A plugin in WordPress is a small software which you can install to add additional features to WordPress which you need to run your blog smoothly.

WordPress, once a simple blogging platform now became a giant content management system and websites like personal blogs, restaurants, ecommerce websites and online stores are using WordPress.

To cater all these different niches needs, WordPress introduced a huge plugins repository to find and use required plugins.

The beauty of WordPress is that with all that basic functionality, you are by no means limited to what it offers on a fresh install. You can take full control of your blog by adding plugins to solve specific problems like taking backups, tightening security, caching plugins and much more.

The only thing to check before proceeding is to check whether you are using wordpress.org or wordpress.com? Installing a plugin in wordpress.com blog is not permitted as they don’t allow to install plugin in WordPress free blog service. They have their own set of plugins which you can use accordingly.

To take full control of your blog including installing a new plugin, you should have your own self-hosted blog using WordPress software only after then you will be able to add plugins to your blog.

Once that said, lets see how to add a plugin to WordPress. There are multiple ways to add plugin to WordPress and we will see all of them one by one.

Login to WordPress as administrator and have a detailed look at dashboard, you will see an option Plugins. This is the admin page where all of your plugins live.

wordpress dashboard plugins

Its a central location for all WordPress plugins. Every plugin you install finally appears here. You can activate them, change settings, edit or even delete them from here.

you will see some default WordPress plugins already installed here, don’t delete them.

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We are going to install our own plugin now.

Click Add New from the Plugins menu.

wordpress plugin add

You will see a list of Featured plugins to install. On top of the page, you will also see a menu to browse WordPress plugins which are Featured, Popular, Recommended, Favorites or Commercial. Just see all these options to get yourself familiar with what each menu option is offering.


1: Search and Install

On the right hand side of the same page, you can search plugins you want to install. For example if you are looking for a WordPress backup plugin, just write backup in search and you will see the options accordingly.

wordpress plugins search

Once you find what you want, just click the Install Now button.

wordpress plugin install now

Once installed, the button turns into an Activate button. The plugin has already been installed but not activated, you have to activate all plugins manually. click Activate button to let the plugin works properly.

wordpress plugin activate

2: Upload and Install

You can also install plugins already downloaded from internet. It should be a zip file which you will upload to WordPress and install.

From you dashboard, go to Plugins and Add New. At the very top, you will see the Upload Plugin button. Click the button.

wordpress plugins upload

Choose plugin zip file from your computer and click Install Now. Once Installed, you can activate the plugin.

wordpress activate plugin

3. Install from CPanel

This method involves manually installing a WordPress plugin from a zip file. First download WordPress plugin from WordPress plugins directory or from internet. It should be a zip file. Also you should have little knowledge of WordPress directory structure, it will be helpful in later stages.

Login to your web hosting CPanel and go to www or public_html directory, this is the place where you have installed WordPress. In our case we are using Hostgator web hosting service.

Go to wp-content > plugins directory and click the Upload button at the top.

wordpress plugins upload

You should see the plugin zip file in plugins directory now. If not, just click the Reload button in CPanel menu.

Right click the zip file and click Extract option from the menu. It will extract the contents of the zip file and the plugin folder will appear.

cpanel add plugin

Now go back to your WordPress dashboard > Plugins > Installed Plugins and you will see the plugin there. Just activate it and you are all set to go.


4. Install via FTP

All of the options we have seen involves installing WordPress plugin without FTP. Although using ftp is not a recommended method but still we will see one method to let you know that this option is also available. We will see how to install a wordpress plugin via ftp.

To use ftp services for your blog, first you need an ftp client for WordPress. We used sFTP Client Chrome browser extension for this purpose. FileZilla is another free popular ftp solution.

Once installed, click the extension and enter your ftp details. You will need to consult your web hosting provider to get ftp connection information.

ftp wordpress

On login, the folder structure will be same as in above CPanel method.

To install plugin from zip file, go to wp-content > plugins directory and drag and drop the file from your computer to this directory. Right click the zip file and Extract the contents. The rest of the procedure is same as we did in CPanel.

5. Install locally (localhost)

Many people prefer to install and check WordPress plugin locally and if it suits them, only after then they use the plugin on a live site. However you need to setup a localhost first like wamp or xampp, see our article how to setup a localhost for WordPress.

Installing WordPress plugin on localhost is very simple. Just extract the contents of the plugin zip file first.

Sometimes extracting zip files make extra folder inside main folder. The plugin files shouldn’t be in a nested folder otherwise plugin will not work

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Copy the plugin folder in wp-content > plugins folder in your local website. Now simply go to dashboard > Plugins > Installed Plugins and Activate it.

WordPress Plugin Settings

We will not discuss settings of any specific plugin but let you know how to access settings of any plugin you install. This is probably the first thing you do to use a WordPress plugin after install.

Once you installed a plugin, the most common way to set plugin settings is from dashboard > Plugins >Installed Plugins list.

wordpress plugin settings

The plugin should be activated to access Settings otherwise this option will not show up.

Some other more robust and complex plugins will make their own dashboard menu to access multiple options they are offering.


wordpress plugin dashboard menu

The Performance and Toolset menu items has been set by other plugins and are not part of WordPress by default.

WordPress Plugin Install Errors and Fixes

Below is a list of common WordPress plugin errors and their fixes. Have a good look at them if you are unable to install plugin. All the solutions are mostly generic and can be followed for any type of blogs.


WordPress plugin not showing up

You have extracted plugin zip file and uploaded to plugins online directory. Back in dashboard Plugins > Installed Plugins, the plugin is not showing up here in the list. This problem happens to many.

Make sure when you extract the zip file, it is not creating another nested folder with the same folder name as the main folder. All plugin files should be in the main folder.



WordPress destination folder already exists plugin install failed

if you get a similar message WordPress destination folder already exists plugin install failed, it means you may have already tried installing this plugin before and a folder in wp-content > plugins directory already exists with the same name.

Login to your web hosting CPanel or using ftp and go to wp-content > plugins directory. Delete the plugin folder in question. Now try to install the plugin again.


WordPress plugin could not create directory

If the plugin is not able to create directory then the first thing to check is file permissions of WordPress plugins directory.

Login to CPanel and under public_html, go to wp-content directory. Right click Plugins directory and check if it has proper write permissions set otherwise it will not let anything in. Once done try to install the plugin again.

ftp wordpress

WordPress plugin stuck while installing

For this type of error, again check directory permissions of wp-content > plugins directory. It should be 755. If the problem persists, try installing plugin manually using CPanel or via ftp methods mentioned above.


WordPress plugin 500 internal server error

If you instantly get a 500 internal server error after installing a plugin, it means the plugin is either faulty or having conflict with some other plugin you have already installed.

using your web hosting CPanel, delete the plugin folder and your website will be back as before. If not, then the plugin must have change some other files on your blog and the first one to check is .htaccess file.

You will find this file on the main of your WordPress installation directory. Open the file and see if the plugin has made some entries, delete those entries.

wordpress htaccess file

Also try installing the plugin on localhost and see if it works otherwise contact the plugin vendor for possible failure reasons. The other reason could be the plugin is trying to access a restricted file of your blog like .htaccess file. See you are granting proper writing permission to plugins to work properly.

Always do a bit of research before installing any new plugin. Plugin reviews, conflicts, dependencies need to be understood to run a healthy blog.

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