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How to Use the cPanel File Manager

Uploading and managing website files is a job traditionally done via FTP. Or for the more adventurous, via the command line on the server. But even if you manage your files using FTP, there are times when you are away from your computer. For those occasions, it’s good to know that there is a File Manager built into cPanel.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to do most of the common website file-related tasks using the cPanel File Manager. We will cover a lot of ground, so if you’re in a hurry and need to skip ahead, here are shortcuts to instructions for the cPanel File Manager functions covered in this article:

Locating the cPanel File Manager

Log in to cPanel.

In the “FILES” section, click the “File Manager” link or icon.

locating the cPanel file manager

When you log in to the File Manager, you will be in the root directory for your account. Most of the time, you’ll be working with website files, and they are located in the “public_html” directory.

site files are located in the "public_html" directory

If you have addon domains in your account, their home directories will be typically be listed inside the public_html directory.

addon domains are located in the "public_html" directory

Working With Hidden or “Dot” Files

By default, the cPanel File Editor does not display hidden “dot” files. So to work with files such as .htaccess, you must first configure the cPanel File Editor to display hidden files.

In the File Manager, click the “Settings” button.

working with hidden or "dot" files

In the “Preferences popup window, check “Show Hidden Files” and click the “Save” button.

check “Show Hidden Files” and click the “Save” button

Creating a New File Using the cPanel File Manager

Click the “+ File” link or icon at the top of the page.

click the "+ File" link or icon

Enter the name of the new file in the “New File Name” field in the pop-up box and click the “Create New File” button.

click the "Create New File" button

Uploading a File Using the cPanel File Manager

In the left side directory list, click the directory to which you would like to upload files. The directory contents will be displayed on the right side.

click the directory to which you would like to upload files

Click the “Upload” link or icon in the top toolbar.

click "Upload" link or icon

A new browser tab or window will open for file upload. Drag and drop the file to be uploaded, or click the “Select File” button.

click the “Select File” button.

Your host may have a file size limit. If so, it will be shown on the file upload page. To upload larger files, use FTP.

If you are replacing an existing file, check the “Overwrite existing files” box. If you don’t check the box, you will get a pop-up asking if you want to overwrite the existing file.

check the "Overwrite existing files" box

Moving a File Using the cPanel File Manager

There are two ways to move a file using the cPanel File Manager.

The first and easiest option is dragging and dropping the file. Left click and hold on the file name on the right, and drag it to the new directory on the left.

left click and hold on the file name on the right, and drag it to the new directory on the left

Alternately you can use the “Move” button. You have to know the path to the location where you want to move the file to use this method.

Select the file you want to move and click the “Move” button.

select the file you want to move and click the “Move” button

Enter the path to the location where you’re moving the file and click the “Move File(s)” button.

click the “Move File(s)” button

Editing a File Using the cPanel File Manager

On the right side, select the file you want to edit.

Right-click the file name to open the menu, or click the “Edit” or “HTML Editor” link or icon in the top toolbar.

right click the file name to open the menu

Selecting “Edit” opens the file in a window similar to a text editor.

selecting "Edit" opens the file in a window similar to a text editor

Selecting “HTML Editor” opens the file in a visual editing window.

selecting "HTML Editor" opens the file in a visual editing window

Before you get to the file editor, a file encoding popup will open. If your website uses English and standard characters, click the “Edit” button. If your site uses another language that does not use UTF-8 encoding, select the appropriate encoding, and click the “Edit” button.

You can prevent the popup from opening every time you edit a file by clicking the “Disable Encoding Check” button.

click the "Disable Encoding Check" button

To save your file in the text editor, click the “Save Changes” button.

click the "Save Changes" button

To save your file in the visual editor, click the “Save” button.

click the "Save" button

Deleting a File Using the cPanel File Manager

Right click on the name of the file you wish to delete, and click the “Delete” link.

right click on the name of the file you wish to delete, and click the "Delete" link

Alternately, you can select the file and click the “Delete” link in the top toolbar.

select the file and click the "Delete" link

That’s It

We have gone through most of the file moving and editing that is necessary on a day-to-day basis. I hope you find this tutorial helpful next time you need to log in and move some files around but you don’t have an FTP connection at hand.

Do you regularly use a web-based file editor? Now that you know how easy it is, do you think you may take advantage of the cPanel File Manager in the future?

Author: Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips is a web hosting industry veteran, helping people make the most of their web presence since 1995.

Updated on June 12, 2019

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