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How to Install a WordPress Plugin – Step by Step for Beginners

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After installing WordPress, the first thing every beginner needs to learn is how to install a WordPress plugin. Mastering this skill is key to unlocking the full potential of your website.

In simple words, WordPress plugins are like apps for your WordPress website. They allow you to add new features, like a contact form, slideshow, shopping cart, and more.

With thousands of free and paid plugins available, the opportunities to supercharge your website are virtually limitless. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to install a WordPress plugin.

Installing a WordPress plugin - A beginner's guide

Before You Start

If you are using, then you cannot install plugins unless you upgrade to their business plan.

We often get complaints from users saying they can’t see the plugins menu in their WordPress dashboard. This happens because they’re using, which has its limitations.

On the other hand, you can install any plugin you want on your self-hosted website right out of the box.

If you still have any lingering questions, you might want to check out our article discussing self-hosted vs

And if you want to switch from to, then read our tutorial on how to properly move from to

How to Install a WordPress Plugin

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

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If you want to follow written instructions, then keep reading. Here’s a quick overview of all the methods we will cover for installing a WordPress plugin on your website:

Ready? Let’s get started.

Need help installing a WordPress plugin? WPBeginner Pro Services can do it for you! With our affordable Emergency WordPress Support Services, you can hire experts to install a plugin, fix plugin errors, install a WordPress theme, and much more. Stop stressing over your site and get it taken care of. Schedule WordPress Support Services today!

The easiest way to install 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 free plugins.

The first thing you need to do is visit the Plugins » Add New page inside your WordPress admin area.

Searching for plugins to install in WordPress admin area

You will then see a screen like the one in the screenshot above.

Now, you can find the plugin you want to install by typing the name of the plugin or the functionality you need. For example, here we type ‘WPForms‘ into the search bar.

When the loading is complete, 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 we were looking for WPForms, the best WordPress contact form plugin, we’ll click the ‘Install Now’ button next to it.

WordPress will now download and install the plugin for you. Once installation is done, you’ll notice that the ‘Install Now’ button changes to the ‘Activate’ button.

Activating a WordPress plugin

Now, note that a WordPress plugin won’t work until you activate it. So go ahead and click the ‘Activate’ button to start using 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. Since these settings will vary for each plugin, we will not cover them in this post.

Install a Plugin Using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload

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

That’s why WordPress comes with the upload method to install such plugins. In this section, we’ll show you how to install WordPress plugins using the upload option in the admin area.

First, you’ll need to download the plugin from the source, which will be a zip file. Once done, you can navigate to Plugins » Add New from the WordPress admin area.

After that, just click on the ‘Upload Plugin’ button at the top of the page.

Upload plugin button

This will reveal the plugin upload form.

Here, you’ll want to click the ‘Choose File’ button and select the plugin file you downloaded earlier to your computer.

Select plugin zip file to upload and install in WordPress

After you have selected the file, go ahead and click the ‘Install Now’ button.

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

Activate plugin

Then, all that’s left to do is click the ‘Activate Plugin’ button to start using the plugin.

The next step is to configure the plugin’s settings to fit your needs. Again, since these settings vary for each plugin, we will not cover that in this post.

Manually Install a WordPress Plugin Using FTP

In some rare cases, your WordPress hosting provider may have file restrictions that 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. However, the FTP manager method is the least friendly for beginners.

Before we get started, you’ll need to download the plugin’s zip file and extract it on your computer.

Extracting the plugin zip file creates a new folder with the same name. You need to manually install the WordPress plugin in this folder with an FTP client.

Now, let’s make sure you have access to your host through the FTP manager. If you do not have your FTP username and password, then you might want to contact your WordPress hosting provider and ask them.

When you have the extracted zip folder and FTP login details ready, you can open the FTP client on your computer.

The first thing you must do is connect to your website using the FTP login credentials provided by your web host. Once connected, you can head over to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder on your website.

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

Uploading a plugin via FTP

After uploading the files, you’ll need to visit the WordPress admin area and click the ‘Plugins’ menu item.

You should see that your plugin was successfully installed on the plugins page. To start using the plugin, go ahead and click the ‘Activate’ link in its section.

Activate installed plugin

Upon activation, you may need to configure the plugin settings. WordPress plugins have their own settings, which differ from one plugin to another, so we will not describe them here.

