How to install plugins in WordPress

WordPress plugins can quickly extend your site and make it a better place both for you and the visitors. While it is technically possible to have a WordPress site without even one active plugin, the chances are that admins will need at least a few of them to even a start a blog. With time, the need for plugins will keep on increasing. That’s why as a new blogger, you just have to know how to install WordPress plugins.

Just like with everything else, WordPress developers were keen on creating a user-friendly environment. So even if the installation of plugins might sound terrifying to someone who meets WordPress for the first time, let us take your fears away. Today, we will show you two beginner-friendly methods of installing plugins, and one a little bit more advanced.

Before installing a plugin, you should know that only self-hosted version of WordPress allows installation of new extensions. If you don’t have options for installing new plugins, you are probably using WordPress.com, or you don’t have the right user privileges. Please see the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com if you’re not sure which one you have or should use.

To install plugins from the official WordPress directory, you don’t have to wander away from the dashboard. The developers were kind enough to introduce a search box that lets you browse through all the plugins available in the repository. Here you can also read a few more details about each plugin, and of course, install it directly from the list.

On the left side admin panel, go to Plugins -> Add New

How to search for WordPress plugins

If you take a look at the top of the page, you will find several tabs that let you switch the list of available plugins:

  • Featured – a few plugins recommended by WordPress. On the bottom of the page, you can search plugins by tags
  • Most popular – The entire list of plugins, sorted by popularity (there are more than 40,000 plugins)
  • Recommended – suggested plugins based on other plugins you might already have installed
  • Favorite plugins – if you marked plugins as favorite on WordPress.org, they will appear in this tab
  • Search – type in the keyword and find plugins that match the criteria

Install a plugin

By using any of the tabs and functions, you will end up having the list of matching plugins available for installation. For example, let’s search for the free Under Construction Page plugin that can create a beautiful maintenance page for your visitors. If you click on the name of the plugin or follow the “more details” link, WordPress will open a popup window with some additional information about this extension.

Similarly, you can see its developer, rating, the number of active installs (people who are currently running the plugin on their sites), time of the last update and the compatibility info.

  1. Go to Plugins -> Add New
  2. Find a plugin from the list or search for one
  3. View more details about it before you decide to install the plugin
  4. Click on the “Install button”
  5. Wait for a few seconds until the orange icons stops spinning
  6. Click on “Active” button

Install a WordPress plugin

Once the plugin finishes the installation process, you should see the confirmation message within the same button. After that, the button will change the label into “Activate”. Although you have successfully installed your first plugin, it still doesn’t run. If you want to get all the extra functionality it provides, you should click on the “Activate” button.

Once you activate the plugin, wait for a few seconds. When done, WordPress will redirect you to the list of all active plugins. From here, you can control all plugins you have on the site, deactivate them, update, go to settings and even edit their code.

The plugin is now installed and activated. To start using a plugin, you should navigate to its settings to set it up. Since every plugin works differently, we’re not able to tell you where settings will appear. But if you followed our example and installed Under Construction Page, you should go to Settings -> UnderConstruction to start working with the plugin.

Upload a plugin through WordPress admin

Other free plugins that can be found on the web, as well as the premium (paid) plugins, are not listed in the directory. So, that means that you can’t find them by using the first method. To install plugins outside the official directory, you will have to upload them manually.

Upload WordPress plugin directly

All WordPress plugins should come in a ZIP format, and you should keep them archived.

  1. Go to Plugins -> Add New
  2. On top of the page, click “Upload Plugin” button
  3. If you have a plugin in a .zip format, click  on “Choose File” button
  4. Select the ZIP file from your computer
  5. Click “Install Now” button
  6. Wait for a few seconds for WordPress to complete the installation

Install a plugin via FTP upload

For a little bit more advanced users who know how to work with File Transfer Protocol, WordPress allow plugins to be installed via the third method. It requires you to upload files to the server manually, and then activate the plugin through the admin panel.

Upload WordPress plugins via FTP

  1. Download and install free FileZilla or any other FTP client
  2. Open the application, and connect to your FTP server
  3. Navigate to WordPress folder (usually found in “www” or “public_html” folder)
  4. Open wp-content/plugins folder
  5. Unzip your new plugin there (you should end up having one new folder named after the plugin)
  6. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard
  7. Go to Plugins -> Installed Plugins
  8. Find the new item on the list
  9. Click the “Activate” button

Conclusion

Similarly to the installation of themes in WordPress, plugins can be installed by using three different methods. While the first two are very beginner-friendly and allow everyone to quickly install any plugin of their choice, the third one will require some basic knowledge of FTP.

But no matter the technique you used to install a plugin, you should have it on the list of all installed plugins where you can manually activate or deactivate each one.

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