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

After installing WordPress, the first thing every beginner needs to learn is how to install a WordPress plugin.

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

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.

Installing a WordPress plugin - A beginner's guide

Before You Start

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

We often get complaints 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.

You cannot install plugins on WordPress.com unless you upgrade to their business plan. On the other hand, you can install any plugin you want on your self hosted WordPress.org website right out of the box (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.

That being said, now let’s take a look at how to install a WordPress plugin on your website.

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.

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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.

Ready? Let’s get started.

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 visit the Plugins » Add New page inside your WordPress admin area.

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. 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 WPForms which is 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. After this, you’ll notice the ‘Install Now’ button will change into the ‘Activate’ button.

Activating a WordPress 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 button to start using that 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 comes with the upload method to install such plugins. We will show you how to install WordPress plugins 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.

Upload plugin button

This will reveal the plugin upload form. Here you need to click on 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, 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 the 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 rare 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 go to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder on your website.

Next, 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 need to visit the WordPress admin area and click on the Plugins link in the admin menu. You’ll see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.

Activate installed plugin

You need to click on the Activate link below the plugin to start using it.

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.

FAQs About Installing WordPress Plugins

As a beginners you may have few questions about installing WordPress plugins. As the largest WordPress resource site, we have heard all of them.

Here are 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 55,000 WordPress plugins on the free WordPress plugin directory alone. Many more are available as premium plugins. This makes it a bit difficult for beginners 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 where we show you what to look for when looking for a plugin.

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

WordPress allows you to install a plugin and not use it at all. In order 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 the white background are installed on your website but not active.

3. Should I delete inactive plugins?

If you are not using a plugin, then it is recommended to delete it from your website. For more on this topic, see our article on why should you delete inactive plugins in WordPress.

4. How many plugins I can 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, 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, then first you’ll need to deactivate it. After that, you can simply click on the delete link to remove it from your website.

Uninstall a WordPress plugin

For more detailed instructions, see our guide on how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin.

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 comes with step-by-step instructions on how to set up individual plugins.

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182 CommentsLeave a Reply

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

    What could be a problem?

  3. 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?

    • 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.

      Admin

    • 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

    • 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. 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.

    • 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.

      Admin

  5. 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

  6. 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?

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. “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

  10. 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 (https://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 !

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

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

    pls reply fast..
    thanks.

    • 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.

  14. 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 :(

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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

    • 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.

      Admin

      • 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.

    • 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.

  19. 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 ….

  20. Yeak OK good. But Then What?

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

    • 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.

      Admin

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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 :-(

  24. 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?

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

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

  27. 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.

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

  29. 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?

  30. 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.

    • 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.

      Admin

      • 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.

        Admin

      • 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 !

  31. 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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