grant different users (or types of users) access to files and documents. It also makes it easier to manage and revoke access to downloadable resources.

Ready to password protect downloads? Get Filr and Passster today!