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Step by Step Guide to Install a WordPress Plugin for Beginners

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Step by Step Guide to Install a WordPress Plugin for Beginners

After installing WordPress, the first thing every beginner needs to learn is how to install a WordPress plugin. Plugins allow you to add new features to WordPress such as add a gallery, slideshow, etc. There are thousands of free and paid plugins available for WordPress. In this step by step guide, we will show you how to install a WordPress plugin.

How to Install a Plugin in WordPress

Before You Start

If you are using WordPress.com, then you cannot install plugins.

We often get complains from users saying that they can’t see the plugins menu in their WordPress dashboard. It is because you are using WordPress.com, which has its limitations.

In order to use plugins, you will need to use self-hosted WordPress.org (See the differences between self hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com).

If you want to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, then read our tutorial on how to properly move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

How to Install a WordPress Plugin

To make it easy, we have created a video tutorial on how to install a WordPress plugin that you can watch below.

However if you just want to follow text-instructions, then you can follow our step by step tutorial on how to install a WordPress plugin.

We have covered all three methods: installing a WordPress plugin using search, uploading a WordPress plugin, and manually installing a WordPress plugin using FTP.

Install a Plugin using WordPress Plugin Search

The easiest way of installing a WordPress plugin is to use the plugin search. The only downside of this option is that a plugin must be in the WordPress plugin directory which is limited to only free plugins.

First thing you need to do is go to your WordPress admin area and click on Plugins » Add New.

Searching for plugins to install in WordPress admin area

You will see a screen like the one in the screenshot above. Find the plugin by typing the plugin name or the functionality you are looking for, like we did. After that, you will see a bunch of listings like the example below:

Plugin search results

You can pick the plugin that is best for you. Since in our search, we were looking for Floating Social Bar which happens to be the first plugin, we will click the ‘Install Now’ button.

WordPress will now download and install the plugin for you. After this, you will see the success message with a link to activate the plugin or return to plugin installer.

Activating a plugin

A WordPress plugin can be installed on your site, but it will not work unless you activate it. So go ahead and click on the activate plugin link to activate the plugin on your WordPress site.

That’s all, you have successfully installed your first WordPress plugin.

The next step is to configure the plugin settings. These settings will vary for each plugin therefore we will not be covering that in this post.

Install a Plugin using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload

Paid WordPress plugins are not listed in the WordPress plugin directory. These plugins cannot be installed using the first method.

That’s why WordPress has the Upload method to install such plugins. We will show you how to install WordPress plugin using the upload option in the admin area.

First, you need to download the plugin from the source (which will be a zip file). Next, you need to go to WordPress admin area and visit Plugins » Add New page.

After that, click on the Upload Plugin button on top of the page.

Uploading a plugin from WordPress admin area

This will bring you to the plugin upload page. Here you need to click on the choose file button and select the plugin file you downloaded earlier to your computer.

Plugin upload page

After you have selected the file, you need to click on the install now button.

WordPress will now upload the plugin file from your computer and install it for you. You will see a success message like this after installation is finished.

Activate plugin

Once installed, you need to click on the Activate Plugin link to start using the plugin.

You would have to configure the settings to fit your needs. These settings will vary for each plugin therefore we will not be covering that in this post.

Manually Install a WordPress Plugin using FTP

In some cases, your WordPress hosting provider may have file restrictions that could limit your ability to install a plugin from the admin area.

In this situation, your best bet is to install the plugin manually using FTP.

The FTP manager method is the least friendly for beginners.

First you will need to download the plugin’s source file (it will be a zip file). Next, you need to extract the zip file on your computer.

Extracting the plugin zip file will create a new folder with the same name. This is the folder that you need to manually upload to your website using a FTP client.

You would need to access your host through the FTP manager. If you do not have your FTP username and password, then contact your WordPress hosting provider and ask them.

Open the FTP client on your computer and connect to your website using the login credentials provided by your web host. Once connected, you need to access the path /wp-content/plugins/

Next, upload the folder you extracted from the zip file to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder on your web server.

Uploading a WordPress plugin files using FTP

After uploading the files, you need to visit the WordPress admin area and click on the Plugins link in the admin menu. You will see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.

Installed plugins

You need to click on the Activate link below the plugin. Upon activating, you may need to configure the plugin settings. WordPress plugins come with their own settings which differ from one plugin to another so we will not describe them here.

