Plugins are the reason why WordPress is such a flexible content management system. They can be used to enhance WordPress or add new functionality such as an eCommerce shop, ticket support system, discussion forum and more.
In simpler terms, a plugin is a series of functions that can be inserted into your website (hence the name plugin). Once a plugin has been installed and activated on your website, this additional functionality will be available to you.
In this tutorial, I will show you three different ways you can install a WordPress plugin. It does not matter which method you use, as plugins are always installed in the same location.
- How to Install a WordPress Plugin From the Official WordPress Plugin Directory
- How to Install a WordPress Plugin From a Zip File
- How to Upload and Install a WordPress Plugin Manually
How to Install a WordPress Plugin From the Official WordPress Plugin Directory
The plugins section can be found on the main navigation menu within your admin area. All of your installed plugins are listed on the first screen.
The official WordPress plugin directory currently has around 31,245 plugins listed. There truly is a plugin out there for every problem your website has.
Plugins can be installed directly from your WordPress admin area. Clicking on the “Add New” link in the plugins menu brings you to the “Install Plugins” section. The first tab is this section is the search tab. You can search for plugins by performing a manual search yourself or clicking on a keyword from the tag cloud.
If you are new to WordPress, you may not know what plugins to install. The featured and popular tabs linked at the top of the page are a good way of finding out about quality plugins. There is also a list of the latest plugins that have been added to the directory.
A feature that most WordPress users do not take advantage of is favoriting. If you login to WordPress.org, you will see an option to favorite a plugin underneath the download link. All plugins you favorite will be listed in your profile.
A list of all your favorite plugins is also listed in the Favorites page in your admin area. All you have to do is enter your WordPress.org username in order to list all of your bookmarked plugins. This is a great way of remembering your preferred plugins across all of your WordPress powered websites.
Within your admin area, a description of every plugin is listed next to the plugin. You can click on the details link to read a more comprehensive summary. All you have to do to install a plugin is click on the install link.
WordPress will download and install the plugin on your website. You can then activate a plugin right away, or activate it later by clicking on the Plugins menu.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin From a Zip File
Only plugins listed within the official WordPress plugin directory can be installed through the search, featured, popular, newest and favorite tabs. All plugins, whether it be a free plugin from WordPress.org or a premium plugin from a different source, can be downloaded as a zip file.
Within the “Install Plugins” area, there is an option to install a plugin by uploading a zip file. To install a plugin in this way, all you have to do is select the plugin zip file and click on the install button.
WordPress will extract the contents of the zip file and install the plugin on your website.
It is common for the zip files of premium themes and plugins to contain additional folders such as documentation and original Photoshop files. Whenever you download a plugin in zip format from outside the official WordPress directory, you should check that the plugin files are located in the top level of the zip file. If not, you need to extract all files and then zip up the appropriate plugin folder.
How to Upload and Install a WordPress Plugin Manually
When you install a plugin by zip file or by directly from the official WordPress plugin directory, WordPress extracts the plugin files and stores them in your /wp-content/plugins/ folder. Alternatively, you can upload the plugin to that location yourself.
If you install WordPress at the root of your domain, your plugins folder will be located at www.yourwebsite.com/wp-content/plugins/. Plugin files would be located under the plugin name e.g. www.yourwebsite.com/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/index.php.
You can upload files using an FTP client such as FileZilla. To connect to your website using FTP, you need to know your FTP connection details. This information is normally provided by your hosting company in their welcome email. Contact your host if you have not received it.
To connect to your website using FTP, you need to know your website’s hostname, FTP username and FTP password. This login information is sometimes the same as your hosting control panel login information.
Once you are connected to your website, navigate to your plugins folder (this folder lists your other installed plugins). Next, upload the plugin(s) you want to install.
Any plugins you upload via FTP will be listed in your installed plugins list. Next, activate the plugin and configure it to your liking.