Learning how to install WordPress plugins is essential if you are running a WordPress website. WordPress plugins are the core of expanding WordPress and adding new features to your website to increase its functionality and usability.
After installing WordPress on your server, you will only have a core system setup. This system comes with basic functionality such as the ability to create new blog posts and pages. In order to add additional functionality to WordPress, like a contact form, a newsletter system, social sharing functionality, analytics, etc you need to install extra plugins on your WordPress website.
WordPress offers 3 different ways to install plugins, and in this guide I will show you step-by-step exactly how to install WordPress plugins using each of the 3 installation methods.
How to install WordPress plugins
WordPress plugins can offer your website a lot of extra functionality. You can set up a contact form, place adverts on your website, add an affiliate program to your website, convert your website into a list building machine and much more. This is why it’s so important to learn how to install WordPress plugins.
WordPress plugin installation methods
As I mentioned before, WordPress offers 3 different installation methods to install new plugins on a WordPress website. Each installation method is different from the other, and the one you prefer will defer based on what you are comfortable with. I suggest you test out all 3 versions of installation methods in order to decide which method you prefer.
The 3 installation methods to install plugins on a WordPress website include:
- On-site installation
- Manual plugin upload
- FTP upload
Each of these installation methods have their own advantages, but in the end they all do the same job installs a plugin on your WordPress website.
The first installation method I’m going to cover in this guide is the easiest way to install WordPress plugins. With this method, you will search for a plugin and install the plugin directly within your WordPress admin area no need to download or upload anything. This method can be used to install free plugins listed on the WordPress plugin repository only.
The first step is to log into your WordPress websites admin area. Once logged in, simply navigate to Plugins >> Add New.
Plugins >> Add new
This is the internal plugin installation page where you can search for plugins listed on the WordPress plugin repository, and install them directly onto your WordPress website without having to manually download and upload the plugin package. This is a very easy way to install new plugins on your WordPress website, and I usually prefer this method if I want to install a free WordPress plugin.
If you want to browse around and see what plugins are the most popular among other WordPress users, you can navigate between the Featured, Popular and Recommended tabs. If you want to install a specific plugin, you should use the Search Plugins box to search for a plugin you want to install.
Once you find a plugin you want to install, simply click on the Install Now button next to the plugins name. You can also click on the plugins name to learn more about the specific plugin.
After clicking the Install Now button to install a plugin, WordPress will download and extract the plugin package for you. Once completed, you will be presented with a page that tells you the plugin has been installed. Here you can choose to immediately active the plugin by clicking the Activate Plugin button, or return to the plugins page.
Tip: a Plugin needs to be activated in order to be used on your WordPress website. After installing a plugin, simply click Activate Plugin in order to activate the plugins features on your WordPress website.
This covers the first part of my How to install WordPress plugins tutorial. This is the easiest plugin installation method and I highly recommend using this method if you want to install plugins listed on the WordPress plugin repository, and if you are new to WordPress.
Manual Plugin Upload
The next method you can use to install WordPress plugins is to download the plugin and upload it manually to your WordPress website. This can also be done from within your WordPress admin dashboard, except for the plugin download step.
To use this method, you will first need to find a plugin package to upload. You can browse the WordPress plugin repository for plugins, or you can search Google. If you have a trusted source for finding plugins, feel free to use it. You can also find some useful premium plugins at CodeCanyon.
Once you find a plugin you would like to install, simply download the plugins zip archive. For example, let’s say you want to manually install the plugin Contact Form 7. Simply visit the WordPress plugin repository and search for Contact Form 7, then download the package.
Once you’ve downloaded the plugin package, you are ready to upload and install the plugin the manual way on your WordPress website.
Simply log into your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New. Once you land on the Add Plugins page, click on the Upload Plugin button.
This will take you to the manual plugin upload page. The manual plugin upload page lets you upload a plugins zip archive to WordPress and then install it from there.
Now all you need to do is click on Choose File and then select the zip archive of the plugin you downloaded earlier on. After selecting the plugin, simply click on Install Now. The file will be uploaded to your server and then installed.
After this step activating the plugin is the same for the on-site installation method simply click on Activate Plugin once the plugin has been installed.
This concludes the second part of the How to install WordPress plugins tutorial.
FTP Upload & Install
The last method to install WordPress plugins is to manually upload the plugin to your hosting server. After uploading the plugin via FTP you will be able to easily active the plugin from within your WordPress admin dashboard.
You will need a FTP application like FileZilla to complete this step. If your operating system doesn’t come with a built-in archive manager, you will also need an extraction application such as 7-Zip. You can download both of these application for free and install them on your computer.
The first step to installing a plugin on WordPress via FTP is to download the plugin package. For this tutorial, you can use the plugin you downloaded during the second installation method.
Once you’ve downloaded the plugin package, simply extract it to a folder that’s easy to get access to for example inside Documents or on your desktop.
Tip: After extracting the plugin archive you should have a folder with the same name as the archive, or at least similar. You need to keep the folder structure after extracting!
Now open up your FTP program and use the Quick Connect bar to connect to your FTP server. Once connected, navigate to the folder where WordPress is installed, and then to wp-content and plugins. This is where you’ll be uploading the plugin folder to.
On the left side of the directory explorer, open up the location where you extracted the plugin. Now upload the entire folder to your server (The folder MUST be uploaded in the plugins folder on your server).
After uploading to your server, simply head back to your WordPress admin dashboard and go to Plugins > Installed Plugins. You will see the plugin you just uploaded listed within the installed plugins page now you simply need to activate the plugin by clicking on Activate Plugin and you’re all done.
This concludes the tutorial on how to install WordPress plugins. Within this guide I showed you 3 different ways you can install WordPress plugins each one with its own benefits, but all-in-all they do the same function in the end. It is up to you to find out which method works best for you.
Please share in the comments below what method of installing WordPress plugins you prefer, and why. If you have anything to add, please feel free to share that as well 🙂