How to Install WordPress Plugins

Plugins allow you to drastically expand the functionality of your WordPress site by adding in useful features that don’t come standard with a bare-bones installation of WordPress. Installing a WordPress plugin is a relatively easy task and it is essential to know know this if you are looking to start your own WordPress website. There are 3 ways you can go about installing a WordPress Plugin on your website.

Using the Search Option in the WordPress Admin Panel
Using the Upload Method in the WordPress Admin Panel
Install a WordPress Plugin Using FTP

Using the Search Option in the WordPress Admin Panel

This is the easiest way to install a plugin. However, you are limited to the plugins you can choose from because you can only search plugins that are in the WordPress Plugin Directory. All plugins here are free and are required to meet WordPress guidelines, but don’t let that turn you away from this method. There are thousands of useful plugins you can find in the WordPress directory. If you’re new to WordPress and are interested in some really great plugins, you can hop over to our Must Have WordPress Plugins list to check out some of our favorites.

First, you need to log into the admin panel of your WordPress site. Then, hover over Plugins and click ‘Add New.’ Now you should see a list of featured plugins as well as a search bar in the top right. Go ahead and type in the name of the plugin you are searching for, or a keyword like ‘forms’ or ‘slider’ if you don’t have a particular plugin in mind.

Searching WordPress Plugins

Now you’ll see a list of plugins related to your search. Be sure to take note of the plugin ratings and the last time the plugin was updated. If the plugin hasn’t been updated in awhile, the developer may no longer support it and you could run into issues later on as WordPress keeps updating if the developer doesn’t ensure compatibility.

Choose the plugin you want to try out and click the ‘Install Now’ Button. This will automatically start the installation process, and you should see something like this:

Installing WordPress Plugin

The final step is to make sure you select ‘Activate Plugin’ and you’re done. You’ve successfully installed your first plugin!

Manually Installing a Plugin Using the Upload Method

There are a lot of really usefully premium plugins out there that can greatly enhance the functionality of your website. These aren’t listing in the WordPress Directory. You’ll have to go to the developer’s website, and manually download the plugin. But don’t worry! That’s really the most difficult part.

Again, make sure you log into the admin panel of WordPress site, hover over plugins and click ‘Add New.’ This time, instead of searching for a plugin, click the ‘Upload Plugin’ button on the top left of the page. You should see something like this:

Upload WordPress Plugin

Click ‘Choose File’ and you will have to find the .zip file you downloaded from the plugin developer on your computer and select it. Click ‘Install Now,’ and the installation process will automatically begin.

Installing WordPress Plugin

You will see the installation process take place. Don’t forget to click ‘Activate Plugin’ to complete the installation. You did it! You manually installed your first plugin!

Install a WordPress plugin using FTP

If you’re coming here to learn how to install a WordPress plugin for the first time this method probably isn’t for you. It’s quite a bit more technical, but we wanted to go over it nonetheless to make sure we cover all the ways you can install a WordPress Plugin.

First you’ll need to download a FTP manager. WinSCP is a great option for Windows and FileZilla is a good option for Macs. However, there a lot of other FTP managers you can find that work great as well.

You’ll need the credentials to access your host through the FTP manager. Once you’re logged in, you’ll find something similar to this:

FTP Install of WordPress Plugins

The left panel is the file structure of your computer. Find the folder that has the .zip file of the plugin you downloaded. The right panel is the file structure of your website. Navigate to /wp-content/plugins/ and drag the .zip file into this folder. Your plugin is now installed.

You still need to activate the plugin. The only way to do this is to login to your WordPress admin panel and click on ‘Plugins.’ You should see the plugin you just installed listed here. Click ‘Activate’ to complete the installation process.

Activating WordPress Plugin after FTP



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