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How to Use WordPress for Document Management or File Management

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One common challenge WordPress users face is document management or file management.

Keeping track of revisions, access control, and simply locating the files you need can quickly become a time-consuming nightmare if you’re managing a team. But here at WPBeginner, we’ve got the solution.

In this article, we will show you how to use WordPress as a document management or file management system. This way, you’ll have a streamlined system for storing, organizing, and collaborating on all your website’s essential documents.

How to use WordPress for document management and file management

Why Use WordPress to Manage Documents and Files?

If you are a part of the content team, then you may be using multiple platforms to communicate and work on your tasks.

For example, you might share drafts using a platform like Google Drive, track the project with Asana, and communicate with your team members using Slack. Then, you’ll have to publish the final draft along with the images in WordPress.

The problem is that it’s easy to lose track of a document when you are using so many different tools.

If these files and documents will be used for your WordPress site, then we recommend keeping everything in one place in your WordPress dashboard. This way, you can efficiently manage, update, and publish content without the confusion of navigating through different tools.

By default, WordPress has a built-in media library that you can use to store various kinds of files. The catch is that you can only store and organize files in it and not much more.

With that in mind, we will show you how to use WordPress to manage your documents and files easily. You can use these quick links to navigate through the steps:

Step 1: Install WP Document Revisions and Members Plugins

The easiest way to set up a document management system in WordPress is by using WP Document Revisions. This plugin allows you to work on files with other people, store documents online, and see a complete revision history for each document.

Another plugin you should install is Members. This plugin allows you to create and customize the permissions for WordPress user roles, which will be handy for managing the documents’ accesses.

For this guide, the free version of Members is enough. However, you may want to upgrade to the premium MemberPress version to get more features, like adding membership levels, creating gated content, and restricting access based on different membership levels.

The first thing you need to do is install and activate these plugins. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Then, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Upload a New Document to WP Document Revisions

After activating the WP Document Revisions plugin, you’ll see a new ‘Documents’ option in the left-hand menu.

Let’s try uploading a document to WordPress. To do this, head over to Documents » All Documents. Then, click the ‘Add Document’ button.

Document library add new document

Next, you need to give the document a title. This should be something that helps you identify the document, especially if you share the WordPress dashboard with other people, such as guest bloggers.

With that done, click the ‘Upload New Version’ button.

Upload a file or document to WordPress

This opens the ‘Upload Document’ popup, which works similarly to the standard WordPress media library.

You can either drag and drop your document onto the popup or click ‘Select File’ and then choose a file from your computer.

WP Document Revisions will now upload the file to WordPress.

Upload new document

WP Document Revisions has powerful version control features. This can help you collaborate with other people by showing a document’s entire history. You can even open previous versions of the file and restore an earlier version at any point.

Every time you upload or update a document, you can type a note into the Revision Summary.

Revision summary box

These notes will appear in the revision log towards the bottom of the screen, next to the name of the person who made the update.

If the update included a new file upload, then you’ll also see a ‘Restore’ link.

Revision log and restore

Simply click the link to restore this version of the document. Even if you revert to an earlier version of the file, the history will remain intact, so you won’t lose any information.

With that done, you can set the document’s workflow state.

If you share the dashboard with other people, then this lets everyone know that the document is an initial draft, under review, in progress, or some other state. This can help you avoid misunderstandings and improve the editorial workflow in multi-author WordPress blogs.

Simply open the dropdown under ‘Workflow State’ and then choose an option from the list.

Using WordPress for document management and file management

Next, you may want to add a description, which will help other users understand what the file is about.

To do this, simply type into the text editor. This section includes all the standard text formatting options, so you can add a link and create bullet points and numbered lists, as well as add bold and italic formatting and more.

Adding a description to WordPress documents

You may also want to add a document image, which can help users understand the file or provide extra information, similar to an index or appendix.

The process is similar to adding a featured image to WordPress posts and pages. Simply select ‘Set Document Image’ and then either choose an image from the media library or upload a new file from your computer.

Adding an image file to a document in WordPress

When you upload a file, WP Document Revisions marks you as the document’s owner.

To assign this file to someone else, just open the ‘Owner’ dropdown and choose a new user from the list. This can help keep your documents organized, especially if you’ve added lots of users and authors to your WordPress blog.

Changing a document owner's in the WordPress admin area

By default, WP Document Revisions will publish the file privately so only logged-in users can see it.

Another option is to publish the document to your WordPress website so people can access it without logging into the dashboard.

Even if you publish the document, it’s still a good idea to add a password by clicking on the ‘Edit’ link next to ‘Visibility.’

Making files and documents live on a WordPress website

Then, select ‘Password protected’ and type a secure password into the ‘Password’ field.

With that done, click on ‘OK’ to save your changes.

How to password protect a file in WordPress

Don’t want to use a password? Then, you can follow the same process described above, but this time select ‘Public.’

No matter how you publish the file, WP Document Revisions will show its URL directly below the title. People can see the file by visiting this URL.

To create a custom permalink instead, click on the ‘Edit’ button.

Changing the URL permalink in WordPress

Then, type in the new URL and click ‘OK.’

When you are happy with the information you’ve entered, click on the ‘Update’ button to save your settings.

Step 3: Create Your Own Workflow States for Documents

As you have seen in the previous step, workflow states make it easy to see whether a document is an initial draft, in progress, or some other state. Similar to how you save blog posts as drafts or published, states can improve the editorial workflow.

WP Document Revisions comes with four default workflow states: final, in progress, initial draft, and under review. You may need to change these default states or add more states.

