In simple words, WordPress plugins are like apps for your WordPress website. They allow you to add new features to WordPress like a contact form, slideshow, shopping cart, and more.
There are thousands of free and paid plugins available for WordPress. In this step-by-step guide, I will show you how to install a WordPress plugin.
Steps To Install WordPress Plugins
I have covered all three methods: installing a WordPress plugin using search, uploading a WordPress plugin, and manually installing a WordPress plugin using FTP.
Install a Plugin using WordPress Plugin Search
The easiest way of installing a WordPress plugin is to use the plugin search. The only downside of this option is that a plugin must be in the WordPress plugin directory which is limited to only free plugins.
First thing you need to visit the Plugins » Add New page inside your WordPress admin area.
You will see a screen like the one in the screenshot above. Find the plugin by typing the plugin name or the functionality you are looking for. After that, you will see a bunch of listings like the example below:
You can pick the plugin that is best for you. Since in our search, I was looking for WPForms, I’ll click the ‘Install Now’ button next to it.
WordPress will now download and install the plugin for you. After this, you’ll notice the ‘Install Now’ button will change into the ‘Activate’ button.
A WordPress plugin can be installed on your site, but it will not work unless you activate it. So go ahead and click on the activate button to start using that plugin on your WordPress site.
That’s all, you have successfully installed your first WordPress plugin.
The next step is to configure the plugin settings. These settings will vary for each plugin therefore I will not be covering that in this post.
Install a Plugin using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload
Paid WordPress plugins are not listed in the WordPress plugin directory. These plugins cannot be installed using the first method.
That’s why WordPress comes with the upload method to install such plugins. I will show you how to install WordPress plugins using the upload option in the admin area.
First, you need to download the plugin from the source (which will be a zip file). Next, you need to go to WordPress admin area and visit Plugins » Add New page.
After that, click on the ‘Upload Plugin’ button on top of the page.
This will reveal the plugin upload form. Here you need to click on the ‘Choose File’ button and select the plugin file you downloaded earlier to your computer.
After you have selected the file, you need to click on the ‘Install Now’ button.
WordPress will now upload the plugin file from your computer and install it for you. You will see a success message like this after the installation is finished.
Once installed, you need to click on the Activate Plugin link to start using the plugin.
You would have to configure the settings to fit your needs. These settings will vary for each plugin therefore I will not be covering that in this post.
Manually Install a WordPress Plugin using FTP
In some rare cases, your WordPress hosting provider may have file restrictions that could limit your ability to install a plugin from the admin area.
In this situation, your best bet is to install the plugin manually using FTP.
The FTP manager method is the least friendly for beginners.
First, you will need to download the plugin’s source file (it will be a zip file). Next, you need to extract the zip file on your computer.
Extracting the plugin zip file will create a new folder with the same name. This is the folder that you need to manually upload to your website using an FTP client.
You would need to access your host through the FTP manager. If you do not have your FTP username and password, then contact your WordPress hosting provider and ask them.
Open the FTP client on your computer and connect to your website using the login credentials provided by your web host. Once connected, you need to go to the
/wp-content/plugins/ folder on your website.
Next, upload the folder you extracted from the zip file to the
/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’ll see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.
You need to click on the Activate link below the plugin to start using it.
Upon activating, you may need to configure the plugin settings. WordPress plugins come with their own settings which differ from one plugin to another so I will not describe them here.