We hope this helped you learn how to install WordPress plugins. You may also want to see our plugins category where we write about the best WordPress plugins that you can use to accomplish whatever you’re looking to do. Each of those articles come with step-by-step instructions on how to setup individual plugins.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. Echo says:

    Hello,

    1st, Thank you for such an informative site. I have been here for hours tonight and it gave me tons of valuable information. Really pleased I came across it! I have a paid for Plugin Question.

    I am using a purchased plugin made made for ‘one site only use’ that I use to build/grow my 100% affiliate site via WP and Woocommerce. So I only have the one affiliate store builder plugin – license etc. I bought and like very much.

    For various site behavior reasons I am thinking that maybe this plugin caught an infection of some sort. If that’s possible. I will also note that I did not add the proper security to my site prior to this issue I am having. Stupid I know – learned a valuable lesson there. I think I brought the infection on myself when I added Google Aynalytics to my footer then clicked onto a ‘Referral link’ I saw inside the GA stats area. Dumb move indeed! It was a stringer of words with dots or dashes between each word and right after i clicked it … My site was under Hit Attack! – :(

    Then installed both a security plugin (BPS Free Version) and joined Cloudflare free version and since this issue of ‘Thousands of fake overwhelming hits per day’ is still happening after a week of security, I am thinking the infection is most likely on my Affiliate site building plugin since I have only have > Woo-commerce – Limit Login Attempts – One security plugin (the BPS free version) and my site builder plugin. Not sure where else the infection could live – in the Theme? It’s not in my p.c. -checked it myself oodles of times then by a pro to be sure. No infections on my home p.c. at all.

    So, I am wondering if I could deactivate the site builder plugin by following whatever proper steps are required, then re-upload – replace the plugin with the original plugin from my p.c. as it was not infected as a fresh plugin from day 1 install.

    I am so unclear what happens to the contents – posts etc on my site when one deactivates then replaces. Do things ‘Poof’ – disappear and I have to re populate the site from scratch or am I able to keep my site as is but somehow replace the infected plugin then re-activate it?

    I do hope my wording made sense enough as I too am a newbie – Learning a lot but was unable to find an answer online that made enough sense to my limited skill set abilities at this time.

    Any advice – thoughts or direction that you could provide me would be appreciated more than I can express. I give you a ton of credit for giving us as much as you do already and truly value your time and efforts to do so.

    Kindly – Echo

  2. Kabelo says:

    Hi, my WordPress widget page is frozen. It wouldn’t allow me to customize anything.

    What could be a problem?

  3. Julie says:

    I have WordPress.org and want to install a contact plugin on our home page. I think I have downloaded it onto our WordPress but don’t know how to get it to show up where I want it. Are you able to give me some assistance?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      We are not sure which contact form plugin you installed. Most of them usually allow you to create a form and then add it to your site using shortcode. The plugin’s page on WordPress.org or the official plugin website will provide you more instructions.

    • Scott Dunlap says:

      Julie wrote;
      I have WordPress.org and want to install a contact plugin on our home page. I think I have downloaded it onto our WordPress but don’t know how to get it to show up where I want it. Are you able to give me some assistance?

      I have the EXACT same issue. I downloaded, installed, customized a great contact form, now HOW THE HELL do I get it on my page?
      thank u

      • WPBeginner Support says:

        If you want to use a contact form on your homepage. Then first you need to use a static front page. Once you have chosen a page to be used as your site’s homepage, then edit that page and add the shortcode for your contact form in that page.

    • Ron Binmore says:

      I am a novice with a computer. I have struggled to build a web site for our Church Parish using WP. It seems that in most instruction for the use of what ever are very carefully prepared and published in the belief that the reader is well informed in computer speak and able to immediately understand how it all should go together. Then along comes an 83 year old (a silver surfer) who is trying to get it right but because of the technical language used, is completely bamboozled. A beginner in WP is equivalent to an expert to someone with the very little knowledge I have. It would be nice if things could be explained in plain old English without initials or technical terms so we could get a better grasp of things and a more sound understanding. I suspect that doing so would cut down the number of requests for further help, tears and frustration all round..

      Ron

  4. Jake says:

    I am new to wordpress and I am trying to figure out how to use plugins.

    I have installed the one I want called Advanced Image Styles and it is activated. But I have no clue what to do from there. I installed it so I could edit pictures better but have no idea where to find it or how to use it or anything.

    I’d love some help. Thank you in advance.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Most WordPress plugins usually have a settings page. Some plugins add these settings contextually. For example, an image editing plugin might add its controls and settings under the media screen. The plugin you are using does not come with any specific settings page. You can just insert an image in a post and then adjust its margins and borders in the visual editor.

