One of the most common questions our readers ask us is: “Why can’t I add plugins in WordPress?”
This situation usually happens when the user is seeing an upgrade message or their admin area doesn’t have the Plugins menu. If you are dealing with this issue, then you are in the right place.
In this article, we will explain why you cannot add or install plugins in WordPress.
This guide has listed 5 of the main reasons why you can’t add or install plugins in WordPress. Feel free to use the quick links below to skip to the specific topic that applies to your situation:
1. You Are on WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a blog hosting service that offers a limited version of the popular self-hosted WordPress software. See our guide on the difference between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org for more details.
WordPress.com users cannot install plugins unless they upgrade to the Business plan or higher, which starts from about $300 per year. If you are on a Free, Personal, or Premium plan, then you cannot install third-party plugins.
If you don’t want to pay for that amount, then you can move your blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.
If you need help doing that, then you can use our free WordPress blog setup service. Just make a note that you want us to transfer your site, and we will do it for free.
2. There Are User Role Restrictions
Only Administrators can install and activate plugins on a WordPress site. If you are the owner of the website, then you need to ask your developer to make sure that you have Administrator permissions.
3. You Are Facing the Memory Limit Issue
The second most common scenario is that you can see and access the Plugins page, but you can’t install plugins. When you try to install plugins, you will see an error message.
This error is usually caused by the PHP memory limit. WordPress is written using the PHP scripting language, and each PHP script uses a certain amount of memory.
There are settings in your WordPress hosting and inside the WordPress core that define the amount of memory a PHP script can use.
When a process reaches this limit, it either gets terminated or shows an error like this on your WordPress website:
Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 67108864 bytes exhausted
The quick fix to this problem is increasing your PHP memory limit. You can do that by adding this line to your wp-config.php file:
For more detailed instructions, see our guide on how to fix the WordPress memory exhausted error.
4. You Are on a Multisite Network
Another possible reason that you can’t see the Plugins menu in WordPress is if your site is part of a WordPress multisite network, and the network admin has disabled the Plugins menu item on the network’s sites.
It is pretty much the same scenario as WordPress.com. The network admins must consider server stability, WordPress security, and load-balancing issues. To solve this problem, you can ask your network administrator to install plugins for you.
For more on this topic, see our guide on why you don’t see all plugins on WordPress multisite installs.
5. You Uploaded the Wrong Plugin File
Let’s say you want to upload a third-party plugin file, but WordPress keeps showing an error message like below:
In this case, you may want to see if you are uploading the right file in the first place. Plugin files usually come in a .zip package, which means they’ll use the .zip format.
You may also want to check if the zip content files you’ve downloaded are compatible as well. Not all third-party plugins come from trusted sources, and this may be the reason why they’re not uploading properly.
For more information about installing plugins, check out our guides below:
- How to Install a WordPress Plugin (Step by Step)
- Beginner’s Guide: How to Choose the Best WordPress Plugin
- Should You Install Plugins Not Tested With Your WordPress Version?
We hope this article helped you learn why you can’t add or install plugins in WordPress. You may also want to see our list of the must-have WordPress plugins and our guide on common WordPress errors and how to fix them.