Wondering how to require email to download files in WordPress? This guide will show you how to create a form for your WordPress gated content!
Approximate read time: 5 minutes
How would you like to double your email list? Sounds pretty good, right?
Well, that’s the power of requiring an email to download files (aka, using gated content) on your WordPress site.
And you can set it up on your WordPress website in minutes to start growing your email list today.
So, that’s exactly what we’ll teach you. After this post, you’ll have a beautiful form that converts readers into subscribers through WordPress downloadable files.
Let’s get started.
Why use WordPress for downloads and email capture?
If you’re posting valuable content to your WordPress website, some people want access to it.
And getting an email from a website visitor is the perfect way to create a connection with them.
So why not combine the two?
And that’s where gated content comes in.
Gated content is like putting a bouncer in front of your famous club. You can get in, but only if you clear the bouncer first.
And that’s fantastic for your lead generation, email marketing, or a more extensive list.
You can also use various file management tools: Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or even WordPress!
So, this is the tutorial for you, whether it’s showing a document or learning how to send & download a PDF file after form submission in WordPress.
Let’s get to the WP file download guide.
? Want to put a download button on your website?: How to Link a Button to a Form in WordPress [A Simple Way!]
How to require an email address to download a file in WordPress
Formidable Forms is the best form-building WordPress plugin.
Its drag-and-drop builder and advanced features like Formidable Views handle anything you need. And that includes creating a form for your gated content.
So, grab Formidable, get it installed and activated, then we’ll start with the guide. If you need more information, check out our KnowledgeBase docs!
There are four easy steps to follow before your visitors can fill out a form to download a file:
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Create your file upload form
First, we need a way to upload your files to get them into your subscribers' hands.
So we’ll create a form for your content upload. Head to Formidable → Forms and click Add New inside your WordPress dashboard.
Next, choose Blank Form and give your form a name.
The plugin will take you to our drag-and-drop builder, where you can customize it. You only need two simple fields for your upload form: Text and File Upload.
Drag the fields to the builder, then click the Text field to change the field options.
Change the label to “File Name,” and check the Required and Unique boxes.
Next, drag your File Upload field (file block) to add it, then click Update to save your changes.
The last thing we must do is protect the content so that not everyone can see it.
So, go to Settings → Form Permissions and check the box next to Protect all files uploaded in this form and Prevent search engines from indexing uploads.
Click Update to save your changes, and it’s on to your file upload!
Step 2: Upload your file and create a View
To add your gated content, click the Entries tab at the top of the page, then click Add an Entry.
Your file upload form will open, and you can give your file a name and choose the file type you’ll add. (You can also choose from the WordPress media library.)
Last, click Submit, and your file is ready.
Now, it’s time to create a way for your file to display.
And Formidable Views is the perfect tool for the job. Views is an application builder that allows you to take your entry data and…well, do anything you want with it!
So, in Formidable, click Views.
Click Add New in the Views section, choose Classic for the template and give your View a name.
Select your Protected Files form in the View editor as the Use Entries from Form choice.
Click the + inside the View, which will open the View editor. Off to the right side, you’ll see a panel containing the fields from your form and the numbers next to them.
We’ll use these to make it easy to open the file.
So, to create a download link in WordPress, type the following in the Text Editor to add a download link or file URL:
<a href=”[File Upload #]”>Open [File Name #]</a>
So, for example, our editor would look like this:
Once you’ve customized yours, click Update view to save your changes.
Next, we want to add a filter to the Advanced Settings of the View to make sure everything shows:
Last, copy the shortcode on the View Editor's left side. It should look something like this:
You’ll need this in the next step.
Step 3: Create your signup form
Last, we need a form for our website visitors to enter their email.
It can be a simple contact form, email capture form, or anything that collects an email.
So, go to Formidable → Forms and click Add New to create one. Click Blank Form and give the form a name, then click Create.
We’ll add a Name and Email field to the form to keep things simple. We’ll also check the Required box for the email, so the visitor can’t submit the form until it’s entered.
Feel free to add any other fields to your form before you click Update to save your changes.
Next, click Settings and scroll down to the On Submit section. You should set the dropdown to Show Message.
Then, under the Messages section, paste the code you copied in the first step into the text box.
Click Update to save your changes. Now, whenever a user fills it out, they can click the link to open your gated content or see the download in progress!