      Almost all WordPress plugins will have some basic instructions to quickly get you started on their download page.

  5. rakrsh kumar says:

    How can i use form plugin on my site in wordpress 4.2.2

  6. Divya says:

    Hi

    I dont have a Plugin option on my dashboard, what should I do?

  7. Jove Ekaette says:

    Hi, am using free wordpress i try to install plugin but i can not find anything like PLUGINS in my Admin Panel….. please any help mail me via

  8. Mohammad Yusuf says:

    Thank you very much

  9. Aymeric says:

    I don’t have the plugins button overall. Why is that?

  10. Lost says:

    Hey,

    So I signed up for wordpress premium and I got my own domain name. The video here says I need admin capabilities in order to download plugins. How do I get said capabilities?

  11. Userfriend says:

    Thanks for the information it was useful. Glad you explain this for me i was like crazy looking on the .com part then i realize i need to have a self hosted one

  12. WPBeginner Staff says:

    No actually there is no standard on how plugins add their settings page. Most plugins will add a menu item under the Settings menu in your WordPress admin bar. Some will add it under the Tools menu item. Just take your mouse over to all menu items in the WordPress admin sidebar and you will see the settings menu under one of the main menus.

    It is also important to note that some plugins work out of the box and do not require a settings page.

  13. chipd22 says:

    “You would have to configure the settings to fit your needs. These settings will vary for each plugin therefore we will not be covering that in this post.” It would be nice if you had a link to a post about this instead of just saying you are not covering it, I have installed and activated plugins but still do not find them on my site so i am guessing this is my issue

  14. WPBeginner Staff says:

    We think you didn’t update your URLs. You have installed WordPress on your new host successfully. Follow the instructions in this guide.
    http://www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/how-to-update-urls-when-moving-your-wordpress-site/

  15. Alexandra says:

    Hi,
    I own a blog on WordPress, and because I want to add plugins, I found this article. Apparently, I first had to self-host my website on WordPress.org, and I successfully hosted my domain at Bluehost, as recommended on this article (http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-properly-move-your-blog-from-wordpress-com-to-wordpress-org/).
    Then, I followed the instructions to export my content from my WordPress.com account, and then install a new WordPress install via Bluehost, and finally to re-import the data.
    I was hoping to see “Plugins” appear in the WordPress admin panel sidebar, but it doesn’t.
    What did I do wrong ? What should I do now ? It seems like I’m still using WordPress.com instead of .org
    THANKS IN ADVANCE !

  16. WPBeginner Staff says:

    See our guide on how to use “FTP to upload files in WordPress. Once you are connected to your site, simply go to /wp-content/ folder and rename your plugins folder to plugins-old.

    You can also do this using the File Manager in cPanel dashboard for your hosting account.

  17. dean martin says:

    I have installed some classical plugins, but now i can’t login wordpress. I’ve read the problem could be the plugins installation. How can i work in FTP to remove them? Sorry, i need help, i’m a wordpress beginner!

  18. Jaimin says:

    Hi ,

    I’m installed some file upload plugins and have activated them but how do I put them on my pages? They don’t show any short code to paste and any other link to put to it on any selected page.

    Please help!

  19. WPBeginner Staff says:

    You can install a plugin using FTP but you can not activate it. For that you will have to log into WordPress admin area and activate it from the plugins page.

  20. Nobita says:

    Hi, can I activate the plugin from the FTP too? cause by site is not working…

    pls reply fast..
    thanks.

  21. WPBeginner Staff says:

    Are you sure you have your site on bluehost and not on WordPress.com? If you previously had a WordPress.com blog, then you will need to install WordPress and and then transfer your site. See our guide on moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

    • Sherri says:

      Do you have a post for this? I think that’s what’s happening to me. I had a wordpress.com site. I converted to a specified domain name and opted to host with wordpress.

  22. jake says:

    hi, how would i get the plugins option visible on my dashboard?

    ive purchased my domain and registered my hosting with bluehost. but, no luck actually getting the plugin option on my dashboard…need help :(

  23. Patrice Cook says:

    Clear and concise instructions for plugins. Thanks and look forward to more helpful tips.

  24. Martin Rathjen says:

    I keep receiving a download error when trying to install the WPTouch plugin. Error message as follows:

    “Installing Plugin: WPtouch Mobile Plugin 3.2.1
    Downloading install package from https://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/wptouch.3.2.1.zip…

    Download failed. Failed to write request to temporary file.

