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Why Do You Not See All Plugins on WordPress Multisite Installs

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One of our users recently asked us why they can’t see some of their plugins on their WordPress multisite network. After they installed the plugins, they were unable to locate them on the plugins page in their multisite network. In this article, we will explain why do you not see all plugins on WordPress multisite installs, and how to fix this.

Managing plugins on WordPress multisite

WordPress multisite network allows you to run multiple sites using the single WordPress software. You can install themes and plugins for all sites on that multi-site network.

There are two different plugin screens when you login as super admin to the main site of your WordPress multisite.

The first plugin screen allows you to activate plugins just on your main site, but it does not allow you to install new plugins.

The second plugins screen is located under My Sites » Network Admin » Plugins, it allows you to manage plugins for your entire network.

Site and Network Plugins menus

To install a plugin on a WordPress multisite, you need to visit My Sites » Network Admin » Plugins.

Adding a new plugin in a WordPress multisite network

On the network plugins page, click on the add new button to install a new plugin.

Adding a new plugin in WordPress multisite

After the installation, you will see a link to network activate the plugin. Once you network activate a plugin, it will be available to all the sites on your multisite network.

Individual site admins cannot deactivate or remove it. This is why network activated plugins do not show up on your root site or any child site’s plugins page.

Network activate plugin

If you decide not to network activate a plugin after installation, then you will be able to see the plugin in your root site’s Plugins screen. From this screen, you can activate the plugin only for the root site.

Activating a plugin for an individual site on a multisite network

Plugins on Subsites of a Multisite Network

When you setup WordPress multisite network, you automatically become the Super Admin. This gives you the capability to install plugins and themes for all other sites on the network.

The site admins for an individual site on your network do not have the capability to update, install, or remove plugins. That’s why site admins will not even see the plugins menu in their admin bar.

No plugins page for a subsite in a WordPress multisite

However, if you network activate a plugin, then the site admins will be able to configure the plugin settings for their own site.

WordPress SEO settings on a subsite of a multisite network

Add Plugins Menu for Child Sites in WordPress Multisite

To enable plugin’s menu for individual sites, you need to switch to Network Admin dashboard.

Switching to network admin dashboard

On the network admin dashboard, visit Settings » Network Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see the checkbox to enable plugins menu.

Enabling plugins menu for individual sites

That’s all, save your settings and individual sites will now be able to see plugins menu. They will also be able to see installed plugins and activate them for their site.

Note: Individual site admins cannot see network activated plugins.

That’s all, we hope this article helped you understand why do you not see all plugins on WordPress multisite installs. You may also want to check out our guide on how to add/remove default pages in WordPress multisite.

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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

20 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Dayo Olobayo says

    You mentioned that some plugins may not be compatible with multisite installations. Beyond technical incompatibility, are there potential security concerns when using plugins designed for single-site WordPress on a multisite network?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      In those situations it would be no different than a standard plugin for security concerns which means it would depend on what the plugin does for how likely it is to affect your site’s security.


      • Dayo Olobayo says

        Thanks for the clarification. I’ll assess each plugin’s security based on its functionality.

  3. Linda says

    The article mentions, “Note: Individual site admins cannot see network activated plugins.”

    Is this true for all versions of a multi-site or just since a certain version of a multi-site?

  4. Bayo says

    When I try Network activating some plugins on my network admin it says Plugin could not be activated because it triggered a fatal error.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      That sounds like you are attempting to use plugins that do not work with multisite.


  5. Leon says


    what’d be the difference between Network activate and the individual sites activate? Sometimes I have to do individual activation to make the plugin work, but some other plugins require the network activation though.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      It would depend on the plugin and the permissions requirements. Network activating a plugin would mean it is available on all of the sites in the network.


      • Leon says

        Thank you for the reply. To be confirmed, is there any difference between activating on the network and activating individually on each sites afterwards?

        • WPBeginner Support says

          If you network activate the plugin it will be active on all sites already instead of only active on certain sites.

  6. Nibesh says

    Can we use a single licence of a premium plugin and use it all ove the connected multisite?
    For example if bought a plugin or theme for a single site liscence and installed in multisite will it be fully functional in all the connected sites?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You would want to reach out to the support for the premium tool you are using to ensure there wouldn’t be any conflicts.


  7. Cindy says

    I have a WP website and I just learned from your article why the admin of my site told me I can’t add a booking calendar to my website. Is there any way that the admin can add the plugin to only my site without adding it to all other sites?

    I really think that adding the calendar would make it easier for my website visitors to book their complimentary consultations which in turn could help grow my business.

    Please have a solution to my problem!

    Coach Cindy

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Unless I hear otherwise, a multisite installation would add the plugin to the other subsites and we do not have a recommended method to limit it to one at the moment.


    • Mary Job says

      HI Cindy, try to confirm from your admin if your site is on a multisite. If so, the plugin showing up on all the sites should not be an hindrance. This is because even though it shows on the other sites, it won’t be activated unless the site admin of another site on the multi site chooses to activate the plugin.

      Your admin should simply install the plugin on the network but must not ‘network activate’ the plugin. That way, every other site admin on that multisite network can choose to either activate it or not on their individual site.

  8. Nils says

    Thank you! This one saved me. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t add themes or plugins until I found this post.

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