Or send the link to the WordPress file download in the confirmation email.
Either way, you’ve done the hard part.
Step 4: Display your signup form
The last step is to show your signup form to the world so they can subscribe!
So, head to the post/page where you want to show your form and add a new WordPress block.
Search Formidable and click Formidable’s WordPress block to add it. Next, choose your signup form from the dropdown menu.
Last, click Update, and your form is live and ready to accept submissions!
Are you ready to require email to download files in your forms?
If you’re not using gated content yet, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity for your email list.
Its power to collect email addresses before directing the visitor to a digital download manager or attachment is fantastic.
And this post showed you how easy it is to use an email before download WordPress plugin like Formidable for your gated content.
So, if you’re ready to start, don’t waste time and grab Formidable Forms now!
Or, if you’re wondering how to make a file downloadable in WordPress, check out this guide on creating a WordPress download PDF button!
And follow us on social media for more WordPress tips and tutorials: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
This doesn't test that the email is valid, I know I've done this before with your help pointing to the correct article, but months later can't find it....
Would be great to have an automated solution for this repetitive task.
Hi Craig, Sorry we missed your comment! Here are the instructions to verify an email address . Instead of showing another form, you can show the files instead.
[email protected] says
Thank you so much for the step by step instructions
Jason Earrame says
Good article. I have been using Forms to collect information for years and have settled on Formidable for the last few years as the only one I use. Collecting email addresses is a must and really simple to do.
Eric Schlange says
this is a cool tool.
Ruben Hiemstra says
Thanks for this blog, learned a lot!
Devon Page says
I've only just started to use Formidable and the functionality, and supporting documentation has been excellent. Thank you for this guide.
Thanks so much for the kind words! Welcome to the Formidable Family.
Excellent. I have used this for a couple of projects and it's a great marketing solution.
Glad you are liking it!
Zackarias Aitchison says
This is great!
Another similar option that I've used (which also works great) is to use the "Send Email" action, which allows you to include a file attachment an automated email back to the person filling out the form. I like this option because you are guaranteed that the email address will be a valid one, or else they won't receive the email!
Great suggestion. As long as you have a reliable email system set up so you can be confident emails are going through, this is a great option.
This is a nice option. But how do you attach the file that has been uploaded via the "download manager form"? And if I send a mail with the file, can I do it without showing the view to the user?
You can send the uploaded files as an email attachment without a view. Or you can include the View shortcode right in the email. This is a built in feature of our pro version. If you need help with this, please reach out to our support, and we are happy to assist.
For multiple white papers: I'd like to not ask the visitor to fill out the form if they have done before, but still I'd like to get a notification when they download additional files.
Hi there, Thanks for your question. It sounds like you're looking for more of a members-only area?
Noureddine Yous says
I am very interested in the functionality described in this post. However it does not seem to be available in the free version of the plugin. Do I have to upgrade in order to get it?
Thanks for a quick reply
Yes, the above tutorial does require features only included in the paid versions of the plugin. You would need to upgrade in order to create this setup using Formidable Forms.
Do I need to create multiple forms/views to offer different files to be downloaded (some page, other pages)? Or can the filename be passed via an url parameter and use one form? Otherwise if I have many files, creating many forms is not a dynamic solution...
Sure, you can upload multiple files in the same form. It'll just need an extra filter if you don't want to show all the files at once.
Would I get access to this functionality with the basic version of the plugin or would I need the pro?
The tutorial above does require Views to work, so you would need at least the Forms + Views Basic package in order to execute the above functionality.
Jonathan Roth says
Hi - does anyone know how/if this would work on substack?
I'm not very familiar with substack so I'm not 100% sure, but I think you could possibly integrate the two services using Zapier. There isn't currently a native substack integration.
Hi there, can this be used to download different files based on the user's selection?
Basically I have a site with about 22 PDFs, and I want it to download the correct PDF based on which one they have selected from a dropdown, or based on which page they are on. Is this possible?
Based on my understanding of your use case, I think you could probably make this work, but you may want to reach out to our support team with a few more details to be sure. It may be possible you'll need a membership plugin to achieve what you are after.
Amanda Bronscheer says
Something is wrong for me. i cannot choose PFD file ... Is that possible ??
Hi there, there may be a few reasons for this. Could you please contact our support team and we can help you out with that?