I’ve had the privilege of reviewing a couple of other plugins created by CreativeMinds, like the CM ToolTip Glossary and CM Answers. So when another of their plugins came across my desk, I had to check it out. This time, I got my hands on CM Downloads Manager Pro and two things impressed me straight away: It’s intuitive, and it’s compatible with the other CM plugins I’ve tested.
CM Downloads Manager is a free and premium plugin for WordPress that allows you to set what users can both upload and download to and from your site. It supports a variety of files from documents to music files and allows for password protection, retail store checkout integration, file previews, and more.
Let’s take a look at some of what this plugin has to offer.
The CM Downloads Manager plugin has a variety of potential uses, many of which are outlined on CMinds’ site. Still, I thought it was important to mention them here because it provides context for the setup process.
Let’s say you want to sell plugins of your own. You could use this plugin to password protect downloads of the plugin files and integrate it with an e-commerce solution. Or, if you want to offer downloads of music files you’ve created, you can easily do so once people sign up as users. You could even offer free downloadable white papers this way. Anything you’d like users to download could be offered easily and securely this way.
Free Version Features
The free version, which is available for download in the plugin directory on WordPress.org, includes quite a few features you can put to use right away including:
- Download categories
- View count on each download
- A support forum for each download
- The ability to vote on each download
- Customizable template
- Image preview
- Internal search engine for downloads
- Users can track downloads
- Users can opt-in or out of email notifications for questions submitted through the support forums:
As you can see, this is just the basics. If you plan on offering a feature-rich downloading experience, you’ll need the pro version.
Pro Version Features
CM Downloads Manager Pro offers a lot of features, so please bear with me as I try to go over them all. For starters, you can add second level categories, which is especially helpful if you’re offering a lot of downloads. There’s multisite support and you can filter search results by more variables like date, download type, and username. You can also use custom CSS, get rid of the CMinds Gratitude message in the footer on download pages, and modify permalinks as you see fit. You can even set a disclaimer to first-time users about your downloads.
Beyond these general features, you also get greater access control and moderation options in the Pro version. Set user group permissions and record all downloads by registered as well as non-registered users. You have the option to then view this log by date, download name, or user and export it via CSV file format. You can also set view restrictions on each download. Some may be available to everyone while others might be only viewable to those who are logged in. Another essential feature the Pro version includes is password protection:
Additionally, set upload restrictions, request users’ names and email addresses before allowing downloads, and utilize geolocation info on each download. There’s plenty of support for shortcodes, too, such as downloads, a downloaded items list widget, updates, top contributors and related downloads.
One thing I really liked about this plugin is the ability to fully customize the download pages. You can set an external URL or even a shortcode for a download instead of uploading a file – which is really useful when integrating with a shopping cart plugin. You can also opt to display more tabs on each page to give downloads fuller descriptions. Add view counts, a slide show, and a social sharing widget, too.
On the support forum front, the Pro version adds the ability to remove the support forum altogether or display additional tabs. You can set how you want comments to be displayed, enable moderation of comments, and automatically approve comments from verified users:
Add links to Google Docs or embed an MP3 player for music files:
Or embed an MP4 player for video files:
Finally, there’s plenty of additional user management features, like the ability to integrate registration with social media profiles including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Microsoft Live. Public user profiles and Gravatar and BuddyPress integration are also included. You can view a demo of all of this in action over on the CMinds site.
Setting It Up
Approach the setup process for this plugin the same as you would any other. Simply add the plugin by uploading it via .zip file in the admin dashboard. After entering your activation key, you should see this menu on the left hand side of the dashboard:
Then go to the “Settings” link and set your permalinks under the General tab. Then select what file extensions you’d like to permit to be uploaded and define access settings for users. Basically, decide which users you’d allow to upload files. Often, just editors or just administrators are given this permission. It’s best to take care of this upfront so you’re not left fiddling with it later. Save your changes then click “Add New” to add your first download. You’ll be taken to the Add New Download form:
The form also includes fields for adding a detailed description of the download and installation instructions. You can also add a change log, screenshots, password protection, and opt-in for support question notifications:
Once you input all of this information and save it, you can modify it later via your user dashboard:
As you can see, you have the option to edit, delete, or unpublish your downloads. This is also where you can view how many downloads each item has received. When all is said and done, the page that lists out all of your available downloads will look something like this:
This plugin offers a ton of features and I highly recommend you poke around for yourself to uncover everything. Truly, there’s far too much to cover here but I hope this has given you at least a broad view of how the plugin works, why its useful, and why I recommend it.
CM Downloads Manager Pro might not be for everyone. After all, not everyone has a need to offer downloads on their websites. But for those who do, this is a relatively inexpensive, easy to set up and easy to use solution. Setting permissions is straightforward and can be modified at any time. Likewise, you can establish how downloads are presented, and have the option of including social sharing, Gravatars, previews, and more. All in all, a pretty handy plugin for those looking to venture into the downloads market, if you ask me.
Have you used this plugin – free or premium? If so, what do you think about it? Have you found it to be useful? Please let me know your thoughts below.