FAQs About Installing WordPress Plugins

As a beginner, you may have a few questions about installing WordPress plugins. As the largest WordPress resource site, we’ve heard so many of them.

In this section, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about installing WordPress plugins.

1. How do I find the best WordPress plugins to install on my website?

There are more than 59,000 WordPress plugins in the free WordPress plugin directory alone, and many more are available as premium plugins. This makes it a bit difficult to find the best plugin for the feature they need.

We have compiled a list of all the essential WordPress plugins that most WordPress websites need. We also have a detailed tutorial on choosing the best WordPress plugin that shows you what to look for when researching plugins.

2. What is the difference between installed and active plugins?

WordPress allows you to install a plugin and not use it at all. To use a plugin on your site, you need to ‘Activate’ it.

You can see active plugins by visiting the ‘Plugins’ page in the WordPress admin area. They will be highlighted with a blue background.

Installed and active plugins

Plugins with a white background are installed on your website but are not active.

3. Should I delete inactive plugins?

If you are not using a plugin, then we recommend deleting it from your website. For more on this topic, you can read our article on why you should delete inactive plugins in WordPress.

4. How many plugins can I install in WordPress?

You can install as many WordPress plugins as you need. It is not the number of plugins that affect your website speed but the quality of those plugins. For more information, feel free to see our article on how many WordPress plugins you should install.

5. How do I uninstall a WordPress plugin?

You can uninstall a WordPress plugin by visiting the ‘Plugins’ page in the WordPress admin area.

If the plugin you want to remove is currently active, you’ll first need to deactivate it. After that, you can simply click the ‘Delete’ button to remove it from your website.

Uninstall a WordPress plugin

For more detailed instructions, you might want to check out our guide on how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin.

We hope this helped you learn how to install WordPress plugins. Next, you may want to see our plugins category, where we write about the best WordPress plugins for accomplishing whatever you’re looking to do. Each of those articles comes with step-by-step instructions on how to set up 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.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

194 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
    Every month, our top blog commenters will win HUGE rewards, including premium WordPress plugin licenses and cash prizes.
    You can get more details about the contest from here.
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  2. Chris says

    Thanks for explaining Faq 2. I did not realize that you can download a plugin but not use it. This article also mentioned that premium plugins are not allowed in the WordPress plugin repository. What about freemium plugins that offer the main functionalities for free but have you pay for extras? Are those allowed?

  3. Dayo Olobayo says

    This is a great guide for beginners. I especially liked the step-by-step screenshots. However, I should add that before installing any plugin, it’s always a good idea to back up the WordPress site… just in case something goes wrong.

  4. Jiří Vaněk says

    WordPress plugins are a great thing, but I would totally disagree with the statement in the FAQ article that you can install as many plugins as you need. You are minimally limited by the memory limit, which is set on the hosting and which will eventually run out. I think that a reasonable solution is up to 20 plugins. Then the amount will start to show on the speed of the website. A combination of plugin and snippet is good. If not everything can be solved immediately with a plugin, and there is a snippet for many problems.

  5. Moinuddin Waheed says

    Most often I use the first method by going through the plugin options and searching in the WordPress repository.
    it does make a lot of sense in terms of knowing that the repository is always safe to use.
    I have used upload methods as well mostly for premium plugins as they come directly from plugins own websites.
    Much appreciated the efforts of wpbeginner to make even the simple things more simple.

  6. Ahmed Omar says

    A beginner-friendly, step-by-step guide on installing WordPress plugins.
    Also, the video make it more easy and understandable.
    Thanks for making the plugin installation journey smooth

  7. Lara Carter says

    Thank you, this explained so well and clearly on how to install and start a plug in. Thank you for this resource.

  8. Carlo says

    I can’t see the Plugin section in the left column in the dashboard.

    I’ve wordpress 4.8.14. Is this the problem?

  9. Barbara says

    Cant install any plugin. I receive the note instead: Installation failed: Download failed. Destination directory for file streaming does not exist or is not writable.

  10. Hanghua Jin says

    i just followed your tutorial step by step but wasn’t able to add a new plugin.
    there is a max execution time exceed error.
    i tried to increase that value from 30 to 180 but still couldn’t solve the problem.
    Please help me out.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      It sounds like you are either installing a massive plugin or there may be an issue with your hosting, we would recommend reaching out to your hosting provider to ensure there is no error from their end.


