ExpressionEngine Docs

File Manager

Control Panel Location: Files

If you are looking for information on using files in your entries and templates, reference the File module and File fieldtype documentation.

The File Manager allows you to view all of your previously uploaded files. Files can be filtered and searched by a number of criteria. The data included in the displayed list can be customized. The files can also be manipulated separately or in bulk.

Control Panel File Manager Page

Navigating File Manager

The File Manager is composed of several sections to help easily manage your files in ExpressionEngine.


The sidebar gives you access to creating, viewing, and managing Upload Directories; Watermarks; and Exporting All Files.

File manager sidebar

The sidebar can also be collapsed using the arrow icon ( cp collapase arrow ) that is displayed to the side of the sidebar when hovering over the sidebar.


Filters allow you to quickly filter the files listed to find exactly what you need.

Control Panel File Manager Page

The following selectable filters are available:

Clear selectable filters by clicking on the x in the top right corner of the filter.

Files can also be filtered using the keyword search option.

File Listing

The bulk of the File Manager screen is composed of the file list.

File Manager Listing

The File Listing is where your files are displayed based on your current view options. When using the All Files link, all files uploaded to your site will be displayed. When selecting a single Upload Directory from the sidebar, only files uploaded to that Upload Directory will be displayed.

View Options

The File Manager offers multiple view options, and allows you to adjust the files and the related data to be displayed in the file list.

View options can be set per Upload Directory as well as on the All Files view, and are automatically saved for each user and persists as you use the filters or pagination.

List View

File Manager List view

The List View also exposes a Utility Action menu which quickly allows for action to be taken on an individual file without having to leave the file listing page. For more on these options see the available file actions below which are available in the Utility Action menu and as bulk actions.

File Manager Utility Action Menu

The columns displayed in the List View can also be adjusted to display file information relevant to your needs. These columns include:

Grid View

File Manager Grid View

The Grid View gives you the ability to easily see thumbnails of images or icons of each file uploaded.


Available from the Sort By dropdown, both the List View and the Grid View can be sorted by Title and Date Added ordered by ascending and descending. The default view is sorted by Date Added, descending.

File Manager Sorting

Display Limit

The Display Limit dropdown allows you to limit the number of files displayed on a single page in the File Listing. Files can be displayed using a custom limit or by using one of the available options.

Uploading Files

There are 3 way to upload a file using the File Manager:

You can select and upload multiple files using each of these methods.

Do not navigate away or close the browser tab while the files are being uploaded.

File actions

The following are available as individual actions on each file in the table view. In thumb view, only bulk actions are available.

These actions can be accessed by clicking the ... on the right side of the table for each file.

The available actions are: [TOC=3]


Redirects to File edit page


Downloads the original file.

Copy Link

Copies the web link to the file.


Opens a dialog that enables you to move the file to a different Upload Directory or into another folder in the same Upload Directory. If a file you are moving is in use, it will display a notification, as well as a link to view where a given file is in use, and require the confirmation toggle to be switched on to move.

Move File Dialog

This option is only available when viewing a specific Upload Directory.


Opens the dialog that confirms file deletion. If the file is currently in use, it will be noted, and you will be required to switch the confirmation toggle to on.

Delete File Dialog

Bulk actions

When checkboxes for one or several files are selected, the Bulk Actions dropdown becomes available at the bottom of the page. Bulk actions are not available for folders.

File Manager Bulk Actions

The list of bulk actions is the same that for individual file actions, but some items behave differently. The Edit and Copy Link options are only available if a single file is selected. The Download option will download the zip archive of files, even if only one file is selected.

Exporting Files

The files can be exported and downloaded as zip archive in two ways.

One is by using Bulk Actions and allows you to export the specific files needed.

Another is by using “Export all files” link in the sidebar. This link will export and download all files from all upload directories.

Note that exporting can be time and resource consuming.

Compatibility Mode

Note: Compatibility Mode is enabled by default for sites upgraded from older ExpressionEngine versions.

Tip: How to Turn off File Manager Compatibility Mode

ExpressionEngine 7+ stores files in the database differently then previous versions (using {file:XX:url} format instead of {filedir_X}filename.ext). This enables ExpressionEngine to provide a more powerful overall experience with files, such as storing files in subfolders, moving files to different locations, and collecting file usage data.

ExpressionEngine will still parse the {filedir_X} tags in templates or channel entries. However, third-party add-ons that parse file data on their own may not be compatible with the {file:XX:url} syntax, causing issues. In order to prevent a bad user experience, users can enable Compatibility Mode for the sites that are upgraded from earlier versions. If you know all installed add-ons are compatible with the new file format, you can run the Update File Usage (found in Tools-> Utilities-> Update File Usage) and then disable Compatibility Mode from the Content & Design settings.