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How to Install WordPress Plugins: Step-by-Step Manual

WordPress has come a long way in less than 15 years. What was once just a small, obscure CMS is now powering every fourth site on the Internet. According to statistics provided by w3techs, WordPress powers roughly 26.5% of sites online.

The main reason behind this is the unprecedented versatility that allows WordPress power both small personal blogs, and huge corporate websites alike. For instance, huge organizations like Forbes and Sony Music use WordPress for their blogs.

How to Modify Your WordPress Site

Now, if you’ve decided to use WordPress as your website platform, you want to modify and customize your site, in order to differentiate it from others online. Plus, if you plan on investing a lot of time into it, you need to have some quality insights.

And just how can you accomplish this incredible feat? Well, simply by installing a number of useful plug-ins. They allow you to add things like a slideshow, gallery and a number of other useful features. You have thousands of paid and free plug-ins available.

If you don’t know how to start, here’s a short, step-by-step guide that will explain how to install plug-ins in WordPress.

Getting Prepared for Installation

We should mention right away that if you’re using WordPress.com, you can’t install any plug-ins. You won’t be able to see the plug-in menu in your dashboard on WordPress.com, because the website is pretty limited.

While you may update to the business plan, the better option is to use the self-hosted WordPress.org right out the gate. If you want to switch from one to the other, or you simply want to know more about the differences between the two, just read this article.

How to Install a Plug-in Using Search

There are more than a few ways of installing a WordPress plug-in, and we’ll start with the simplest one – by using the plug-in search option. The biggest downside to this is that a plug-in hast to be in WordPress’ directory that limited to free plug-ins.

That being said, let’s start. Now, first thing you need to do is go to the admin are, go to Plugins and click the Add New button.

This will lead you to a new screen, where you’ll see a search bar in the right upper corner. All you need to do is to find the plug-in you’re looking for by entering the name – or the functionality you want – and click enter.

When that’s over, you’ll see a ton of listings. As soon as you find the plug-in you’re looking for, you should click on the Install now button and the process will start automatically.

When the download and the installation processes are done, you’ll get a message with a link that allows you to activate the plug-in and subsequently, return to the plug-in installer. And just a quick reminder: just because you installed the plug-in, it won’t work until you activate it, so don’t forget about that.

How to Install a Plug-in Using Upload

If you want to install a certain paid plug-in, you won’t be able to find it in the plug-in directory on WordPress.org. You’ll have to use the upload method to install it.

Before you can start installing, you need to download the plug-in from the source. The download will be packed in a zip file. Afterward, go to the admin area on your site, and click the Plug-ins page. There, you’ll see an Upload Plug-in button at the top of the page.

This action brings you to the Upload page, where you need to select the file you downloaded earlier to your device. After you click on it and select it, you just need to click the Install Now button, and WordPress will start uploading and installing the plug-in for you.

Once again, when the process is finished, you’ll receive a message with the Activate Plug-in hyperlink. When you click this link, the plug-in will be activated, and you’ll be all done.

How to Install a Plug-in Using SFTP

Some hosting providers have files restrictions, which limit the users’ ability to install any plug-ins from the admin area. If this is the case with your provider, you’ll have install all of your plug-ins using SFTP (Secure FTP).

This is definitely the hardest way to install a plug-in, and if you’re a beginner, some of this might possibly confuse you, but bear with us.

We’re going to use the FileZilla client to install a plug-in to the WordPress website, and if you want to follow along, you can download it for free here. You’ll need to configure your SFTP client with settings provided by your hosting provider, they include:

  • Address/URL/Hostname
  • Port
  • Username
  • Password

Once you’re done with the configuration, you need to go and download the plug-in manually. Just click on the on the Download button, and get the latest version of the plug-in to your PC.

Then you need to unzip the plug-in and upload it to your Plug-ins directory. If you’ve paid any attention by now, you know that you have to activate the plug-in before you’ll be able to use it. You have to go to the Installed Plug-ins section in your dashboard, and then click on Activate button under the plug-in you just uploaded. And with that, you’re finally done.

The Bottom Line

And there you have it. We hope our little guide helped you successfully install your fist WordPress plug-in. Once you install your first plug-in, you’ll see that this is not such a complicated process as you originally thought.

All you need to do now is go out there and find the best plug-ins for your personal use and utilize them to accomplish anything you want. Last but not least, keep in mind that you’ll need to setup each plug-in individually, so Google around a bit and do your research before you start using them.

Adam Ferraresi

Adam Ferraresi (@adamferraresi) is a successful web developer from Dallas, Texas. He is twenty five years old, and when he isn’t working on some interesting new article, he enjoys listening to music and watching old movies.

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