  11. Shravan says

    For some reason any plugin I am trying to upload are not uploading fully. They get stuck at 58% or 74%. The same case with themes as well. How do I resolve this?

  12. Karen Diebolt says

    This article doesn’t help because I have to have a paid plan to get the plugin. Is there any help for those of us with a free blog site from WordPress?

  13. Ann says

    Thank you for all your tutorials. I have learned a lot, & they’ve been instrumental to me getting my WordPress website up and going. I have a “credits” page on my site & have added you to it.

  14. Jeff says

    Thank you for sharing this article for beginners, I remember how anxious I was when I first started my WordPress website years ago installing plugins. I also shared this on my Facebook page for others to take advantage of, I thank you again for providing this article for beginners.


  15. Offiong says

    Please help me out. I have a new site but after installing and activating plugin i cant edit my header and footer. Please i need your help on how to edit the header and footer.

  16. Sharron Wilkie says

    I have the WooCommerce plugin on my online store. I have a plugins menu but it is YITH plugins and there is no other plugins menu. I want to install but cannot access a normal plugins menu

  17. Julie says

    I just purchased a personal site to build a portfolio and read your suggestions for the best builders (Elementor, Beaver, etc.) Unless I upgrade to business subscription for $299 I can’t use any of them, is that correct? No plugins for anything less than business plan?

  18. Erica says

    I am using (as confirmed by the WordPress logo in the upper left of my Dashboard), but the plugin menu is still not there. Could it be that my hosting company has a multi-tenant version that hides certain features from me?

  19. tom says

    Hello, I bought a woocommerce site for real estate.
    I have properties for rental but also for sale, so I want to remove the button -book- not on my pages for sale. How can I do this? Thanks in advance

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Tom,

      WordPress has more than 50,000+ free plugins. Each one of them does different things. Depending on the plugin you are trying to install you will find instructions on how to use it on the plugins website.


  20. rose says

    Hi. I’m uploading a plugin like in the second example…. but which file do I upload? The maps one I have purchased is a folder with all the files inside i.e. documentation – I don’t know which bit to upload! Please help :(

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Rose,

      When you purchase a WordPress theme you get it in a zip file. You don’t need to unzip that file and upload it.

      You try again by downloading the plugin again.

      Alternately, you can upload the plugin folder to your WordPress website manually using FTP. You will need to upload the folder to /wp-content/plugins/ folder.


  21. Digember says

    Thanks for the guide, very helpful.
    Upload via WordPress directory gives error to me, so I used the FTP method to upload a downloaded plugin and it worked.

  22. Jake Sullivan says

    I am trying to upload a plugin onto my site. I have followed it up to the point where you click “Upload Plugin” on the Add New section of the plugin page. However, whenever I click the button nothing happens at all.

  23. Niels Tang Graverholt says

    Thanks for a great page
    BUT: When I have installed and activated, what do I do then to use the plugin??

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Niels,

      It actually depends on the plugin you are using. Some plugins add a new page where you can configure plugin settings. This page is typically located under Settings menu in your WordPress admin bar. Other plugins may place it under other menu items in admin area. Check the plugin’s details page for instructions.


  24. Ruby Moseley says

    I installed and activated Email Subscribers. I filled in the contact/subscribers list. I posted a blog…but no mail was sent out? what am I leaving out?

  25. Martyna says


    I would love some assistance with a plugin please. I have uploadd a new theme to my site with all of the required plugins, all of which have successfuly installed, but one (Revolution Slider).
    I am getting the following message:

    Unpacking the package…
    Installing the plugin…
    Destination folder already exists…./public_html/wp-content/plugins/revslider/
    Plugin install failed.

    I have gone into my file manager and can see that there is already a folder with the required plugin installed, however when I try to access the plugin from the WP dashboard, it still says it’s not been installed (and I can’t find it in inactive either).

    If anyone has any advice, I’d be super grateful! Thanks!

  26. Deborah says


    How do I install a plugin in localhost?

    I’ve tried adding it manually in : xampp/htdocs/mywebsite/wp-content/plugins

    but when I got back to the site plugins area its still not there. I’ve cleared cache just in case there was a bit of a lag but still nothing.

