I have created a download link for my plugin using add_submenu_page. When the link is clicked it gathers some files into a zip, then outputs the contents to the browser like so:

header('Content-Type: application/zip');
header('Content-Length: ' . filesize($file));
header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="file.zip"');

The issue is that wordpress by default wraps everything in it's admin theme. Is there a flag or something I can set to tell wordpress that for this particular page I don't want it to out the admin interface?

Edit: Here is the code I used to generate the submenu page:

  add_action('admin_menu', array($this, 'add_download_page'));

  function add_download_page() {
      , 'Download Newsletter' 
      , 'Download Newsletter'
      , 'manage_options'
      , 'spn_download'
      , array($this, 'do_download')
  • Show the code you are using to create this submenu page.
    – brasofilo
    Jan 17, 2013 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


I think you'll have to hook an earlier action and check if your subpage is being loaded, when the function to render the subpage happens it's too late to send headers. Your subpage's rendering function could just be blank because the earlier action would override it. I tried this with a subpage of themes.php and it seemed like it would work:

function wpa82041_do_download(){
    global $pagenow;
    if( 'themes.php' == $pagenow
    && 'spn_download' == $_GET['page'] ){
        // do your download stuff

add_action( 'admin_init', 'wpa82041_do_download' );
  • Wow, very clever, that did exactly what I needed. Thanks. Jan 17, 2013 at 22:23
  • 1
    Great solution. I used this to generate an XLSX file, then send it using PHP's readfile() function. Don't forget to call exit(0) right after. Otherwise wordpress will produce HTML content which gets appended to the download - this results in an unreadable/corrupt file.
    – jdhildeb
    Jan 18, 2017 at 16:46

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