    Return to Plugin Installer”

    I tried the manual uplaod nof the zipped file, but that did not work either.

    How can I get the WPtouch plugin installed?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      It seems like an issue with your web hosting provider, or file permissions on your site. Please contact your web host for support.

  25. Haary says:

    How do I create a new page with the plugin I’m building?

    I’m currently in the process of building my own WordPress plugin.So i need to create a new page(or post) that will be automatically added to word press when the plugin is activated.And this will be removed when plugin is deactivated.Content in the page is what content i am typing in the plugin.

    My another need is that newly created page is not visible to any one directly & its contents cannot be edited(so it is not visible in “pages section ” in the admin area,and post name is not seen in header bar of client side ) .It is visible only when giving the url on browser, i.e Suppose gift is my site name, look is my post name, then only giving whww.gift/look on browser then the user can see that page.

    And the other thing is changing the perma link setting on the admin bar cannot be effected to the post i.e,when changing the permalink type to Numeric or Custom Structure or anything else cannot effected the gift/look,it must be work when the permalink type is changed also.

    I need help.

  26. Kit Cross says:

    Hi

    I have installed TWO plugins for fonts (WP Google Fonts and Easy Google Fonts) on the advice of a friend. They are both currently active. I can see them in the plugin menu. Can you explain how I access them please? For example, if I want to change the font of a page or a post, I assumed I’d select it and find a font selector button in the editor bar (alongside the font colour etc).

    Many thanks!
    cheers!
    Kit Cross

  27. Mohan Choudhary says:

    First of all THANKS Sir……..
    its very easy way for wordpress plugin…

  28. richard says:

    The current version has changed. There is no appearance>plugins section in wp admin panel.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Richard, The plugins are not located under appearance. In WordPress plugins have their own top level menu item in the WordPress admin sidebar. If you can not see the plugins in your WordPress admin sidebar, then either you do not have administrative privileges or you are using WordPress.com. Please see the difference between WordPress.com and Self Hosted WordPress.org site.

  29. sabari says:

    i did not c the plugin option in my blog,pls help me frenz

  30. Morgan JT says:

    What if you don’t see the Plugins panel under Appearance menu???
    I don’t have a Plugins panel then what do I do?

    M

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      If you don’t see the plugins panel then either you are on a WordPress.com site which has certain limitations. Or you do not have the privileges to access Plugins panel. Plugin’s panel does not appear under Appearance menu. It has its own top level menu in the main WordPress admin sidebar.

      • Jeff says:

        I am not seeing either. There is no sign of a plugin instal anywhere on my page. I am using .com, should I be using .org? I have Users under Appearance. This is really frustrating.

        • WPBeginner Support says:

          if your blog is hosted on WordPress.com, then you can not install plugins.

        • Jeff says:

          Ok, so how do I transfer my site which I have been working on for 6 months to wordpress.org?

          Is it easy to do?

    • ammar says:

      A lot of users have asked us that they can’t see the plugins screen in their WordPress dashboard. It is because you are using WordPress.com which has its limitations. In order to use plugins, you would need to use self-hosted WordPress.org (See this article that explains the difference between Self Hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com). If you want to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, then read our tutorial on how to properly move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

  31. Vilde says:

    I am using .com, and can not use plugins. But is there any way I can convert to .org? I am using the premium version of .com ….

  32. Dean says:

    Yeak OK good. But Then What?

    I have installed the plugin and activated it. But now where is it and how to use it?

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Each plugin has different configuration options. Some will add their own menu in your WordPress dashboard. Others will have their settings page located as the sub-page in your WordPress settings menu. Some are under Tools Menu. There are also other plugins that do not require any configuration. They just work once you activate them.

      It is hard to provide an answer to your question without further information.

  33. Del says:

    EDITORIAL STAFF: Please consider asking the question in the beginning: Do you want a .com website which allows you to do these things:……. or do you want a org site that allows you to do these things…….. Almost every question on this forum wouldn’t have had to be asked if we knew from the beginning that what we wanted was a .org site and not a .com site. Please do everyone a service and be upfront about it!

  34. Leda says:

    How do I transfer my blog from wordpress.com to wordpress.org? I want to install plugins that the first does not allow. Please help. It’s frustrating.

  35. Mike says:

    Hi.

