In this article, I’m gonna show you how you can install a WordPress plugin on your site. But before this, you should know that what is plugins and why it is used.
What are plugins?
WordPress is an extensively used Content Management Script (CMS). At core, its main function is content publishing and user management. WordPress plugins are PHP script that adds or enhances the functionality to your WordPress site. So knowing how you can do this will enhance your site’s capability.
In simple words, WordPress CMS is like an Operating System of your website, and a plugin is an additional software that is added to WordPress to add or improve its features.
As of today, there are 55,881 plugins in the WordPress repository. Think of anything you need on your WordPress site and there is a WordPress Plugin for it. Plugins make your website looks awesome. You should really consider adding plugins.
Requirements for installing a Plugin
Before we began, you should check all the requirements for installing a plugin.
- Make sure you are the administrator of your site. You won’t see the plugins section if you don’t have admin right on your site.
- You must have a self-hosted WordPress site instead of WordPress.com. If your site is on WordPress.com, then you won’t have the same capabilities that you have on a self-hosted website, and one of the option is installing a plugin.
Most of the time, people comes up with this question that they are not able to see Add New Plugin Options. So make sure you have checked all the requirements of installing a plugin. It will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Since, we are all set with the prerequisite. So let’s get started with our plugin installation tutorial:-
How to Install a WordPress Plugin
Installing a WordPress plugin can be done in three different ways. Mostly used and the easiest way is to install a plugin is using the “Search Plugin” option in WordPress dashboard. The next option that we will be discussing is “Upload Plugin” from the WordPress dashboard. And third, we will be discussing to “Upload Plugin using FTP”.
So, let’s get started with our first method.
1. Install a Plugin using “Search Plugin” in WordPress Dashboard
Installing Plugin using “Search Plugin” method is the fastest and easiest method to install a WordPress plugin. The only downside is that it only searches plugins from WordPress repository.
To install a plugin, the first step is to log-in to your Admin Dashboard. Once you log-in to the dashboard. It will look like this.
On the left side admin menu, Hover on Plugins Option, then it will show its sub-menu “Add New”. Click on Add New.
If you click on Installed Plugins options, you can see the list of already installed plugin. In this case, I don’t have any plugin installed in my WordPress. Here also, you have an option of Add New. Use either of the Add New options, they both performs the same action.
After you click on Add New. It will open this window. Here you can see Featured plugins are showing. Also, there are multiple suggestions like Popular, Recommended & Favorites. You can click there to browse plugins or you can type the name of plugin you want to install.
For example, I want contact from plugin to install on my WordPress. So I enter the keywords “contact form”. It will give me suggestions of plugins related to these keywords. For the tutorial purpose of this article, I’m installing “Contact Form 7“. So to install this plugin, click on Install Now button right next to it.
Once you click on Install now, you can see that plugin is starting installing on your WordPress.
Once installed, it will show an option called Activate. Click on Activate button to start using this plugin.
Once you Activate a plugin, it will show the notification that “Plugin activated”. Also, you can check the Plugin dashboard for the installed plugin. Once you install a plugin, it will import all the PHP files of that plugin in your wp-content/plugins folder. But in order to use the features of that plugin, you have to activate it.
2. Install a Plugin using “Upload Plugin” in WordPress Dashboard
Another method to install a plugin is to upload the plugin files using WordPress dashboard. This option is useful when you:
- found a plugin that is not available on WordPress repository.
- have made some changes in plugins files.
- purchased a premium plugin.
In these cases, you have to upload plugin files. Let’s check the below steps to learn how to install using the “Upload” option.
For example, I found this plugin and want to install it on my WordPress site. So I’ll download this file. Note: The file that you download should be from a trusted site/developer. There are some hackers, who upload nulled script that contains viruses and malware.
Once you have your plugin file. Open the WordPress dashboard. And on the left sidebar of admin, click on Plugin –> Add New.
On this page, you will find a button called “Upload Plugin“. Click on it.
