An even better way to handle free downloads

Free Downloads is hardly a new product. In fact, Free Downloads is the brainchild of a collaboration that occurred during Prestige Conference Vegas in March of last year. In its early days, Free Downloads was super simple… really just a modal that overrode the default purchase button on free products, collected an email address, created a purchase record, and delivered the requested file to the user. It didn’t have much flexibility, but it did its job!

Over the last year and a half, Free Downloads has exceeded all expectations and grown to be one of our most popular official extensions. Despite its popularity, it hasn’t grown nearly as much as it could have over the last year, but version 2.0.0 is finally here, and it’s more powerful, more flexible and full of features requested by you, our awesome customers!

However, before we get into the nuts and bolts of our latest release, let’s take a look at just what Free Downloads does for those users who are just joining us.

“Buying” free products

Easy Digital Downloads has always done one thing, and done it well: selling digital products with WordPress. This isn’t to say that it can’t handle free products, it just wasn’t designed for free products. By default, “purchasing” a free product looks basically the same as purchasing any other product. You add it to the cart, run through the checkout process, and your file is delivered. Effective, but not terribly intuitive. The below screenshot shows what this looks like to a customer.

A free product in EDD cart

Free products shouldn’t be bought

If a product is free, users shouldn’t be forced to run through the checkout process. The Free Downloads extension was written to fix this problem. It provides a simple, streamlined interface through which users can download free products, while still maintaining the purchase history that site owners depend on. The same product that we purchased above, when run through Free Downloads, can be seen in the below image.

The Free Downloads modal window

Just fill in your email and hit the “Download Now” button and your product is effortlessly delivered. This is a much more streamlined user experience! No multi-page process, no concept of “purchasing” a free product… just one simple step.

We can be better

Yes, earlier releases of Free Downloads accomplished their goal, but there was always room for improvement. Free Downloads 2.0.0 is the first huge step towards unlocking its true potential. Beyond the expected minor bug fixes and tweaks, this update drastically increases the flexibility of the plugin itself. Let’s take a look at some of the new features you can expect to find in version 2.0.0!

Support for bundled products and multi-option purchase mode

Long requested and finally realized, we’ve added support for both bundled products and variably priced products with multi-option purchase mode enabled. If you have a variably priced product with multi-option purchase mode enabled, Free Downloads now calculates the cumulative value of the selected options and displays the relevant button dynamically. In other words, if you have two free options checked, it’s handled by Free Downloads. If you have one free and one non-free option checked, the purchase is handled by Easy Digital Downloads itself (yes, this means a free product is added to your cart).

The Free Downloads meta boxBundled products takes a little more explanation. If you create a free bundled product, and check the “Use On Bundle” option in the Free Downloads meta box (shown at right), the bundle will be handled by Free Downloads regardless of the value of the products it contains. This means that if you have a $30 product in the bundle, the user will get it for free! Without the “Use On Bundle” option checked, the bundle will be treated like any other product and users will have to go through the checkout process.

Multi-file support

Free Downloads has supported auto-downloading products for a while now, but previous versions only supported this functionality on products with a single downloadable file. If you tried to download a product with multiple files, only the first listed file would be downloaded, though all would be available through the purchase receipt. Again, not really a great user experience. This update aims to fix that by adding automatic compression of all files in a multiple-file product.

In the Free Downloads settings section, there is now an info line which displays when Auto Download is enabled identifying whether or not Free Downloads is capable of compressing files on the fly. If you want to use Auto Download, but compression isn’t supported on your site, we’ve added a fallback option. The “Download Archive” field shown in the above meta box serves as an override for free products. Simply compress the files you want your customers to receive, upload the compressed file to your server, and enter the URL to the archive in that field and it will be served automatically.

