How to Install a WordPress Plugin

Plugins are the cornerstone of the WordPress ecosystem. They allow you to add new features to WordPress such as a contact form, layout, shopping cart, etc. They make the CMS (Content Management System) unique among its peers because of the sheer extensibility they bring to the platform. Many users are attracted to WordPress because of the plugins, but they don’t know how to install them. If this is you, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through how to install a WordPress plugin in 3 different ways, so you’ll never run out of the cool stuff your site needs.

You can install a WordPress plugin using a search, uploading the plugin and manually installing a WordPress plugin via FTP.

Installing a Plugin using WordPress Plugin Search

The easiest way to install a WordPress plugin is to use the plugin search. The only downside to this option is that a plugin must be in the WordPress plugin directory which is limited to free plugins only. The first thing you need to do is:

  • Search for plugins that you want to install in the WordPress admin area
  • Find the plugin by typing the plugin name or the feature you are looking for.
  • After that, you will see lots of listings, choose the plugin that suits you best.
  • You will notice that the ‘Install Now’ button will change into the ‘Activate’ button.
  • A WordPress plugin can be installed on your site, but it won’t work if you don’t activate it. So go ahead and click on the activate button to start using this plugin on your WordPress site.

And with that, you have installed a WordPress plugin in the easiest and fastest way possible.

Installing a Plugin using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload

Paid WordPress plugins cannot be installed using the first method because they are not listed in the WordPress plugin directory, as such the upload method was introduced to install such plugins. To install WordPress plugins using the upload option in the admin area, follow the steps below:
You need to first of all download the plugin from the source which will be a zip file. Do not unzip any plugins that you download this way. WordPress reads the compressed archive, so you will always be uploading the .zip itself, not the files within).

  • Next, go to the WordPress admin area and click Plugins -> Add New.
  • Click on the ‘Upload Plugin’ button at the top of the page.
  • Click on the ‘Choose File’ button and select the plugin file that you have previously downloaded to your computer.
  • Select the plugin zip file to upload and install in WordPress
  • After selecting the file, you need to click on the ‘Install Now’ button.
  • WordPress will upload the plugin file from your computer and install it. You will get a success message after the installation is complete.
  • Once installed, click on the Activate Plugin link to start using the plugin.
  • Once complete, you will have installed a WordPress plugin via upload. The newly installed plugin will appear in the list as if you had installed it directly through the dashboard search.

Manually installing a WordPress plugin via FTP

Installing a plugin via SFTP is not much different from installing via download. You will need to download the plugin source file first(it will be a zip file). Then you need to extract the zip file to your computer. Extracting the plugin zip file will create a new folder with the same name. This is the folder you need to manually upload to your website using an FTP client. You would need access to connect to your host via the FTP manager. If you don’t have your FTP username and password, contact your hosting provider and ask them.

  • Open the FTP client on your computer and connect to your website using the login credentials provided by your host.
  • Once logged in, you need to go to the /public_html/wp-content/plugins/ folder.
  • Next, upload the folder you extracted from the zip file to the /public_html/wp-content/plugins/ folder on your web server.
  • After uploading the files, you need to visit the WordPress admin area and click on the Plugins link in the admin menu.
  • You will see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.
  • Click on the Activate link under the plugin to start using it.


Without plugins, WordPress is still a fantastic platform that can do a lot. With plugins, however, it can do just about anything. By following the steps above, you can safely install plugins you download from anywhere. However, we would like to warn you that downloading plugins from untrustworthy sources and installing them can lead to compromised sites, malware and various other negative consequences, so don’t install them. The repository and developer websites are secured places to download a plugin from.

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