How to buy digital downloads on Etsy

I’ve been selling digital downloads on Etsy for a while now but I’ve only recently run into customers having trouble accessing their downloads. Some sellers have been struggling with this for much longer and even having customers complain they didn’t know they were getting a digital product, so I figured I’d make our lives a lot easier by sharing with you guys how to buy and access your digital downloads on Etsy. Let’s go!

Did you come here hoping to learn how to sell on Etsy? Get my ebook and get started selling your own books on Etsy.

How to buy digital downloads on Etsy

What are digital downloads on Etsy?

A digital download is any product that you get only in digital form. That means you won’t get anything shipped to you.

Most digital downloads you can access instantly, but there are also made-to-order digital downloads that the seller has to “make” before they can send them to you. These are customisable things like wedding invites, for example, though I don’t have any personal experience with these from a buyer’s or a seller’s perspective. Sometimes you might get the option to customise the digital product yourself, in which case there will be instructions in the listing, but either way, you end up with a digital product instead of a physical one.

What kinds of digital products can you sell on Etsy?

Honestly, only the sky’s the limit. You can find digital downloads in any niche, so they have everything from wedding invites to book club games and from crochet patterns to ebooks.

I sell printables, ebooks, digital worksheets and Canva templates for writers, readers and book clubs in my shop Writer Lifestyle, so that’s already quite a few different kinds of digital downloads. I’ve also bought Lightroom presets and PNG graphics myself, so you can find almost anything that you could possibly need.

How do you know something is a digital download and not a physical product?

As long as you can read, it’s pretty easy! When you click through from the search results and look at someone’s listing, it says Digital download right above the description and below the buy buttons. You can also see from there what kind of file types are included.

Because generally digital product sellers on Etsy aren’t there to scam you and they really want to give their customers what they’re actually looking for, they make sure to mention SEVERAL TIMES that this is a digital download. Every respectable seller also tells you which types of files you will be getting and how to access them, so it should be pretty obvious what you’re getting! There’s usually information in the listing images as well, though you can’t read them with a screen reader unless the seller has added the ALT description.

No matter what kinds of products you’re shopping for on Etsy, please do more than just look at the first listing image. If you purchase something by mistake because you didn’t read the description and the instructions, it’s not the seller’s fault. Fortunately, Etsy can usually remove bad reviews that are like “Giving only one star because I thought I was getting a real book”, but it would be so much easier for everyone involved if you just read carefully where you’re putting your money. Please also make sure you know how to use the file types you’ll be getting.

Where can you find your purchases when you buy digital downloads on Etsy?

If you’re on desktop, it’s pretty easy to find your purchases as long as you’re signed into your account. Just click your picture on the upper right corner and choose Purchases and reviews. When I look at my own purchases, I can see a black Download Files button on the right side of my purchase, but this might look different by the time you’re reading this. In any case, that’s where you would find your downloads.

A screenshot from Etsy showing you where to find your Purchases and reviews so you can access your digital downloads.

If you made your purchases as a guest, I don’t actually know what your account looks like on Etsy! But you still got an email receipt from Etsy, which has a link or a button to go download your purchases. If you can’t find anything from transactions@etsy.com, make sure you’re checking the email you actually used when you made your purchase and then check your promotions folder as well as spam. It’s surprisingly common that people don’t know which email they’ve been using.

How to download your Etsy files on mobile

The Etsy app is pretty cool for shopping, but it does have a major flaw: you can’t download your files from there. When you’re on mobile, you can use the link in your Etsy email receipt to download your files or you can go to Etsy on your mobile browser. As in, don’t use the Etsy app, but use your browser to go to Etsy.com and log in to your account. If your phone opens the Etsy app when you click Purchases and reviews, long press the link instead and choose “open in a new tab”. Yes, it’s very annoying having to do that and I’m hoping they’ll change the app soon.

What to do when you didn’t get an email from Etsy?

