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The Best Way To Install WordPress Plugins

This guide is another in the Inside WordPress series and will direct you the way you can install a WordPress plugin. Although this is a relatively straightforward task it is one of fundamental importance to Wp and is often overlooked. Consequently it’s a potential reason for problems to beginners, and not being able to effectively install plugins can prevent you from accessing the very large world of WordPress plugins

There are actually 3 ways of installing a WordPress plugin:

Automatically via Wp – easiest, some server setup Manually importing a plugin through Wp – medium, some server setup Manually uploading a plugin by Ftp – more complicated, no server setup


This is by far the easiest procedure but it does require that your server is setup in such a way as to allow adjustments to the plugin directory. This really is beyond the scope of this guide, but it entails giving group/other write bon to the wp-content/plugins directory. Once setup you will be able to hit on the Add New plugin menu option:

On the Install Plugin screen you can then simply enter the name of the plugin in the search area and carry out the search:

The search results should then show the plugin. Clicking on install will automatically download and install the plugin onto your blog.

When finished you can then activate the plugin – everything is done and dusted!


Downloading a Plugin

WordPress plugins are usually distributed as zip files. A zip file is a special file that enables you to store and compress several files together, resulting in a single file that is small and fast to download. Downloading a plugin consists of clicking on the download link from the appropriate website and permitting the browser to store the file in a place on your computer:

Installing a downloaded plugin via Wp

From the WordPress plugin menu just click Add New:

Instead of looking for a plugin you can directly add your plugin zip file by simply clicking on Upload:

Use the browse button to select the plugin zip file which was downloaded, then click on Install Now. The plugin will probably be added to your blog and installed. It can then be activated (see Automatically Installing a Plugin).

Installing a downloaded plugin by means of File transfer protocol

Once downloaded the file ought to be unzipped, a term that means the de-compressing and restoring to normalcy of a zip file. Depending on what kind of computer you are using this is a very easy stage, or one that requires additional software. Latest versions of Windows already recognize zip files, as will OS X. If they don’t then you’ll definitely have to download and install something like 7-Zip, WinZip, or StuffIt.

When ready, unzip the plugin:

You now will have to upload the plugin to your site using File transfer protocol. Before you carry on you need to have your File transfer protocol account information available (these are the same details made available to you by your web host) and have installed a File transfer protocol client. For Windows you can use FileZilla, for Mac OS X you may use Cyberduck. Once you have the File transfer protocol software installed you should start it and open a new connection. Enter your Ftp address, followed by your username and password:

After a few moments (if the address, login name, and password are correct) you’ll be connected to your web page and will see a directory listing.

Navigate through this directory to where Wp is installed. The exact location of this will change depending on your web host, but normally it will be inside a directory called public_html.

Now navigate through Wp to where the plugins are located: wp-content/plugins/

Now you can upload the plugin. Don’t forget that you need to upload the plugin directory as well as all files. Certain unzip apps will create a surrounding directory for you, which should not be uploaded.

When it is uploaded you will need to activate the plugin.


Whenever a plugin is installed it can be activated and deactivated quickly from the Installed Plugins menu:

You will be presented with a list of plugins. Choose the plugin and click activate or deactive. Simple!


When an update for a plugin is available you will notice a red signal in the plugins menu:

Clicking on this and then navigating to the Upgrade Available menu displays a list of plugins that should be updated. If this can be performed automatically then choosing the upgrade automatically link will do this for you. If you wish to manually update the plugin then you will need to follow the instructions above and re-upload the new version of the plugin. If you are using Ftp then you are advised to remove the old plugin directory first – unless you have made modifications to the plugin files then all your settings and data will be retained.

If you’re interested in more tips on WordPress Plugins please visit Upgrading WordPress Extended resource!

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