    I used this process to add a new theme and it worked fine.

    Is there something else I should be doing?


    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hey Deborah,

      May be the plugin you are trying to add has incorrect plugin header which could stop WordPress from showing it as a plugin. Try adding some other plugin, to make sure this isn’t the case.


  27. Lisa says

    I just want to say that I am 52 and pretty much computer illiterate and I was just able to install a plug in from this. So so easy!!!

  28. Dicognito says

    HI, I am receiving following error when i try to test contact for i add: “site is currently unable to handle this request.
    HTTP ERROR 500” . I checked e mail address and it is ok , so could you suggest how to solve
    Thank you !

  29. Jake says


    After successfully installing and configuring the header and footer plug in, I was wondering how I can go back and change what appeara in the header after i saved and exited the plug in? Can’t find a way to do this

  30. Brock says

    Hello, thanks for the great info. I’ve purchased Yoast premium, downloaded it, but then when i try to upload to my site, its has broken the download into a bunch of individual folders. I’m certain i probably need all of them, but it will only let me choose one?
    So how should i proceed?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Brock,

      Premium plugins come as a zip file. After downloading it to your computer, you don’t need to unzip or open that file. If you do that, then you will see individual folders packed inside the plugin.

      If for some reason you cannot locate the plugin’s zip file, then you can try uploading it using FTP.


  31. Nia says

    I DID IT!!! I manually uploaded a plugin for the very first time and I DID IT. The video was excellent! Thank you!

  32. Gelu Nastac says


    I have installed your plugin “insert-headers-and-footers”, and this broken my website (don’t load).
    This get back the error:
    Fatal error: Can’t use function return value in write context in /home2/gnastac/public_html/ on line 102
    Could you help me to fix it?

  33. sarina says

    what could be the reason for the add new button for the new plugin istall area showing this message “unexpected error occurred. Something may be wrong with or this server’s configuration.

  34. Keith Williams says

    Thanks! Your website has helped this newbie and I just wanted you to know that you are appreciated. This is a long way from how I learned to build a website back in the early 2k’s. You’ve made my life better knowing there is a place to find information that doesn’t talk down to me but shows me in plain, step-by-step, English.

  35. Apata says

    I want to create my site through my android tab, but please is there any mobile Ftp to use for uploading files. And is it possible to create site through android tab?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Apata,

      Yes, you can do it using a tab. However, it will be a little difficult and you may not be able to do certain things. Some plugins and themes may be difficult to setup.



    What if the plugin failed to install? I actually tried to install the contact form 7 plugin but it didn’t worked.

  37. mourine says

    hello i have installed a questionnaire plugin in a word press website that was developed by someone else, and i don’t know how to view them from the front end? am not well conversant with word press… need help

  38. Keith says

    I would like to ask for help on plugins. I’m new to this area and I’m currently taking an online course. However, I haven’t gotten an answer from them yet.

    I’m trying to activate/add my first plugin. I understand a plugin can be 1 file. In my case it’s a php file and its contents is just comments at this point.

    When I go to plugins in my admin site I dont see the file. so I’ve tried using the ‘add new’ link and I proceed to upload the file both as a singe file and as a zip file and here are the errors I get:

    Unpacking the package…

    Installing the plugin…

    The package could not be installed. No valid plugins were found.

    Plugin install failed.

    OR i get this error:

    Unpacking the package…

    The package could not be installed. PCLZIP_ERR_BAD_FORMAT (-10) : Unable to find End of Central Dir Record signature

    I’ve installed XAMPP and WordPress on my local host

    Why am i getting these errors and how do I correct it?

    How do I add my plugins that I develop myself to my site? I’m using my localhost with XAMPP to do testing

  39. Tess says

    I also cannot see the plug-in menu on my dashboard. I’ve recently moved from to .net (which, I’ve been told, is essentially the same as .org, right?) How do I fix this? My site has not been hacked or anything.
    Thank you.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      If you cannot see the plugins menu, then most probably your site is still redirecting you to the dashboard. It is also possible that your site is still hosted with and you just added a domain name to your existing blog.


  40. Rajat insa says

    i downloaded few slider plugins and activated.

    .where i place the shortcode ?.Thereby i can see the plugin in page div.

    Please help

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