Flexible free product links

The shortcode provided by Easy Digital Downloads is great at displaying standardized links, but sometimes you want something different. To make things easier for those of you who want more flexibility, we’ve added a new edd_free_download shortcode. This shortcode takes one argument, download_id, and requires a close tag. Anything between the open and close tags will be displayed as a free download link. For example, if I wanted to create a link that used the image of our friendly mascot Edd, I could enter the following into the WordPress editor:

[edd_free_download download_id="123"]<img src="https://easydigitaldownloads.com/wp-content/themes/edd-v2/images/mascot/edd-sitting.png">[/edd_free_download]

Bypassing the modal

We now support two frequently requested features: auto-downloads for logged in users, and an optional “direct download” link in the modal. For the direct download option, simply enable and configure the link to your liking, and a new link will be displayed under the download button in the Free Downloads modal. Clicking this link will automatically download the product without the user having to fill out their email address or other required information.
Free Download with Direct Download enabled

Support for remotely hosted files

Until now, free downloads were limited to locally hosted files. However, an increasing number of our users are hosting their files remotely on an external server, through Amazon S3, or similar. As of release 2.0.0, we now support files which are hosted on external web servers and Amazon S3. Unfortunately, files hosted on Dropbox are not currently supported due to a limitation in the Dropbox plugin.

Modal templating

We’ve always wanted to allow greater flexibility in the modal, but form builders are almost universally difficult to maintain and work with. It’s taken us a full year to decide how to handle this, but we’ve finally added template support for Free Downloads. Rather than building a form builder and dealing with the inevitable onslaught of support tickets that form builders produce, we’ve opted for the more minimalistic template file method employed by Easy Digital Downloads itself. If you want to override the current modal (or mobile download page), simply copy the files in the edd-free-downloads/templates directory to an edd_templates folder in the root directory of your active theme, make your changes and you’re done! If you need a bit more guidance, we have a doc on how to work with template files here.

How to get it

If you have already purchased Free Downloads and have a valid license key, the update can be installed directly from the Plugins page of your WordPress Dashboard. If you prefer to update manually, the update can be downloaded from your account page.

If you haven’t purchased Free Downloads yet, there’s no time like the present! Head on over to the extension’s details page for pricing and more information.

Comments

joschen

Used to love the Free Downloads add-on but can’t use it any longer since using Auto Register (which is a must for us).

Every time someone downloads something for free, a WordPress account is created and the user receives an email with username and password which is bloat.

I hope the feature to bypass the creation of a WordPress account will be part of Free Downloads in the future.

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Hey Johan!

I actually thought we’d included support for the Auto-Register extension… guess not! We’ll make sure we get that added in. Other than bypassing auto-registration, is there anything else you want to see?

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joschen

Wow that’s awesome to hear Dan! Other than that feature I can’t think of anything else for now, can’t wait!

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Just thought I’d give you a heads up that thanks to your comment, we now have a fix for the Auto Register issue staged for the next release!

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joschen

Best news of the week!! πŸΏπŸŽ‰

We’re in a similar situation, should we wait to update until Auto-register support is added?

It’s certainly up to you! The update is already staged for the next release (in other words it’s already written, just waiting to finish a few more updates that are slated for the next release), and the price isn’t likely to change between now and then so whether you buy it today or when the update comes out is completely up to you!

Ido

Is it working with Restrict Content Pro?

There are so many issues with RCP together with EDD and the bridge between them.

Even tho that I applied 100% discount (free) for active members it is still asking them to pay in the cart.

I contact EDD and RCP multiple times before regarding the issue but they did not solved it yet.

This plugin can help me?

Thank you

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To be honest, I’ve never tried it with the two of them together. Do you have an open issue regarding your problems with EDD Member Discounts? I’d be happy to take a look!

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Ido

I’m sure I have an open ticket somewhere.

can I talked to you by mail and not here through the comment system?

Thank you

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I just took a quick look and don’t see any tickets under your email address. Why not submit one by going to https://restrictcontentpro.com/support/ and we’ll see if we can help!

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Ido

OK, I just open another support ticket:

I’m using RCP as my membership plugin and I use EDD Members Discount to apply 100% off for my active members.

So, if you are an active member you can download my files for free.

Here is the problem: The active member add the items to the cart, then log in and then he back to the cart and don’t see any discount. The cart asking him to pay.
It causing my members to be so frustrated with the process and causing me answer the same question over and over again.

I need your help. I have this issue for a long time already.