Again, make sure you used the correct email first. If you’re a Gmail user, check the promotions folder as well, because you don’t get a notification when something goes in there. If it’s not there either, check your spam. You can also use the search function in your email inbox, though I’ve found it doesn’t work that well on the Gmail app.

If you still can’t find your email after you’ve looked everywhere, your next step is to contact Etsy. Not the Etsy seller! Actual Etsy. Although your seller can help you with your product, they can’t help you with any technical issues and they can’t resend emails from Etsy to you. And please don’t ask them to “just send the downloads to my email”. That’s extra work they might not have time for, and in addition, they might not have access to the files at all times. My products live on my computer so I can’t send you anything when I’m on the go.

So put on your big girl pants and contact Etsy. Go to the Etsy Help Centre and see if they’ve already got a solution to your problem in one of their help articles. For example, here’s an article about How to Download a Digital Item. If you didn’t find help there, you can contact Etsy support and have them help you with your problem. They’re going to prompt you to contact the seller, but again, Etsy sellers can’t resend you your emails.

How to use digital products you got on Etsy?

How to use your digital downloads depends on what the product is. More than likely, the item’s listing has instructions on how to use your files and what software you might need for them. I hope you read the listing description beforehand! I also make sure to include a Read Me file with my products to remind you how to use the files and where you bought them from.

There are plenty of printables on Etsy and they’re going to require some work on your part. Most of my writer printables are one-page printables that you just print out and then write on them, but things like printable party supplies might need a bit more assembly. If you purchase something like printable wall art, you have to make sure you have a suitable printer at home or take the files to a printer shop. It’s up to you to use the product properly and follow the instructions.

What if you’re not happy with a digital product you bought on Etsy?

It might sound harsh, but usually when a buyer isn’t happy with what they got on Etsy, it could have been avoided if they had read the listing details properly. The fact that you didn’t like what you received doesn’t matter either if what you received is exactly what you were supposed to get.

Digital products can’t be returned. This is just how it is and Etsy has recently made it even more clear that this is the case. If you contact the seller politely and you’re honest about what happened, they might refund your purchase, but they’re in no way obliged to do that. There’s no way to know you’re not just going to use the digital download anyway since, you know, it can’t be returned.

If your download was somehow different from what the listing says, you can contact the seller and explain the issue. It’s probably just an honest mistake. (Just make sure you read the listing properly, to save everyone’s time.) If you feel like you’ve actually been scammed, you can contact Etsy support. But for the love of everything nice in this world, don’t contact Etsy support because YOU made a mistake and want your money back.

Don’t be an ass when leaving a review on Etsy

This has never happened to me personally, but I’ve seen people leave 1-star reviews just because they didn’t read the description and they didn’t get what they thought they would. Reviews matter a lot to sellers, so leaving a bad review because of your own mistake and without ever even contacting the seller is just plain rude. Fortunately Etsy can remove false and unwarranted reviews, but that’s still extra work that could have been avoided.

This is a personal pet peeve for me, but if there’s nothing wrong with the product and it’s what the listing said it would be, just give five stars. If there’s something wrong with the product to warrant fewer stars, do actually mention that in the review. It’s no use for sellers or buyers to read your “This is a great product, 4/5” review because we’ll never find out why that one star is missing.

Are you looking for a free Etsy download hack?

When I was looking for questions that people have about digital downloads on Etsy, I found out there are people looking for ways to download stuff from Etsy for free. If you’ve ever done this, I have one question for you: When you see a physical product on Etsy that you want, do you also google how to break into the seller’s home so you can steal it?

Not to be all “you wouldn’t steal a car”, but Etsy isn’t Walmart. When you’re looking for ways to get digital products without paying for them, what you’re actually doing is hoping to steal from small businesses. Seriously, what’s wrong with you? Just because you see something cool on the internet, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to have it. There’s plenty of free stuff on the internet if you can’t afford to buy anything.

Do you have more questions about buying digital downloads on Etsy?

If you have questions that I didn’t answer in this post, let me know in the comments. If you’re interested in selling on Etsy, tell me about that too because I’d love to write about it.


Tell us what you think

Skip to content