How to Use cPanel’s File Manager

In this tutorial you will learn the basic functions and features of cPanel’s implemented File Manager. It is very important to learn how to use it since it provides complete management of your website’s files and folders.

What you’ll need

Before you begin this guide you’ll need the following:

  • Access to your hosting account’s cPanel.

Quick links

Step 1 — Finding the File Manager.

Start off by logging into your cPanel and follow these simple steps:

  1. You should be able to see File Manager immediately after opening cPanel. If not, you can use the search function of cPanel, like it is presented in the following screenshot:Search bar
  2. After opening File Manager, you should see this new window pop up:File Manager

In the following steps, we will explain all the features of File Manager which will be marked on the provided screenshots with rectangles and arrows, so keep in mind that, for example, if explanation refers to a certain number, you should check the screenshot to see which rectangle or arrow that number represents.

Step 2 — Navigating in File Manager

File Manager

First of all, you must learn how to navigate properly in File Manager. Marked by No. 5 and 6 are the most important fields for navigation. Take a look at No. 5, here you can see the list of folders only. If you wish to access a certain folder in your File Manager, it is best to simply click on it in that field (No. 5). Notice a small plus icon next to a folder. After clicking on it, sub-folders of that folder will be shown (notice the logs folder, which does not have the plus icon, it means that this folder does not have any sub-folders in it). After clicking on a certain folder in the field No. 5, a field No. 6 will change and show the exact contents of that folder. In this tutorial, we will be doing changes ONLY with the contents of public_html folder. All the remaining folders are mostly system folders required for cPanel and its features to function properly, so all the folders except for public_html should remain untouched. Basically, you must use the list on the left (No. 5) to navigate between folders and list on the right (No. 6) to manage the files. You can navigate between folders by clicking twice on the folder in the right field as well, but that is not as convenient.

File Manager

In field No. 3, you can write a full path to a certain folder and it will be immediately displayed for you after clicking Go.

File Manager

Another important field, related to navigation, is No. 7. Here is a list of functions in this field:

  • Home – Immediately shows the main Home folder.
  • Up One Level – Goes up exactly one level in the folder hierarchy. For example, if you were navigating public_html folder, you can click this to go back to the home folder, which is one level up the public_html folder.
  • Back/Forward – Works as back/forward navigator in any internet browser. You can go back to the previous page that you were before coming to the current one or go forward to the page that you were before clicking on the Back button.
  • Reload – Basically refreshes the page to show any changes made.
  • Select All – Selects all the files and folders in the field No. 6.
  • Unselect All – Unselects all the files and folders in the field No. 6.
  • View Trash – Shows the Trash folder. All deleted files go there.
  • Empty Trash – Clears the Trash folder. Available only when viewing the Trash folder.File Manager

The last field related to navigation which is worth mentioning is the Search field marked with No. 2. In the drop-down menu, you can select to either search between All Your Files or inside a certain folder (current directory or public_html are the remaining options). Next to the drop-down menu, you have to write a keyword that you are searching for and after clicking Go, the search results will be displayed for you with all the required information about where that file is located (double click on the file in the search result field to immediately go to that location).

Step 3 — Using file management features

File Manager

We will go through all the features seen in the field No. 1. Before that, I would like to mention that most of these features are also accessible by clicking right mouse button on a specific file or folder.


Creates a new file in the currently selected folder. After clicking, this window appears:

File Manager

Here you can write a New File Name (we have chosen to create an index.php file) and write a path to where you would like this file to be created in (therefore, I recommend selecting the destination folder before creating the new file). After clicking on Create New File, it will appear in the folder you selected:

File Manager


Works exactly the same as File function, in this tutorial we have chosen to create a TestFolder:

File Manager

File Manager


Copies the selected file. In the window that pops up, you can write a destination where you wish that file to be copied to, we have chosen to copy our newly created file index.php to the newly created folder TestFolder:

File Manager

File Manager


Works exactly the same as Copy function, the difference is that the file is removed from the initial location it was moved from.


The Main feature used for uploading files to your File Manager. Choose the folder to where you wish the files to be uploaded beforehand and after clicking Upload, select the files from your computer that you wish to upload:

File Manager

After selecting the file, it will be automatically uploaded and a new confirmation message will appear:

File Manager

Click on the Go Back… button to head back to the folder you were in before. The newly uploaded file will appear in the folder you uploaded it to:

File Manager


Downloads the selected file to your computer:

File Manager

File Manager


Removes the selected file (moves it into the Trash folder by default, this can be avoided by marking the Skip the trash and permanently delete the files checkbox):

File Manager

File Manager


Restores the “removed” file from the Trash folder. In order to use it, you must be in the Trash folder:

File Manager

Click on the file that you wish to restore and the Restore button will become active:

File Manager

Restored file will appear back in the folder it was removed from:

File Manager

Edit/Code Editor/HTML Editor

All these features are designed to edit your files. We will not go into detail on how to use them in this tutorial, but you can play around with them to see which one suits you best.


Used to edit your file permissions. IMPORTANT! We recommend not to do anything with this unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing because setting the wrong permissions to the files might cause issues with your website. Here I chose to edit my index.php file. After doing the changes, you can save them by clicking on Change Permissions:

File Manager


Simply views the file (for example, opens up a picture) or its contents (in case it is a text/code file).


Used to compress a chosen file or folder into an archive and later extract it if needed. All of that is done locally in the File Manager. Simply select the file that you wish to compress and click on Compress. A new window will pop up where you need to select the compression settings as well as the name of the compressed archive:

File Manager

Compressed file will appear in the chosen folder, here you can extract it as well:

File Manager

Confirm the extraction by clicking on the Extract File(s) button:

File Manager


The final feature is the Settings feature marked with the No. 4:

File Manager

After clicking on it, a new window will pop up:

File Manager

Here marked with the rectangle, you can choose a default folder to open as soon as you open File Manager (I would like to specify that Document Root option allows you to choose one of the cPanel account’s domains to be opened, for example, you can choose to open one of the Add-On domains).

Show Hidden Files (dotfiles)

This will allow you to see hidden files between your normal files (we recommend this option if you wish to edit, for example, your .htaccess file). After choosing this option, the file will become visible in our public_html folder:

File Manager

Disable Character Encoding Verification Dialogs

When you edit a file with Edit, Code Editor, or HTML Editor, a window will pop up to confirm the file’s character encoding. This option disables that window.


In this tutorial, you have learned how to properly manage your files and folders using cPanel’s File Manager software. We hope that this tutorial helped you understand the basics and usage of it. We wish you best of luck!

About the author

Tautvydas V.

Tautvydas started his career as a technical support agent and now walks the path of full-stack development. He strives to produce top-notch features, improvements, and outstanding user experience with every line of code. In his free time, Tautvydas likes to travel and play old school video games.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get Exclusive Content

Join thousands of webmasters who get our free newsletter with tips on how to drive more traffic and revenue to their websites!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

More in cPanel
How to Add a Redirect for Your Website