How to Install a WordPress Plugin

how to install wordpress plugin

The next step after installing WordPress and activating your theme is to setup your plugins. WordPress plugins extends the functionalities and features of your site.

There is a wide range of plugins that are available – from SEO to image sliders and beyond. Many available plugins are free and some you will have to pay for but almost always worth the minimal investment.

Installing a WordPress plugin is fairly easy.

The following will provide step-by-step instructions on how to install a plugin. You can install a plugin using one of three methods; search, upload and FTP.

We’ll dig into the search and upload methods as I don’t think you’ll ever need to upload a plugin using a FTP tool.

Visit this page if you need to install a plugin manually via FTP. 

How to Install a WordPress Plugin Using the Search Feature

WordPress has a really cool feature where you can search and install plugins effortlessly. Why don’t I just list these instructions only and make it easy on you? Well, the search is limited to only free plugins that are listed in wordpress.org plugin directory.

You’ll have to manually upload many of the premium plugins you come across.

Here the are simple instructions to find and install the WordPress plugins:

1. Go to your WordPress admin dashboard

2. Hover over “Plugins” then click “Add New”

3. From this screen, you’ll see the Featured plugins; you can also see what the most popular, recommended and what the favorite plugins are. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s find a social sharing plugin.

activate wordpress plugins

The search term “social share” brought up 1,591 plugins. Not all are created equal. In fact, many will be prone to security flaws or affect other plugins. There are a few things I like to consider when installing a free plugin;

  • I check to see how many active installs (I consider anything over 20,000 installs). This ensures others are using it and recommendations – bad or good – have been provided to the creator.
  • I check the rating (I go with 4 starts and up)
  • I check if its compatible with the latest version of WordPress

5. The “Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons by UltimatelySocial” meets all the criteria above so I’ll go ahead and click Install Now. The plugin will automatically install.

Note: You can also read more about the plugin by clicking on the title. It will provide you an overview, instructions, screenshots and reviews. 

social share plugin wordpress

6. The plugin in is now successfully installed. Now click “Activate” to make it live.

7. You’ll need to go ahead and customize the plugin settings but every plugin varies so we won’t be covering that here.

Many plugins are very easy to customize but if you do run into any issues, my suggestion is to go to the creators site. Often, they have a detailed instructions page.

Installing a WordPress Plugin Manually

Like I mentioned above, there are times (typically when installing premium plugins) that you’ll have to manually upload a plugin.

Again, WordPress has made it easy on us with a few simple steps.

1. For these instructions, I’m going to install Theme Check. It is listed in the WordPress directory so its available in the search function but I want to show you how to upload the plugin. You’ll most likely be downloading a .zip folder directly from the creators site.

upload wordpress plugin

2. Hover over “Plugins” then click “Add New”

WordPress Plugin

3. Click “Upload Plugin”

Add Plugin WP

4. Click “Choose File” and find the .zip folder and Click “Install Now” button.

Install Theme Check plugin

5. The Theme Check plugin in is now successfully installed. Now click “Activate Plugin” to make it live.

Again, you’ll have to customize the settings.

It’s really that easy. There may be times when you get an error with either method. There could be conflicts between the plugin and theme that won’t allow you to install a plugin. In this case, you may need to go the FTP route or find a similar plugin that will work properly.

For the majority of installs, it should go smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.

For those that don’t, reach out to the creator of the plugin to get direct help.