How to Create a Download Link in WordPress

While writers claim confidently “text trumps visuals”, graphic designers emphasize “no way, visuals rule the world!”

Actually, these two elements, text and images, always go together on every website in general and WordPress sites in particular. Without one of these, we couldn’t imagine how boring a WordPress site would be. Content with eye-catching visuals like pictures, infographics, and memes helps tell your story and transmit your message in an engaging way.

We use pages, posts, and other custom post types to add content to a WordPress site. WordPress media files, meanwhile, are managed in a section namely Media Library and each file is assigned an attachment page once being uploaded. People can download these files if they have the files’ downloadable links.

Not mentioning WordPress content at the moment, we would love to dig deep into WordPress download links: what they are, how to add one to your posts, and the way to manage them.

What Are WordPress Download Links?

Similar to a page or post’s URL, a download link refers to the URL of your WordPress media file, containing the website domain, the file slug, and the file type at the end. For example

Before you read further.... Free Download (PDF)

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To get the download link, you first have to upload your file to your Media Library. Then WordPress will generate one for each file automatically. You can edit this link as well.

Instead of having to open a blog post and viewing your images or PDFs there, users can access and download them right with the download links. Anyone with this link can see your file.

In addition, the download link can be shared with other people and used on other websites freely, which is also called image hotlinking. In other words, instead of downloading an image then reupload, theft gets its URL and displays it on the content. Every time users load their page with the image, this means they are using your bandwidth.

How to Create a Download Link in WordPress

The following guide shows you how to create a downloadable URL in detail. After logging into your WordPress admin dashboard, go to the Pages or Posts section and open your desired content. Then, take these steps:

  1. Click Add Media under the post’s title and you will see a Media Library showcasing all your existing files
  2. Choose your file or visit the Upload Files tab to upload a new one
  3. Hit Select Files, pick one or multiple files from your computer, and click the Insert into post button. You can also simply drag and drop files to upload.
    pda-wp-add-media-screen 2
  4. Fill in the image’s alt text and description (optional). It’s possible for you to get the file’s URL in the Copy Link box

There may be times when you want to reuse an uploaded file in another post. Looking for old ones in the Library with hundreds of images can make you mad since WordPress doesn’t allow you to search for files by names.

So we recommend you get that file’s URL in the previous post and insert it into a new one.

  1. Open and view the old post that your image is already embedded
  2. Right-click and copy the file’s address
  3. Go back to the new post’s edit screen and enter the link where you want to display the image
    You can also click Add MediaInsert from URL → enter the file’s URL → Insert into post

The process is pretty simple, right?

As mentioned, once uploaded to your WordPress media library or added to pages and posts, your file can be viewed and downloaded easily. That’s why you need to protect these download links from unauthorized users. Wondering why? Keep reading!

Protect Your Download Links with The PDA Gold Plugin

Let’s imagine:

  • You organize an online course website, create ebooks, and sell them to students on your WordPress LMS site.
  • You offer whitepapers to solve your site members’ problems.
  • Your photography website shows unique images that you don’t want anyone to download except the paying customers.

Whatever the cases are, you shouldn’t make these files downloadable to everyone apart from students, customers, and members, or your team members.

If your hard-to-produce ebook is available on search engines, people can search as well as getting it effortlessly. Can you estimate how much revenue you will lose?

That’s where Prevent Direct Access Gold should become your great assistant. The plugin is designed to secure your files’ original URLs and replace them with protected links. This means that unauthorized users will see a 404 page whenever browsing the unprotected file URL (the original file URL).

The protected link works as the new file URL allowing specific users like admins or logged-in users to access it.

Rather than letting users freely access your original file URLs, you can create private download links permitting users to download them. To grant users access to your file, you can send them the file’s private download links via email marketing or social media so that they can download it.

However, these links will become deactivated after a number of clicks or a given time. You can even customize your download links to make them more meaningful and legitimate to your users. For example:

  • Original file URL:
  • Random download URL:
  • Custom download URL:

How to Use Prevent Direct Access Gold Plugin

You must download the PDA Gold plugin and have it activated under the WordPress Plugins menu in your admin dashboard.


Take these 5 steps to start generating download links for your WordPress files:

  1. Visit your WordPress Media Library
  2. Click “Configure file protection” of any file you want to protect
  3. Auto-generate a new download link or customize your own link

The auto-created link will never expire. Everyone can use it to download your file at any time. Simply click the Edit icon to change the settings.

In the plugin’s General Settings page, you can enable the Auto-protect New File Uploads option to secure all your files automatically once uploading them to your WordPress site.

Create and Protect Your WordPress Download Links

It’s simple to add an image or a media file to your WordPress Media Library and your page/posts. Upon uploading, WordPress will automatically create a download link for the file. This link is accessible and downloadable to everybody.

However, it’s recommended to protect your file URLs and replace them with private load links enabling authorized access only. Online course providers, photographers, and digital product sellers will best benefits from this useful feature.

Do you still have a question about how to create private download links for your WordPress files? Let us know in the comment section below.