Thank you

Wow.. really it’s a great extension for EDD, i will purchase it ASAP.

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I had to stop using Free Downloads and switch to blog post with optinmonster as it just filled up my list and site with fake emails.

Would be super if Free Downloads supported double optin πŸ™‚

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Not sure what you mean by that. Double optin is a newsletter feature, Free Downloads isn’t a newsletter plugin. We do, however, integrate with many newsletter plugins that DO support double optin… If I’m misunderstanding (which is fairly likely) please elaborate and I’ll try to help out!

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joschen

One change that decreased the amount of fake emails was to change the button label of the modal to “Send Download Link” πŸ‘πŸ‘

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That’s an AWESOME idea! Definitely going to start recommending that to our customers (though we’re looking into adding more security measures on our end too).

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This would be amazing if the free download can be achieved with a download code.

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Jim

Could I make ‘EDD free Downloads’ work with a discount code that offers a free download of one per customer, and is regimented to the email box appearing where the customer must enter their valid email address to obtain the link etc…?

Thanks for any advice…

Jim

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Hey Dan, when using the free download and they input there email address, will the system let them confirm their email and then give out the download still bypassing the Auto Register? Just so the user does not pick some random name gmail just to get the download.

Thanks

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No, Free Downloads doesn’t have any sort of email confirmation system. It was designed to streamline the process while still creating a trackable record of the ‘purchase’. EDD itself doesn’t have any sort of email confirmation to complete purchases, so we didn’t include one either. That said… you could always set it up to require that a user be logged in and require email confirmation on account creation.

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Updated eDD free downloads to 2.1.0. All my “download now” buttons lost their texts and my site is full of blank square buttons.
Any idea on what I can do to solve this ?

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We’re looking into the issue for you and will report back via your support ticket as soon as we have tracked it down.

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Upgrade to 2.1.1 (should be available any second). We found and fixed that bug for you!

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Gonzalo

Looks awesome. I have a question though. Will it work fine with the Conditional Success Redirects add-on?

I use EDD to sell online courses, not downloads. So I use the conditional redirect add-on and also the “Downloads As Services” one.

Thanks a lot!!

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petimi

we are having trouble getting the free download button working on iPad/iPhone.
It seems like it won’t trigger the popup. Could you guys check the blue “Try a FREE version” button here https://vegashero.co

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We’ll be happy to help. Could you please go ahead and open a support ticket so we can assist? https://easydigitaldownloads.com/support

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tonjoo

tried on my mobile phone browser and the download button won’t work. I assume that the plugin hasn’t fixed, eh?

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There was an update just released that resolves a few problems. If you continue to encounter issues, please open a support ticket and we’ll be happy to assist.

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luis

So this just works embedded in buttons throughout the site correct? Or can I also create banners or popups to capture emails and offer my free download?

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It is just for the embedded buttons.

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naser57

will that be possible to email the download to the users using this plug-in instead of instant download? it can be used as a method to validate the emails address of the users.

Thanks

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naser57

I meant email the download link to the user.

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It’s not really designed to do that. You could set it to redirect to a custom page that instructs the user to check their email for the download link, and send an email that includes the download link, but it’d still be immediately downloadable from their purchase history page. Making it do exactly what you’re looking for would require some custom development.

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naser57

Thanks a lot for the reply Dan,

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swissco

Flexible free product links aren’t working in mobile (Chrome or Safari)
The model wont pop up.
Works fine on the actual downloads themselves, but the custom links don’t work.

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Could you please open a support ticket so that we can look into that for you?

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tonjoo

Yes,

on mobile: the pop-up won’t appear so it didn’t work.

On Firefox desktop: after filling email address, nothing happened.

Can you check with your plugin development?

Thanks!

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Kathy Gossen

Can you make it so that free downloads don’t appear in the store? I just want them to be downloadable in a post.

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Kathy, you can easily hide free products using our EDD Hide Download add-on: https://wordpress.org/plugins/edd-hide-download/

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This is looking great. Curious if there is any way to store the emails within my WordPress! I am using Mailster (formerly MyMail) newsletter plugin to store & send emails.

Thanks in advance!

Reply

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