To change the workflow states, go to Documents » Workflow States. If you want to customize an existing state, then just hover over it and click on the ‘Edit’ button.

Customize existing workflow states

This opens an editor where you can change the name, slug, and description of the workflow state. This is similar to how you edit categories and tags in WordPress.

Once you are done making changes, click the ‘Update’ button.

Edit existing workflow state

You can also add new workflow states.

In Documents » Workflow States, type in a new name, slug, and description. Then, click the ‘Add New Workflow State’ button.

Add new workflow state

Step 4: Manage User Roles and Document Access in WordPress

By default, WP Document Revisions assigns different document editing capabilities to people based on their user role. For example, authors can’t edit documents published by other people or read privately-published documents.

The default permissions should be a good fit for most websites. However, if you want to review and change any of these settings, then the easiest way is by using Members.

After installing and activating Members, go to the Members » Roles page to see all the different user roles on your WordPress website.

Changing who can access and edit documents in WordPress

Here, hover your mouse over the user role that you want to modify.

You can then go ahead and click on ‘Edit’ when it appears, which opens the user role editor.

How to edit user roles in WordPress

The left column shows all the different types of content.

In the left-hand menu, click on ‘Documents.’

Changing the file and document permissions

You’ll now see all the permissions this user role has, such as the ability to delete another person’s files or edit their own documents.

Simply click on the ‘Grant’ or ‘Deny’ checkbox for each permission.

Granting and denying permissions in WordPress

When you are happy with the changes you’ve made, click on ‘Update.’

For a more detailed look at the Members plugin, please see our guide on how to add or remove capabilities to user roles in WordPress.

Saving custom user permissions in WordPress

After installing this plugin, you can even control who has access to each document. Simply head over to Documents » All Documents.

Here, hover over any file and click on the ‘Edit’ link when it appears.

Editing a document's settings in WordPress

Now, scroll to the new ‘Content Permissions’ box. Here, you’ll find a list of all the user roles on your WordPress blog or website.

Just check the box next to each role that needs to access this document.

Restricting document access based on user role

In this section, you’ll also see a Paid Memberships tab. This allows you to restrict access to paying members.

For more information, please see our ultimate guide to creating a WordPress membership site.

When you are happy with the changes, click on ‘Update’ to save your settings like before.

Paid membership settings

Learn More Ways to Manage WordPress Files

This guide showed you how to use WordPress to keep all your important documents organized. But that’s not all WordPress can do! Here are some ways to make managing your files on WordPress even easier.

Do you need to upload files like spreadsheets or presentations to your website? Our guide on how to add additional file types to be uploaded in WordPress can help. It will show you how to make WordPress accept those files too, so you can keep everything in one place.

Want to make it easier for people to tell what kind of file something is at a glance? Our article on how to add attachment file type icons in WordPress is perfect for you. It will show you how to add little pictures next to your files so everyone knows if it’s a document, a video, or something else.

Finally, if you need to upload PDFs specifically, we’ve got a guide for that too! how to upload PDF files to your WordPress site will show you an easy way to get those PDFs on your website and make sure they look right.

We hope this article helped you learn how to use WordPress for document or file management. You may also want to see our expert pick of the best WordPress activity log and tracking plugins and our guide on how to automatically empty your WordPress trash.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

19 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Nansee says


    I’m glad to see there is a plugin for this – but it won’t let me upload my document. I’m trying to upload a .accdb file that can be opened by different employees to keep the document up to date, but it say it’s not supported. Is there a way to upload this file format somehow? It’s the only one my employer has at the moment.


    • Ron says

      I have multiple files to migrate from a third party cloud. I want to have my documents available through my website but don’t want to spend more time than necessary. So, I’m also wondering about being able to bulk upload.

  3. tushar says

    Hi, thank you for this post I agree with you that WordPress as the platform and WP Document Revisions as your document management system provides an open source alternative to costly collaboration tools. very useful information

  4. Maria ahsan says

    it was an awesome post and it became very useful for me . it stated about how to use wordpress for document management software , after trying that i had a positive response and it became useful for me and my company .

  5. Michael Adkins says

    I think this plugin will work for me. But stull have questions. I want to use the plug-in to display a list of our club minutes on a secure page. The documents will be uploaded by the secretary in their final state. So there will be no revisions. I just need to be able to add a slug to a page that provides a list of the documents and a user can then click and download the document to read.

    So here are my questions.
    1. When uploading a document can I state the category of the document and then only display the list of documents in that category on a wordpress page?
    2. Where does the plug-in produce the slug or how to I care a slug.
    3. Can documents be set to defult as a final state?
    4. If someone downloads a final state document does it still lock out other users from downloading the same document.

    Thank you so much for your time and plugin.


  6. Matt Griffin says

    If you want a more powerful plugin for document management in wordpress, look up SP Client Document Manager. It has a lot more control over who can see different files (permissions) and a ton of other features as well.

  7. Chris says

    Hi there, thanks for this good article. Is there a way to make the document status ‘Public’ by default? Thanks in advance!

  8. Sarah Stanley says

    I have just installed WP Document Revisions and have loaded up some documents that are for public consumption.
    I can link to these documents individually within posts and pages, but I want to have one page on my site that will show all published documents without having to add the links manually.
    Is there the functionality to do this?
    I thought I would be able to just add the Documents header to the menu bar to do this, but it doesn’t seem to work this way.
    I would like just one menu button that takes users straight to this page so they can see all published documents without having to run all over the site trying to find them.

  9. Chad says

    I installed this… How come I can upload *.doc and *.docx? I imagine there are more since these are the first two I’ve attempted.

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