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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

We have a recommend plugins list for all WordPress blogs, but we never considered that something essential was missing from that tutorial. That something was a step by step guide to install a WordPress plugin. Few of our users requested this tutorial via email, so in this article we will show you three different ways you can use to install a WordPress plugin in WordPress.

UPDATE 4/10/2013 – 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 which has its limitations. In order to use plugins, you would need to use self-hosted (See this article that explains the difference between Self Hosted vs If you want to switch from to, then read our tutorial on how to properly move from to

Install a Plugin using WordPress Admin Panel Search Option

This is by far the easiest way of installing a WordPress plugin. The only downside of this option is that a plugin must be in the WordPress plugin directory. Only free plugins that follow GPL and all WordPress guidelines are in this directory.

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

Search for a plugin

You will see the screen like the one in above screenshot. Type in the plugin name or function, like we did. Then you will see a bunch of listing like the example below:

Search results for the plugin

You will 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 link. A popup would appear on screen, asking if you are sure you really want to install the plugin:

Plugin install popup

Click on the OK button and WordPress will download install the plugin for you. After this you will see something like this on the screen:

Activating a plugin

Make sure that you click on Activate the plugin, now you have installed the WordPress 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.

Install a Plugin using Upload Method in WordPress Admin Panel

If the plugin you want is not in the WordPress Plugin directory for some reason either because it was a paid plugin, or a non-GPL plugin, then this option is the choice for beginners.

First you would need to download the plugin from the source (which will be a zip file), then go to your WordPress admin panel. Click on Plugin » Add New. Then click on the Upload Tab.

Installing a WordPress plugin by uploading the zip file

You will see a screen like the one above. Browse the file and upload it (zip files only). You will be taken to the activate a plugin page just like this one:
Activate plugin

Make sure that you click on Activate the plugin, now you have installed the WordPress 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.

Install a Plugin using FTP Manager

If you are very new to web and have no idea what an FTP Manager is, then this option is not for you. The FTP manager method is the least friendly for beginners out of the three method that we shared in this post. You would need to access your host through the FTP manager. Access the path (/wp-content/plugins/) And upload files there.

FTP Manager Screenshot

The above screenshot is of a FTP software known as Ipswitch WSFTP Pro. You can simply drag and drop plugin files. You must make sure that you upload the unzipped folder. Once you have uploaded, then you would need to click on the Plugins tag in your WordPress admin panel.

You will see the plugin you just uploaded. Click on the Activate button and you are done.

Activate plugin after uploading plugin files using FTP

We hope that this guide was helpful. This was created using the screenshots of version WordPress 3.9. Since WordPress is constantly evolving, we will try our best to keep this guide up to date. If you notice that there is something missing feel free to let us know.

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

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  1. Kabelo says:

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

    What could be a problem?

  2. Julie says:

    I have 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 or the official plugin website will provide you more instructions.

    • Scott Dunlap says:

      Julie wrote;
      I have 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..


  3. 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.

  4. rakrsh kumar says:

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

  5. Divya says:


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

  6. 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

  7. Mohammad Yusuf says:

    Thank you very much

  8. Aymeric says:

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

  9. Lost says:


    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?

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. Alexandra says:

    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, and I successfully hosted my domain at Bluehost, as recommended on this article (
    Then, I followed the instructions to export my content from my 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 instead of .org

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. Nobita says:

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

    pls reply fast..

  20. WPBeginner Staff says:

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

    • Sherri says:

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

  21. 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 :(

  22. Patrice Cook says:

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

  23. 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…

    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.

  24. 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 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.

  25. Kit Cross says:


    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!
    Kit Cross

  26. Mohan Choudhary says:

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

  27. 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 Please see the difference between and Self Hosted site.

  28. sabari says:

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

  29. 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?


    • WPBeginner Support says:

      If you don’t see the plugins panel then either you are on a 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, 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

          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 which has its limitations. In order to use plugins, you would need to use self-hosted (See this article that explains the difference between Self Hosted vs If you want to switch from to, then read our tutorial on how to properly move from to

  30. 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 ….

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

  33. Leda says:

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

  34. Mike says:


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

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

  35. Beat says:

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

  36. 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?

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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 :)

  40. DebbieTurner says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you…

  41. 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.

  42. roscosolutions2000 says:

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

  43. CubbiesBaby-Blankets says:

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

  44. wpbeginner says:

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

  45. 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?

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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 blogs.

      • Editorial Staff says:

        If you use 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 site

        • Editorial Staff says:

          You don’t have the ability to use plugins in 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 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 ” ” , instead ” ” , 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 … :-(

        Thank you so much in advance for your support !

  49. 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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