How to install a plugin in WordPress – A Beginner’s Guide

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How to install a plugin in WordPress in year 2017

There are mainly three ways you can install a WordPress plugin; by search, by upload, and by FTP.

And today I will show you all three step by step.

Let’s start it…

1. Install a WordPress plugin from the dashboard by searching it:

Step 1: login to your WordPress dashboard.

Step 2: Go to > Plugins > Add new

You can either navigate to it from the side menu or from inside the plugins page. It will open up the page where you can see a list of plugins available with WP.

There are 50,650 plugins available with WordPress as of today (15th June 2017). It’s easy to get lost when there’s a plugin for literally anything you can imagine to do on your blog.

So, just stay focused and stick to what you had planned, search the plugin you were looking for.

If you are not sure which plugin you should use, then, here’s my list of the must-have plugins for any blog.

Go ahead and check out the list and if any of the plugins match your requirement, then, you can surely opt in for the one I have listed, as the list was made after extensive experimentation on more than ten websites. I have only listed the best as per my opinion.

If you like, you can also test all the available plugins for yourself and pick the best ones as per you. Just make sure you don’t do it on your primary domain as you might screw up the whole website if you are not adept with coding or if you’re not from a technical background. So, either buy a secondary domain or create a sub-domain on the main domain and do all your testing as you like.

Step 3: Type in the name of the plugin or a keyword related to the plugin in the search box.

It will show the most relevant plugins based on your search terms.

Step 4: Pick the one you want to install and click on the “Install Now” button next to it.

Now it will turn into a blue colored button written as “activate”; which means the plugin successfully is installed.

Step 5: Now, you can either click on the blue button available here to activate the plugin or you can go back to the installed plugins page and find the plugin you’ve just installed and “activate” it from there.

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Step 6: All set! Now you can start configuring the plugin as you want.

Note: After the installation, the plugin should show up in the side menu of the dashboard. If it is not showing there, check if it is under plugins menu, under tools, under appearance, media or the settings menu.

Look for a name that is similar to the name of the newly installed plugin. For example, Yoast SEO will show up as just “SEO”, WP Facebook Messenger will show up as only “Facebook Messenger”.

And sometimes, some plugins for custom fonts or some shortcode plugins might not even show up anywhere in the side menu, these usually show up when you add a new post or edit one.

And some plugin might not show up anywhere at all, for example, Hellobar; the plugin is simply used to connect your blog to the Hellobar dashboard outside of your blog.

Second option to install a plugin is via upload.

2. Install a WordPress plugin by uploading it to the dashboard:

If you are using a third-party plugin, especially when you buy a premium plugin, you won’t be able to search and install it from the dashboard.

So, for such cases, you will have to use either the upload option available with WordPress or via FTP.

Here’s how to install a plugin by upload…

Step 1: Navigate to plugins menu and click on “Add New”.

Step 2: This time instead of searching for the plugin, click on the “upload plugin” button available on the left-top next to Add Plugins.

Step 3: A new section will appear above the available plugins. Click on “Choose file”.

It will pop out a new window from where you can navigate to the plugin folder in your computer and select the .zip folder of the plugin.

Note: if it shows any similar error like “” then it simply means that you have chosen a wrong zip file.

Often time what happens, when you buy a plugin or download a plugin from outside of WordPress, the package comes zipped with its license documents. So, you will have to extract the zip file first and then you will have a new zip file inside the extracted folder. Upload that one.

Step 4: Once it is selected, click on the “Install Now” button.

It will take you to a new window and it automatically unzips the files and installs it. Once it is successfully done, the “Activate Plugin” button will appear.

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Step 5: You can click on the button and activate it right away or you can go back to the plugins page and activate it from there.

Note: I have installed the same plugin in both the scenarios, but in the first way when I searched the plugin and installed it, it was the free version of the plugin, and in the second one I have installed the premium version of the same plugin. But when you look at the installed plugins page you will see the name on both the version is a little different. So, don’t get confused.

2. Install a WordPress plugin via FTP:

This is an extreme measure meant for emergencies only.

I don’t think anyone would prefer this technique over the first two explained above. But knowing this technique might come handy someday.

Besides, using FTP can make you feel a bit more confident; it certainly makes me feel a bit more techie than I am.

So, without further ado let’s get you straight to the steps.

For this technique we are gonna need:

  1. FTP username, password and the host server name (URL or the IP address of the server, where your website is hosted).
  2. One FTP client (I will be using FileZilla).
  3. High-speed Internet connection, if your files are heavy in size.

Step 1: Login to your server using the FTP client with your username, password, and the host server name. In some cases, you might gonna need the FTP port number as well and the default port number for FTP is always 21.

With FileZilla you don’t need to put any port number, just type in the other details right and click on “Quick Connect”.

Step 2: Once you are logged in, you will see on the left side the files and folders you have on your computer and on the right side you will have the files and folders available on the server.

This is what you will be doing on the left side:

On top left section (as seen in the screenshot) navigate to the folder where you have the plugin you want to install; if it is a zip file then extract it before doing anything else.

A zip file might take too much time if you try to extract on the server once uploaded. So, have them extracted before you try to upload.

Now, once you have found the plugin folder, click on it, now below that section (as seen in the screen shot) you should be seeing the files or folders inside that folder.

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This is what you need to do on the right-hand side:

On the right-top side (refer to the screenshot above) navigate to /public_html/yourdomain.com/wp-content/plugins

Below that section, you must now the already installed plugin’s folders.

Now, come back to the left side and Right-Click on the plugin folder (in my case it is “facebook-messenger”) and select upload.

The transfer should start now and at the bottom of the application, you should see the progress bar.

Step 3: Once the uploading is complete, the uploaded plugin folder would now show up along with the other folders on the server.

Good News! If you’ve done everything so far as instructed and you’re seeing the plugin folder on the right-side then, that’s it, chances are high that you have successfully installed the plugin.

Just to confirm that follow the next step.

Step 4: Exit the FTP client and open your browser and log in to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the installed plugins page.

If you can see the plugin that you have just installed via FTP then you are good to go. Go ahead and activate it.

Final Words:

Installing a theme or plugin follows almost the same processes as mentioned above. But still, for the very beginners, it might be helpful if I have a separate post on how to install a theme in WordPress.

So, if you are an extreme beginner; you can read the post here >> A Beginner’s Guide – How to install a theme in WordPress.

And for those who have understood properly “how to install a plugin” can go ahead and try to install a theme, it will be a good experience for you.

Note: Install a coming soon plugin like coming soon cc and do all the experiments in the background before making the blog public.

P.S. If you have found the post helpful, please share it with your friends and family who you believe would benefit from this.

And if you have any query or suggestions please put it in the comment section below and I will surely get back to you asap.

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The man behind Honingbird. A full-time Blogger and Digital Marketer. A late bloomer in the blogosphere; but I am finally finding my way in and I am here to help you find yours. Join me for the Laptop Lifestyle. Subscribe above!

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