Then it will ask you to Choose File from your computer to upload. Note: WordPress only accepts .zip format.
Select the WordPress file from your computer.
After you have selected the file. Click on Install Now. It will start installing the plugin file.
Once installation is completed. It will ask you to Activate Plugin. Click Activate to start using the plugin.
It will redirect you to Plugin Dashboard. Here you can see that Plugin is installed and showing on the list.
3. Manually Install a WordPress Plugin using FTP
The last option that you can use to install a plugin is through FTP. In order to use this option, you must have the following things with you:
- Plugin file that you want to install.
- FTP Software like FileZilla, CyberDuck, etc.
- FTP Login Details which include Hostname, FTP Username, FTP Password, and Port. If you don’t have these details, ask for your hosting provider. They will provide you the login details. Also, you can check your email, they must have shared it with you at the time you registered with them. Another way to find out FTP details if from your hosting account dashboard like cPanel.
First step is to log-in to your FTP account. Fill the details: Host, Username, Password & Port. Then click on Quickconnect.
Once the connection is established. On the Remote site, check for public_html folder and open it.
Inside public_html, you will find wp-content folder. Open this folder.
Open the plugins folder. This is the default folder where all the plugins are installed in WordPress.
Now navigate to the plugin files on Local site. Once you are there, Right-click on that folder and click on Upload. Then it will start uploading the files from your computer to your website. Wait until all files are uploaded.
Once all files are uploaded to the website server. Open the WordPress dashboard. And on the left sidebar of admin, click on Plugin –> Installed Plugins.
In the plugin dashboard, you’ll see a new plugin that I just uploaded using FTP. This plugin is installed in WordPress but to use it, I have to click on Activate.
Popular questions after installing WordPress Plugin
Congratulation!!! You have learned to install WordPress plugins. While searching for multiple forums about WordPress plugins. I found there are some common issues that people have related to plugins. Maybe you also have the same question. So, let’s take a look at these questions:
Difference Between Install Plugin and Activate Plugin?
Once you have installed a plugin using any of the three methods, it will appear in Installed Plugins section. So, whenever plugin files are uploaded on your hosting server it is called Installed Plugin.
In order to use the plugin features, you have to activate it. You can find this activate button right next to the plugin name.
Installing a paid plugin? Upload only .zip file
When you purchase a plugin from a developer. They provide you a package file which contains:
- Installable WordPress file
- License certificate and purchase code (PDF)
- License certificate and purchase code (text), etc.
But WordPress only accepts .zip format. So if you have the option to download an Installable file then do so. And if not then open the package and search for plugin files in it. If the file is in .zip format, you can upload that file. If not in .zip format then you can change these files in .zip format and use method-2 to install the plugin. Or you can use method-3 (using FTP) to install the plugin.
What is Plugin Updates? Do I need to update all the plugins?
Sometimes you see this notification in your WordPress Admin Dashboard. “There is a new version of plugin is available. Ignore or click to update.” This option appears when the plugin developer/creator has made some changes in PHP script of the plugin. These changes can be anything, like, addition of new feature, applying a security patch, etc. You can check the details of new version in “Changelog”. I highly recommend you to update your plugin to the latest version.
You can see in the below example that New version of the plugin is available. You can click on View Details link to check all the details that are updated in this new version. Or click on Update Now to update the plugin to the new version.
When you click on View Details/ChangeLog. It will show details of all the changes that are implemented in the new version.
How can I trust a plugin that it does not contain Virus?
WordPress repository always verify the plugin for any malware before any developer upload it. But still there are people who hack and upload malware in script. There are plugins available on internet other than WordPress repository. These plugins most of the time contains spam and malware code in it. So before uploading them on your website, make sure to check it on virustotal.com. It will scan for any suspicious code in it and share the detailed report with you.
Plugin showing not Compatible. Can I still install it?