    “First go to your WordPress Admin Panel and click on Plugins » Add New”

    I find themes and widgets and more there, but no plugins :-(

  36. Beat says:

    Why dont i see the plugin button on my blog?O.o

  37. Nicole says:

    I did something to be able to have several blogs on my wordpress, but now I’ve lost the ability to upload new plugins. Do you have any advice for me?
    Please?

  38. bobby pachauri says:

    Hey, I don’t see Plugin option under my appearance. The options that I do see are Theme, widgets, menu, header, background, etc. Please help. Thanks.

  39. JosephJ says:

    Thanks for the FTP install instructions. I got the CHMD 777 error after I botched a plugin install and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I was able to delete it via FTP and start over. Also, thanks for the plugin list and the Google XML Sitemaps plugin in particular! Keep up the good work.

  40. DarrenBaldwin says:

    Can anyone enlighten me as to why I don’t have the plug-in option in my side bar?

    • sara says:

      You should read their other post : 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions by WordPress Beginners, I think there’s an answer to your question :)

  41. DebbieTurner says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you…

  42. Labelle says:

    Very helpful. I think that many more of these step by step implementation guides would be great for people that want to get their own sites up and running.

  43. roscosolutions2000 says:

    I also experienced the same problem having CHMD 777 errors. Glad it’s solved now. Thank you.

  44. CubbiesBaby-Blankets says:

    @wpbeginner I just hope he eventually replies to my requests. Thanks.

  45. wpbeginner says:

    @CubbiesBaby-Blankets Whoever created your site, ask them to give you the admin access.

  46. CubbiesBaby-Blankets says:

    The problem I have is I do not have the “Pluggins” tab in the Admin panel. I can upload the pluggin on my FTP server, but how then do I activate it? I think its because my user status is “Site Owner” and I do not have “Administrator” status. If that is the problem, what do I do?

  47. Alyce says:

    I installed the plug in and it gave me errors related to CHMD 777. I got so confused I decided to delete it and start again, following the creators instructions first and then the instruction here. After deactivating the plug in, I can not reinstall it. It says that it is already installed. What do I do now? I can’t activate it and I can’t delete it. I mean I don’t know how to do either one.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      You need to login via FTP and delete the plugin. The reason why you got the CHMD 777 error is because the file that plugin was trying to edit didn’t have the right permission. This happen depending on which host you are on.

  48. JerrySichting says:

    Great tutorial, I don’t think any beginner should try ftping a plugin. I normally use the admin panel to search and install plugins.

  49. Andrea says:

    I write on my blog using the website, but in my dashboard there is no ‘plugin’ option under appearance

    • Editorial Staff says:

      You can’t install Plugins on WordPress.com blogs.

      • Editorial Staff says:

        If you use WordPress.com blogs, then you cannot install plugins. If you use the self-hosted one you do. From your comment, we cannot understand what is your frustration.

        • knb says:

          I also have same problem, in admin pannel no plugging tab? Could you please explain me how to activate plugging tab. I m writing blog using wordpress.com site

        • Editorial Staff says:

          You don’t have the ability to use plugins in WordPress.com blogs. You would have to use self-hosted blog.

        • Deborah Bradley says:

          Plus 1 here. You need to have a self hosted side in order to fully maximize WPs features.

      • Gabriel says:

        I am using wordpress.com to host my blog. The theme i use can be customized quite well, especially if you own the Customization Upgrade offered by WordPress. However, is not flexible enough to let me change for example one of the available Widgets of this specific theme, which is the Search Box I can add to my sidebar. Therefor I’ve been searching for so much time already how to customize the style of it, and at the beginning I tryed different CSS codes as I’m able to change CSS due the customization upgrade. Even so, it doesn’t seem to work so in the end I’ve got to this point where i found out that in order to do so, i should need to install related plugin, OR ! …. change the ” functions.php ” file with added codes as well, same time with the CSS.

        I wish to ask if the case I purchase the domain through WordPress so my blog will not be under ” xxxxxxxxxxx.wordpress.com ” , instead ” xxxxxxxxxxxxx.com ” , but still using there server and their theme ofc, will that allow me to connect through FireFTP and being able to change my php. functions file, or install new plugins i might require ?

        … or would not make any difference at all ? Because if so, than what is the point to acquire the domain, and seem quite unfair, compared with users of, let’s say … wordpress.org :-(

        Thank you so much in advance for your support !

  50. Ivan says:

    Thank you very much, i’m new abou wordpress blog. That is really helpfull for me. Thanks again and sorry for my bad english

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