With time, WordPress updates its core files, to add new features or secure its existing files. But the plugin developer has not edited that plugin’s PHP script to be compatible with WordPress files. So this might occur that, the plugin that you installed might not work. So, always check the compatibility of plugin with the corresponding WordPress version.
Yes, you can still install an untested plugin. But before doing this, always backup your data.
Also, there are some plugins that does not work simultaneously. So, if your website showing an issue after you have installed a plugin. Check on Google.com for the issue or create a support request on the plugin Support Forum.
How to Uninstall a Plugin?
The plugin that you have installed does not meet your requirements. Or there might be some other issue which makes you feel that you do not need that plugin anymore. And you want to uninstall that from your site. So removing plugin can be done in two different methods. First is removing from WordPress admin dashboard and second is removing manually using FTP.
Uninstallation using WordPress Dashboard:
Log-in to your WordPress dashboard. Then go to Plugin –> Installed Plugins
Here you will see all the plugins of your website. To uninstall a plugin, first, you have to “Deactivate” the plugin. Then you can see the “Delete” option. Click delete to remove plugin files from your server.
To manually uninstall a plugin, you need to login to your hosting server using FTP. After you are connected, navigate to public_html –> wp-content –> plugins. Here locate the folder of plugin that you want to uninstall. Note: Sometimes the folder name will not match the plugin completely, but it should be recognizable. Right-click on folder and delete it.
To confirm the deletion, login to your WordPress dashboard. Review the list of plugins to confirm the deletion of the plugin.
Should I delete inactive plugins
I and almost all the other WordPress developers recommend deleting inactive plugins. It is because of these reasons:
- First: The main reason is that these are PHP files. Even though you are not using them, but they are still on your website. In case of a hacking attempt, these files can get infected and used to upload malware to your site.
- Second: Inactive plugins also show update notification to you. And sometimes it feels so irritating.
- Third: It is possible that you are using a limited hosting plan. Keeping files unwanted on your server is waste. It is better to delete them
How many plugins I can install in WordPress?
There is no limit on number of plugins that can be installed. You can install any number of plugins as you want. Plugins provide more functionality to your website. So, if you need it, you should install it. But always use plugins from trusted developers. And check plugin review before installing it. Because the plugin that is going to install may cause issue or break your site.
Do Plugins slowdown my site?
When someone requests a webpage to open on your site. Then WordPress will start to load all the PHP script on that particular page. If you have too many plugins installed, then it will take more time to load all of them. So, always use only necessary plugins. If there is less PHP script to load then it will definitely speed up your site.
You can check these tools: PageSpeed Insights, GTMatrix, Pingdom Tools to check your page load time. So whenever you have doubts about a plugin that it is slowing down your site. Go ahead and take a test and compare the results before activating and after activating the plugin.
What is a Plugin Favorite option?
WordPress repository has a feature called Plugin Favorites. It is like a bookmark option for plugins. While viewing a plugin’s page on WordPress.com, click the heart icon next to the Download button to mark it as your favorite. This is useful when you are browsing plugins. And there are multiple plugins available on WordPress with the same function. So mark them as favorite and at the end compare them before finalizing for your website. This way you don’t have to install each plugin every time. Also, when you install a plugin, it creates a table in your database. And after deleting, the table still remains there. So if you follow this procedure, it will keep your database clean.
This option can be found on Right next to the Download button. But this option will only be available if you are logged in on WordPress.org.
Once you selected the plugin and marked it as Favorite. Open the WordPress plugin dashboard. Click on Add New. Here you can see a Favorite option. It will ask to enter your username to show your favorite plugins.
By finishing this tutorial, you have learned a lot about WordPress plugins. This will definitely be beneficial to your site. WordPress theme can also be installed using the same three methods. In case you find any issue with any plugin or any other WordPress related issue, let me know in the comment section, I’ll definitely help you with it.
I hope this tutorial helped you learn to install WordPress plugins and other questions related to plugins. My favorite method to install a plugin is using “Search Plugin” in the dashboard. Let me know in the comments which method you liked the most.